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  • Here is the documents needed.
  • Here are the documents needed.

Which is grammatically correct and why? My guess would be the second one because of the plural form.

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It's clear that "Here are the documents needed." is the grammatically correct sentence. It's a little more contentious if here is is reduced to here's. There are (There's!) thousands of Google hits for "Here's the documents" and hundreds of thousands for "Here's the books" and "Here's the answers". This usage, and the related there's (There's two ways to do this) are common in informal contexts. –  Shoe Dec 24 '13 at 12:03
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Documents are plural, so the only correct usage is:

Here are the documents needed

This isn't an edge case, so it is simple. Compare

Here are the potatoes

and

Here is the sack of potatoes

Where the subject is plural, you use are and when it is singular you use is.

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Here is the documents needed. (incorrect)
Here are the documents needed. (correct)

A noun names a thing. The noun determines whether the verb is singular or plural. Here, you have the noun documents. That means the verb must be plural.

Here is a document. (singular) Here are the documents. (plural)

This holds true for all plural nouns. Some nouns are always plural (e.g. clothes) so they require the plural form of the verb.

If you click on the tag labelled plurals, you can read more about it.

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I did a google search for both "Here are examples" and "Here is examples". The former got 360,000 search results. The latter got 5,270,000 results. If nothing else, "Here are the documents" is less likely to make the reader do a double take.

As for which is technically correct, I'm unsure. Several sources suggest that words like "Here" and "There" are exceptions and should not be treated as the subjects of sentences, meaning that you're deciding the subject/verb agreement by the plurality of "documents" in this case, so that "are" is correct.

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-1 for trusting Google's counts on phrases in quotes, which are completely worthless. Here is the Google Ngram for the same question, which shows that "are" is overwhelmingly more common. –  Peter Shor Dec 24 '13 at 13:21
    
Sorry, first post on english.stackexchange. I wasn't familiar with google ngram before now, so thanks for the link. Can you tell me why comparisons on counts on quoted phrases are 'completely worthless'? Remember you don't need the counts to be accurate -- you just need the comparison to be in the right ballpark, and when there's an order of magnitude difference, as there is here, it's pretty good evidence of common usage, which is often what you need to know when making a decision on grammar without a formal knowledge of the subject. –  Obversity Dec 24 '13 at 14:27
    
We've seen cases where people come to the wrong conclusion by looking at Google Ngrams; that is, not only are the counts themselves wrong by orders of magnitude, but the ratio of the counts is wrong. We have a question on this on meta. –  Peter Shor Dec 24 '13 at 14:37
    
For example, do a google search for "here is the house": around 400M. Now try "here are the house": around 200M. So do people say "here are the house" around half as often as "here is the house"? Google Ngrams gives a ratio of around 7%. –  Peter Shor Dec 24 '13 at 14:47
    
Are people that much less grammatical on the web than on Google books? No. If you look, nearly all the hits for "here are the house" are grammatical: they are things like "here are the house rules", "… house keys", etc. There isn't any reason that these should be that much more common on the web. And we've seen enough similar cases to come to the conclusion that Google's counts for anything more than single words are pretty much completely worthless. –  Peter Shor Dec 24 '13 at 14:52
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