• 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.

  • 1
    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

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


Here is the sack of potatoes

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

  • 2
    In essence, "Here are the documents" is nothing more than a reshuffle of its grammatical equivalent "The documents are here", which should considerably clarify why the plural is needed. – Flater Sep 28 '17 at 9:43

The fixed presentational phrase Here/There is/are ...,

  • Here is the coffee ~ There is the cream ~ Here are the saucers ~ There are the spoons.

as well as the existential phrase There is/are ...,

  • There is a unicorn in the garden ~ There are some people here to see you.

are prone to contraction, like all fixed phrases.

  • Here's the coffee ~ There's the cream. /hɪrz/ and /ðɛrz/

But contraction with are is difficult with here and there, because they already end with /r/,
so adding another /ər/ syllable afterwards makes it hard to hear the difference.

  • Here're the saucers ~ There're the spoons. /'hɪr(ə)r/ and /'ðɛr(ə)r/

Consequently they are uncommon as contractions in the language. However, it's extremely common to use the singular monosyllabic contraction (Here's, There's) even before a plural noun phrase.

This is because the subject does not precede the auxiliary, but rather the reverse. English number agreement works only forward, except for archaic and vertiginously pedantic constructions like Here am I or There is he.

Consequently the way these would be said in normal conversation is

  • Here's the saucers ~ There's the spoons. /hɪrz/ and /ðɛrz/

As for whether to write these, that depends on your relation with your Inner Grammar Teacher.

  • I'm not sure about that last section. Saying, "Here's the saucers," sounds very wrong. I would always say, "Here are the saucers." I don't think the contraction works in this context (well, not in British English) – Rory Alsop Nov 21 '16 at 14:43
  • British English has different conventions than American English. – John Lawler Nov 21 '16 at 15:36
  • 1
    "Here's the saucers" is fine for many standard BE speakers. Such sentences are also attested in CamGEL. Incidentally, CamGEL say that in such sentences locative here and there have been re-analysed as Subjects in such constructions (I am not entriely persuaded, but then again, who am I?). – Araucaria - Not here any more. Nov 22 '16 at 20:21
  • Oh, btw, any chance of your reopen vote on this question here? – Araucaria - Not here any more. Nov 22 '16 at 20:23
  • @Araucaria: that question there isn't closed. – John Lawler Nov 23 '16 at 0:01

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.

  • 5
    -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

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.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.