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Is “there're” (similar to “there's”) a correct contraction?

Since using there's for a plural object would be incorrect, would it be possible to use there're to abbreviate there are?

e.g.

I've been told there're many different ways to solve this problem.

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marked as duplicate by Lynn, jwpat7, Mahnax, Mitch, Jon Purdy Jan 15 '12 at 16:46

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
@Theta30: I don't know if it was you who voted to close as a dup of that earlier question - but whoever it was, I disagree. This question isn't asking whether it's okay to use there's instead of there're. It's asking whether it's okay to use there're instead or there are - and rightly or wrongly I'm assuming he says it like that anyway, and simply wants to know if it's okay to reflect this in the written form. –  FumbleFingers Jan 15 '12 at 1:37
    
@FumbleFingers - Likewise, I don't know who has voted so far. However, reading both questions it seems to me that this one asks if there're is ok to say, and that one asks if there're is ok to say. –  jwpat7 Jan 15 '12 at 2:10
    
@jwpat7: Erm... is that what you meant to type? Anyway, the first of Theta30's links is about the number/gender agreement in say, "There's some towels in the cupboard". And the second one is a rather odd thing wondering if all instances of are can be reduced to 're - which frankly I think should be deleted, not just closed. This one appears to be simply about transcription, and I think it should stand. –  FumbleFingers Jan 15 '12 at 2:31
    
I do not understand the point of having contractions in the English language at all. They add flavor but they make no practical sense. Just how much longer is "there are" vs "there're"? One freaking character! This is the case with most of the contractions, with exceptions such as won't, which does save 3 ... characters. Wow! –  Job Jan 15 '12 at 15:40
    
@Job: It's not so much a case of saving typing as conveying the appropriate "register". Which IMHO doesn't make much difference in the case of your "I do not understand...", but I think this comment of mine would come across as rather stilted if I'd introduced it with "It is not..." –  FumbleFingers Jan 15 '12 at 16:37
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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It's not incorrect, but it's difficult to say /'ðɛrər/, with two /r/s in a row, so mostly nobody does. The purpose of a contraction is to make things easier to say, not harder.

This difficulty is one of the forces that has led to widespread use and acceptance of there's as an unchanging existential idiom, like Es gibt in German, Hay in Spanish, Il y a in French, Yeʃ in Hebrew, etc.

Another is the fact that, if you think about it, number agreement contributes nothing to the meaning in this idiom, and should not appear at all, since the subject is there, which is a dummy noun that means nothing and is neither singular nor plural by logic, so by convention it should be singular.

That's good enough for nobody as a subject, too: Nobody is coming, even though it's neither singular nor plural, and even though it may represent many individual people and their individual decisions.

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I don't know if this is a US/UK thing, but I recall there was another answer where I didn't see why you said some sequence was "difficult to say". When I say there're I only enunciate a single "r" anyway - the only difference for me is in the contracted version I reduce the "ɑː" in "are" to a neutral vowel (schwa). Anyway, I'm not supposing OP is asking whether he can reasonably use the contraction in speech (which may indeed depend on his "dexterity of articulation"). I assume he wants to know if it's okay to write it thus. –  FumbleFingers Jan 15 '12 at 1:31
    
Well, first of all, a lot -- maybe the majority -- of our readers are not native English speakers, and the rest is split among all the Anglophone nations, so there's a LOT of individual variation. The internet, even with italics, boldface, and the IPA, is not the best discussion medium for phenomena that vary socially. –  John Lawler Jan 15 '12 at 3:11
    
Second, for speakers of many languages, sequences like there're, mirror, squirrel, and even my name, /'lɔlər/, are very hard to pronounce. And we Anglophones vary quite a lot in how we use our resonants, even though we can usually tune to one another with a little practice. –  John Lawler Jan 15 '12 at 3:15
    
Third, there're consists mostly in reducing the /a/ of are to /ə/, which -- even if it does result in losing a syllable, as your pronunciation would -- still requires reliably producing and perceiving a long final rhotic vowel distinction that English otherwise doesn't have. Not easy to maintain, generation to generation; singular is simpler. –  John Lawler Jan 15 '12 at 3:18
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Yes, well I freely admit that my speech isn't exactly a role model. I still remember my first linguistics class at college 40 years ago - the lecturer thought I was so odd he had me read various sentences out to the whole class for about five minutes (unless I make a real effort, I don't distinguish, for example, fall, full, four, fool). We didn't have many undergraduates from "peasant stock" in the UK back then, so I was a bit of a curiosity. When I went home for Christmas after the first term, everyone thought I was affecting a lah-di-dah accent (my speech had imperceptibly changed! :) –  FumbleFingers Jan 15 '12 at 3:26
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In rapid speech, there are will come out as something like /ðɛərə/ (rhyming with ‘tear a’). A writer who wants to give some idea of the actual speech of the participants in a dialogue may choose to represent it as there’re, but otherwise the contraction would not, I suspect, normally be found in formal prose.

