Well we know that is is the correct form for singular and are is the correct form for plural, right?

As such "There is a great pizza place in Chicago" would be correct in prose or dialogue as would "No, actually there are many great pizza places in Chicago."

However, I hear and occasionally myself say, "If you go to Gino's, I'd stick to the one downtown, but there's several locations now."

So my question is: Is this tense mismatch an eccentricity of speech, or is there any basis for this contraction of there's in plural?

Are you hungry now?

Edit: My question specifically asks for an irregular usage concern. Of course I know what it's supposed to say.

  • I see no answer to my irregular usage, Edwin. I know what it's supposed to be, but that's not what I hear in conversation--thus, the question – Stu W Feb 9 '16 at 16:41
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    I see, in @Barrie England's answer there: "The Cambridge Guide to English Usage’ deals with this pragmatically, as with much else: Existential there couples with either singular or plural verbs (there is / there are, according to the following noun phrase) . . . This formal agreement is strictly maintained in academic writing. But in narrative and everyday writing, there is and especially there’s is found even with plural nouns . . " Replacing the quirky use of 'locations' which doesn't help with judging acceptability, "... but there's several cafes now" sounds acceptable in informal speech. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 9 '16 at 17:56
  • The human mind is capable of considerable (and immediate) numerical correction for sense, which is why "There's pigs, and there's pigs—but in the end, pigs is pigs" is perfectly intelligible to a native English speaker. But it doesn't follow from this capability that the use of there's with a plural object is based on anything more than imprecise sentence building: the mismatch between is and pigs (or between is and locations in your example) remains in effect. – Sven Yargs Feb 9 '16 at 18:15
  • There's so many things in English that have led us to this question. ;) – Tim Ward Feb 9 '16 at 19:19

One of my dissertation advisees, Geoff Nathan, did his disertation on the acquisition of "there" in English, and found in his research that "there's" with a plural subject has become common (but not the uncontracted version). If you're asking about correctness, I can't help you, since that question is about social prejudice, not about the language.

  • This is a duplicate. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 9 '16 at 18:02
  • But y'all should know there's certain new-fangled things making it to the dictionary all the time! – Stu W Feb 9 '16 at 18:51
  • @Greg Lee is this dissertation posted online? Sounds interesting. – hughes Jun 2 '17 at 0:43
  • @hughes, I don't think Geoff's dissertation is on line. I found another, more recent reference for you that has other citations: stanford.edu/~khilton/Krejci+Hilton_LSA_2015.pdf – Greg Lee Jun 2 '17 at 1:16

"There are" would clearly be correct in that sentence. However, I often hear "There's" in common speech (and have probably said it myself on occasion).

P.S. I love Gino's (former Chicagoan).


You should more properly say "There are several locations..." and this can be contracted to "there're", but this contraction is quite clumsy and not used often (possibly because it sounds almost identical to the long form).

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    Ok, but that doesn't really answer my question and there's sounds more clumsy to my ears – Stu W Feb 9 '16 at 16:36

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