Hi there,

I am not a native english speaker and I find myself in a controversy discussion with a friend wether or not it is possible to use "there is" and "here is" with a plural subject, for example:

"There is some things I'd like to talk about."

"Here is your letters."

I looked for appropriate grammars or idioms via google, but failed to find anything conclusive.

I think it is just bad english (i.e. not even slang) and therefore all these sentences should use "are" instead of "is". But I also found a hint, that it might be allowed when offering something (see http://www.sulinet.hu/nyelvek/?p=content&id=762 ).

However, my friend was in the U.S. quite often and always for more than a month. He has the impression, that this use of "(t)here is" with plural subjects seems to be quite common.

So, today we watched a DVD of movie "Absolute Power" with english subtitles turned on, and there actually was the sentence "There is some things I'd like to talk about." written (and spoken), which actually was the cause for us to come up with this discussion.

Please help us to decide: Is it just a common mistake, that even native english speakers make, or is it actually correct english, and if so, when is it appropriate to use this form.

Thanks in advance

1 2 3
Hi Ralf,

You are both correct. They are still considered ungrammatical by many, and you would be wise to avoid them in careful writing; but the fact remains that the use of 'here/there is' (usually as 'here's/there's') with plural nouns is extremely common-- and acceptable-- informally. I use them myself frequently when I speak.

My feeling is that the reason is primarily one of pronunciation: 'there/here are' is difficult to clearly enunciate-- /h:r?r/ etc. We do not have the same anomaly in the case of 'this is / these are', which always agree with the number of their nouns.
Hello Guest

In BrE, you would always use 'here are your letters', 'there are some things we need to talk about', etc.

But the contracted singular form (e.g. 'here's your letters') is sometimes used with plurals in speech. You could call it 'informal' usage.

I'll be interested to hear what happens elsewhere.

Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies

it's me, Ralf, the starter of this thread. Thanks for your answers so far. A post in another thread pointed me to the "American Heritage - Book of English Usage", where I found [url="http://www.bartleby.com/64/C001/063.html "]this section[/url]:
According to the standard rule, when the pronoun there precedes a verb such as be, seem, or appear, the verb agrees in number with the following grammatical subject: There is a great Italian deli across the street. There are fabulous wildflowers in the hills. There seems to be a blueberry pie cooking in the kitchen. There seem to be a few trees between the green and me. But people often disregard this rule and use a singular verb with a plural subject, especially when speaking or when using the contraction there’s. The Usage Panel dislikes this construction, however. Seventy-nine percent reject the sentence There’s only three things you need to know about this book. But when there’s is followed by a compound subject whose first element is singular, the panel feels differently. Fifty-six percent of the Usage Panel accepts the sentence In each of us there’s a dreamer and a realist, and 32 percent more accept it in informal usage. The panel is even more accepting of the sentence When you get to the stop light, there’s a gas station on the left and a grocery store on the right; 58 percent accept it in formal usage, while 37 percent more accept it in informal usage. Although this usage would seem to violate the rules of subject and verb agreement, the attraction of the verb to the singular noun phrase following it is so strong that it is hard to avoid the construction entirely.

While this clarifies the usage for AmE, I still wonder how it used around the world.

Hoping for more to come,

Studies have shown that is very common in both formal and informal speech. What doesn't work for writing and or highly formal speaking has no bearing on what is used for normal everyday speech. Why? Because they are different. Rules that guide some aspects of language do not cover every aspect of language.

The CGEL describes it like this. It's not that formal is correct and informal incorrect. The rules that govern the two are not identical.

Michael Swan describes this same usage as very common in BrE.
There's with a plural subjedct is just damned wrong, formal or informal. It hurts my ear! That is the greatest test, to my mind. If it makes you queasy it is wrong. I believe it has been sheer laziness plus poor grammar grounding that have made the language less pleasurable to read and hear.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Hi Ralf,

I'm an English teacher from Asia and I can relate to what you are talking about since I observe the same things from Americans, especially in movies. The words "here" and "there" are not subjects in a sentence. Therefore in the example you gave- There is some things I'd like to talk about.- if we are going to analyze it, the subject is "some things" (which is plural) and the verb is "is"(which is singular). Using the Subject-Verb Agreement rule--if the the subject is singular, the verb should be singular, you'll observe that the subject "some things" does not agree with its verb "is". Obviously, the subject is plural and the verb is singular. The grammatical sentence should be: "There are some things I'd like to talk about." This construction is what is called expletive construction, wherein the words "here" and "there" (which are not subjects) begin a sentence followed by the verb.

I hope I was able to clarify the use of there is/are with you.

Chereque Navarro
AnonymousI hope I was able to clarify the use of there is/are with you.

Chereque Navarro
Just FYI. The original question was asked in January, 2005, nearly four years ago.
there is discussions.

and I am reading this in 2010!
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more