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Unless I am mistaken, when referring to a single thing or entity, one can say there is or there's (the contraction of the same). When referring to more than one of something, the correct wording is there are, however, I am not aware of an actual contraction of the latter, or there're.

As a native speaker, it seems perfectly fine to hear (and to use) there's in place of there are (at least for some examples, but I can't think of any that really don't work), but is this a valid grammatical usage?

e.g.

There are many ways this can be stated.

There's many ways this can be stated.

Am I wrong in accepting this? Should I try to break myself of this?

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marked as duplicate by MετάEd, tchrist, Robusto, RegDwigнt Apr 1 '13 at 1:11

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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's an informal usage, but many native speakers have no problem at all with constructions like...

There's two ways this can go.

...even though they would balk at the full form There is two ways this can go.

By traditional rules of grammar, obviously, it's "incorrect". But in the contracted form it's perfectly normal in informal speech. I don't think anyone would be pedantic enough to suggest you should get out of the habit of using a natural form you're quite comfortable with.

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There’re is an attested contraction (and a word that I personally use). Like there’s, it is used in informal contexts. For definition and examples of its use, see the OneLook entry.

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Once a form is contracted, it starts getting glued together and agreement phenomena affect it less and less, until you have something frozen like ain't or wanna.

There, since it is a dummy, has no meaning, just a function -- to indicate that there's a noun phrase to pay attention to coming after the verb. There is neither singular nor plural, so the question of the auxiliary is problematic, since it has to be pronounced before the noun phrase it might have to agree with. This causes problems.

So, what happens is that, since the subject and the verb are both meaningless and predictable, there's no real reason to worry about the official number of a contracted auxiliary verb with a dummy subject. And, therefore, in speech (i.e, real language), many people are comfortable with there's in both singular and plural.

Not to say that there're doesn't occur; but it's less common, if only because it's an extra syllable, which is unwelcome in a contraction.

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I don't know how it is pronounced elsewhere, but my pronunciation is monosyllabic with nothing more than a bit of extended "r" sound to distinguish it from "there". –  MετάEd Mar 31 '13 at 5:00
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If you're speaking fast, that means you're distinguishing between a long and a short rhoticized shwa in totally unstressed position in the middle of a consonant cluster. Get thee to a sociophonetician and get it recorded. BTW, I have no doubt you perceive this, as a speaker; but you can sense your tongue and others can only hear it, so there may well be some variation in others' perception of what you're saying. Just sayin'. –  John Lawler Mar 31 '13 at 15:15
    
The difference between "there" and "there're" is about a fifth of a second of "r". –  MετάEd Mar 31 '13 at 15:39
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I would bet against it. It's probably clear only from context. –  MετάEd Mar 31 '13 at 16:25
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@MετάEd, John: Based on how I've seen people react to prints/prince, I suspect those who can spell habitually harbour illusions over what phonetic distinctions they make - or more correctly, don't make, particularly in [casual] speech. And I know that as a listener I personally don't tend to hear variations that have no semantic significance. –  FumbleFingers Apr 1 '13 at 1:48

I also use there're; the only thing I'd add is that while there's would be considered by most a perfectly “normal" contraction, although informal, I think that there're would strike most people as somewhat “non-standard" and certainly much more informal.

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