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In a short interview where people were introducing themselves I saw something that grammatically sounds erroneous. Is the use of How's things instead of How're things a kind of expression or a simple mistake?

David: Hi. I’m David.

Rachel: Hi. I’m Rachel. Pleased to meet you.

David: Likewise. How's things?

Rachel: Great thanks. And You?

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  • 5
    How's/Where's/Here's/There's + plural noun is exceedingly common in speech. How's your mom and dad? / Where's my keys? / Here's your keys. / There's two pizzas in the freezer.
    – Dan
    Commented Apr 24, 2011 at 14:45
  • 1
    Relevant: Use of “Here's” before a plural noun
    – herisson
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 3:10
  • There's also multiple questions on "there's", e.g. this; "there're" suffers from being hard to pronounce and distinguish, which is also the case with "here're", "where're", and other "'re" forms; even "how're" is trickier than "how's".
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 6 at 21:41

3 Answers 3

16

It is an idiomatic expression, fairly common here in the Midwestern USA, at least; it is equivalent to "How are things going?" or "How are you?"

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10

I've tried running this through my head to hear what I actually say, and what I wind up with is either "how are things" or "how's everything", both of which agree in number. However, I'd regard "how's things" as an acceptable alternative in informal speech, if it's generally used in your region. In a more formal context (a job interview, for example), I would avoid any of these constructs in favor of "how are you".

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Some idioms do break the usual rules. They're called ill-formed idioms or extragrammatical idioms. How's things is one; it's in a colloquial register, in my opinion - you wouldn't use it in a scientific paper, for instance. It's us is a similar 'wrong agreement' idiom, widely accepted in almost every register. There are many extragrammatical idioms breaking various 'laws', for instance:

all of a sudden

by and large

curiouser and curiouser

dog eat dog

fight tooth and nail

for free

for short

it never rains but it pours

lead someone a merry dance

look daggers at someone

more fool you

swear blind

writ large

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  • I wonder why "it never rains but it pours" ungrammatical.
    – learner
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 2:45
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    The sense of 'but' here is 'except'. */? It never rains except it pours. (ie aiming for 'It never just rains a little – it always throws it down.') (It's not the illogical but grammatical 'It never rains – but it does pour' sense.) Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 13:46

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