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Q: "Do you have any juice?"
A: "Yes, there's some in the fridge."

Sounds perfectly fine to me, but:

Q: "Do you have any towels?"
A: "Yes, there's some in the closet."

Does not.

I asked for towels - plural - so wouldn't "Yes, there're some in the closet," in which there are is turned into a contraction be the correct way to say it?

Spellcheck, however, doesn't like "there're", and I think I'm the only person I've ever heard use the word "there're". Even folks who I know say "there are" shorten it to "there's" when possible.

Am I saying it wrong, or are both forms acceptable?

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I have frequently wondered about this. I say there're too. –  Matt E. Эллен Feb 16 '11 at 17:27
I say there're. I'm guessing most people do, but it gets slurred into plain old "there" as often as not. Add a "some" to that and it sounds like "there('s) some." –  kitukwfyer Feb 16 '11 at 20:46
I have always said "there're" and know many others who do, too. –  adj7388 Feb 18 '11 at 3:25
Interesting "Yes, there's some in the closet" sounds completely acceptable to me. I don't say "there'er." –  Sam I Am Dec 1 '11 at 1:35
OED has two examples of there're ... one from 1938, one from 1971. –  GEdgar Dec 1 '11 at 3:12

6 Answers 6

up vote 14 down vote accepted

There're is common in speech, at least in certain dialects, but you'll rarely see it written. If I were being pedantic, I'd advise you to use there are in your example, because there is is definitely wrong, so there's could be considered wrong as well. But a huge number of English speakers, even those that are well-educated, use there's universally, regardless of the number of the noun in question, so you will probably not receive any odd looks for saying or writing there's, and if you do, just cite the fact that it can't be incorrect if a majority of people use it. As for me (a native New Englander), I use both, but may use there's in place of there're if I'm speaking quickly.

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In "there's" the apostophe indicates the omitted "i". My pronunciation omits the "i" sound. In "there're" the apostrophe indicates the omitted "a" but I cant work out how you'd pronounce both the Rs without an intervening vowel sound. I suspect I sometimes say something that sounds like "their a" but it's difficult to work out how exactly I slur words together when I'm not actually thinking about it. –  RedGrittyBrick Feb 16 '11 at 17:36
@RedGrittyBrick: In my rhotic accent, there're is [ðɛ-(r)ɚ], which is usually almost indistinguishable from there [ðɛɚ] except for a clearer and longer R sound. In non-rhotic accents, I've heard it as there-a [ðɛrə], which does rather defeat the purpose. –  Jon Purdy Feb 16 '11 at 17:49
In response to RedGrittyBrick's comment on Jon Purdy's post, I say there-er for there're. –  user15448 Dec 1 '11 at 1:02
@JonPurdy I have a non-rhotic accent (Australian) and I pronounce "there" as /ðeː/ and "there're" as /ðeːɹə/ so I don't see how that defeats the purpose ("r" is only pronounced when a vowel sound comes after it). Maybe you're saying that non-rhotic "there're" is too close to rhotic "there"? However, it is difficult to pronounce and I don't know anyone else who uses "there're" instead of "there's". Even I forget sometimes and say "there's". I do always write "there're" for a plural because I can be more careful. –  CJ Dennis Apr 30 '14 at 3:44

I don't think "there're" is ever going to fly -- it's not so much a contraction as a simple elision. The only thing being dropped is a glottal stop, which isn't a "real" sound in English.

From a strict prescriptivist grammar and usage standpoint, "there's" used with a plural is wrong. But in spoken language (which is the real language, squiggles on pages and screens are no more than an approximate rendering) we need to be careful with prescriptivist tendencies. It may offend the grammarian's ear, but the fact that a very large number of native speakers -- likely a preponderance of them -- make exactly the same "mistake" indicates that there is something else going on.

Remember that the rules of English, as we received them in school, are only an approximation of the real rules of the language, and that many of those rules were imposed in the 18th and 19th centuries by well-meaning scholars who aimed to make English a respectable, consistent and properly-documented language. It has never been such.

