Recently I have read a post which goes, "I don't really see the point in reading a novel more than once, to be quite honest, unless you were completely in love with it. There's so many good books out there that going through something you've already read before would detract your time and attention from discovering new material." Would you please tell me why this native speaker said "there's so many good books", rather than "there are so many good books"? As a non-native speaker, I never dare to use "there's so many people, books or anything in its plural form".

In English grammar books, we also have sentences like "There is an old worker and two young assistants doing the job today." My understanding of the use of "there is", rather than "there are" in these situations, though the subject is plural, is that native speakers might originally have only thought of the first item of the list in the subject or they might not have known it would be a list and even sometimes it is a long list when they started the sentence, they may pause after this first item. However, when they have mentioned the first item, they instantly think of more items. They then add these items, but they do not wish to or they do not have the time to or they do not care to change "there is" to "there are", as they don’t think that not changing "there is" to "there are" will confuse their listeners in terms of the meaning of the whole sentence. So, I guess that in some situations this "there is" is a slip that nearly all native speakers make when they are talking in a casual way. Because of this, we do not consider it as a mistake but rather something acceptable and natural. And sentences like "There is an old worker and two young assistants doing the job today." appear in both spoken English and written English. Interestingly, now we all say “There are an old worker and two young assistants doing the job today” is wrong.

Please tell me whether my analysis above is a sound understanding of the issue or not.


"There's" is simply such a common thing to say that you'll hear it (and read it) even when what is being described is plural.You'll certainly hear it when you describe a compound like your "old worker" and "two young assistants" when the first one is singular.
Thanks for your reply, Grammar Geek. Would you please comment on my reasoning in the post? Is it sensible or nonsensical? Just does my reasoning make sense? I plan to explain it this way to help my students to gain an insight into the English language---some grammar rules are not dead rules, behind them there may be some reason, which is plausible. In my opinion, we non-native speakers can alleviate the pain of always learning English things by rote by trying to understand them in some way.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
ohmyrichardPlease tell me whether my analysis above is a sound understanding of the issue or not.
It's a reasonable analysis. I'd say you have a good understanding of it.

Note that it's almost never "There is so many good books ...", "There is lots of people ...", etc., but "There's so many ...", etc.
It seems that the contracted form is obligatory if you're going to contravene the "old rule".

"There's" is not a 'slip' among present-day native speakers, in my opinion, though something like what you describe may have been the origin of the usage. Nowadays, it's just a grammatical habit, not really different from using "am" with "I".

And I don't agree with your last claim -- that we say "There are an old worker and two young assistants ..." is wrong. It's not so much wrong as it is formal or from an older style.
(Just my opinion.)
Thanks for your enlightment, CJ. It enables me to know everything about this issue. Last week I watched the disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, in which that black said "There's some people walking on the snow." when he found some people outside the library. Yes, he uses the contraction "There's ...", not "There is ...". This is a grammatical habit of speech.
Thanks again.
Hi Ohmyrichard

The following is for your information.

Below is the information extracted from two books on English usage. The first book is on British English usage, the second on American English usage.

The Right Word at the Right Time states as follows:

There is an apple and pears for dessert.

There are apples and a pear for dessert.

The Merriam-Webster Guide to English Usage states as follows:

When a compound subject follows the verb and the first element is singular, the verb may be either singular or plural:

There is a lake and several small streams.

There are a dog and a few cats in the house.

The singular construction is more common. Still, some writers insist on formal agreement and use a plural verb:

There were an apartment house and a parking lot at the end of the block.
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Thanks, Yoong Liat. You gave me the full picture of the issue. I have the Chinese version of the book The Right Word at the Right Time and I will carefully read the part you referred me to. Thanks again for your informative reply post. Actually my gratitude is beyond words, as I am always eager to learn more about the English language and how to use it properly though I have been a teacher of English for many years.
Hi Ohmyrichard

You're welcome.