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Only if you’re non-rhotic. A rhotic speaker might well say [ðɛɹɚ]. I admit that [ɹɚ] is a bit tough to say, and perhaps might be better represented in IPA in some other fashion (maybe [ðɛɚː]?), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen or that I don’t say it myself. The same thing happens with one-syllable adjectives ending in -ɛɹ put in the comparitive degree (like barer, fairer, rarer), and no one avoids those. There are also nouns of that form, like wearer, sharer, darer, tearer, bearer. Adjacent r’s do occur in English, and not in a completely super-rare situation, either. –  tchrist Jan 15 '12 at 14:20
    
Pray consider: adulterer,adventurer,armourer,blatherer,buggerer,caterer,cellarer,clearer,conju‌​ror,deflowerer,devourer,discoverer,embroiderer,emperor,enquirer,error,explorer,fl‌​atterer,forbearer,gatherer,hammerer,hearer,hirer,horror,hoverer,insurer,juror,kip‌​perer,labourer,launderer,lecturer,loiterer,lurer,malingerer,manufacturer,murderer‌​,murmurer,oarer,panderer,perjuror,philanderer,pilferer,plunderer,porer,pourer,pow‌​derer,preparer,procurer,profferer,purrer,queerer,referrer,restorer,securer,slande‌​rer,snorer,soberer,sorcerer,stammerer,sufferer,torturer,treasurer,wanderer,wayfar‌​er,whisperer. –  tchrist Jan 15 '12 at 14:55
    
The OED shows murderer as as Brit. /ˈməːd(ə)rə/ , U.S. /ˈmərdərər/. That’s /phonemically/, of course; I’m still not sure what I would do [phonetically]. Weird to see a schwa in a stressed position. –  tchrist Jan 15 '12 at 14:59
    
The AmE pronunciation is more like /ðɛrər/ or /ðɛrr/ (if one can geminate or lengthen r's). –  Mitch Jan 15 '12 at 15:41
    
As I understand it, we in SE UK are the "original" non-rhotic speakers. Personally, although I can hear the difference when other people distinguish "barn" from "[auto-]bahn", I'm pretty much incapable of generating the sound myself. But I do better than Jonathon Ross (originally from east London), who pronounces "marriage" as "ma-widge". I normally collapse both /r/'s into one, as Barrie says. If I'm forced to acknowledge both, (as in "There're only two") I just lengthen the schwa, since I can't lengthen my minimalist /r/. –  FumbleFingers Jan 15 '12 at 16:29
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Grammar Girl notes that there're is one of those troublesome contractions that it's best to avoid, especially when you write. (I can't even say there're with sounding like I have a mouthful of marbles.)

It's not incorrect, but why would you even write there're in preference to there are? Even while texting, I would write there are, or resort to my trusty fallback, there be.

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There's no special "watchdog" likely to come knocking on the door in the middle of the night if you use it, but it's relatively uncommon (witness that thin blue line at the bottom of the chart)...

enter image description here

On the other hand, there're over 400,000 instances, and it is more common than it was...

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In short, there're doesn't have anything like the "accepted status" of there's, so if you want to be beyond reproach, avoid it. But don't feel you're completely alone if you insist on using it.

Personally, I wouldn't criticise the usage, but it's not something I'd normally (ever?) do myself.

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+1, There's no special "watchdog" likely to come knocking on the door in the middle of the night if you use it. My point of view exactly. see this –  ApprenticeHacker Jan 15 '12 at 4:21
    
@IntermediateHacker: Nevertheless I think it's worth people knowing what usages are more likely to be used and/or endorsed by others. Not so much that you shouldn't use non-standard forms, but that if possible you should be aware of their status, and how this might affect (some) other people's opinions of you, what you say, or how you say it. By which in the current context, obviously, I mean "write" rather than literally "say". –  FumbleFingers Jan 15 '12 at 4:28
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