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I agree with your overall statement, but where I come from "there're" is definitely possible to say. –  Kosmonaut Feb 17 '11 at 3:08
It is rendered that way in speech, but it's an elision -- there are two distinct r sounds, the a has become a schwa, and only the glottal stop is missing. You might want to emphasize that elision when writing dialogue (to make sure that the reader's inner voice hears the pattern) but there's nothing actually left out to record as such. I guess it would be a stylistic decision, but I don't see it becoming a part of informal writing outside of a dialogue. (But then, I'm often wrong.) –  bye Feb 18 '11 at 8:25
If I'm not turning something in to be graded I write/type "there're." If I'm texting someone, I type "therere." I write a whole letter (and a space!) less! If I'm not being fastidious when writing, and I have to use "there are," I may have to go back and fix it, if I notice it. Granted, I'm a sleep-deprived math major more than a linguistics one at the moment, but I've always been considered a "great writer."....If the older generations have any say, "there're" won't become acceptable in written form, but then, I doubt a lot of things would have, if they'd had their say...Just my two cents. –  kitukwfyer Feb 18 '11 at 20:19
The only time I'd put a glottal stop in "there are" is when I wanted to emphasize the "are", which kind of defeats the whole point of contracting it. –  Peter Shor Aug 4 '12 at 2:58

I am 62 and I have heard and used "there're" all my life. While "there're" looks strange on paper and dictionaries/spell checkers may not like it, I hear it used all the time. For me, the solution will be to add that naughty contraction to my spell checker's dictionary.

Am replying to an email and thought that "there're" looked strange and Googled it; that's how I arrived at this site. Like what I see. Have added StackExchange.com to my "Research" tab in Firefox.

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Here's my guess:

Contracting "there is" to "there's" usefully reduces the number of syllables.

Contracting "there are" to "there're" wouldn't. So it isn't done.

If I reach for a shorter way to say "There are some in the closet", my mind produces "They are in the closet" (favouring utility over accuracy).

Obviously it would help to know how you pronounce each of "there are" and your "there're". Perhaps we should both study IPA for a few minutes?

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In the first sentence you wrote, you use there is because the answer is read as

Yes, there is some juice in the fridge.

In the second sentence you wrote, you use there are because the answer read as

Yes, there are some towels in the closet.

I use there're when I write, and the spell checker doesn't mark it as not correct. In some cases, when I use a contraction, the spell checkers underlines it in green, and it reports me that the word could not match the rest of the sentence; I think it happens when the contraction is used for different words, and the spell checker is not able to understand what I mean.

To notice that juices can have a meaning different from juice, as juices is used also to refer to the liquid that comes out from the meat when it is cooked, or the fluid secreted from the body (e.g., the stomach).

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But what about the contraction to there're? –  Matt E. Эллен Feb 16 '11 at 17:26
What I reported is also valid for contractions; those are not different from the word they derives from. –  kiamlaluno Feb 16 '11 at 17:31
"the spell checker doesn't mark it as not correct" -- never a particularly good way to establish the legitimacy of nuanced English. –  Charles Goodwin Jul 15 '11 at 15:39
I have never claimed it is; I am just replying to the OP who said that his spell checker doesn't like when he writes there're. –  kiamlaluno Jul 15 '11 at 16:08

1) "juice" in the first question is a noncount noun, thus you will answer with "some" or similar modifier "little" etc.

And it is perfectly acceptable to say and write, "there's"

2) For the second question, if you have but one towel, it is perfectly OK to say,

"Yes, there's one in the closet."

If there are more — since you are conversing, I am assuming not communicating in writing. It makes no difference. The contractions are not visible in speech.

If you are communicating in writing with a hearing impaired person very particular about the usage of English language.

You would be better off writing "There are" because the contraction of "there are" — as you describe it — does not exist, or it is substandard English.

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