Is it correct to say, "Here's a for instance . . ."? (Meaning, "Here is an example")

  • 1
    Yeah. Not in formal writing, though it's common enough in speech. – John Lawler May 28 '18 at 15:25
  • It's a logical confusion of "types" of syntax, similar to saying "here's a running." I may understand it (it is somewhat common), but it make me wince every time I hear it. – Jason Bassford May 28 '18 at 17:31

I'm not sure how you would define "correct". But that is, indeed, a very common pragmatic usage in British and American speech--in my experience, especially in business contexts.

As I've never seen it written (even in reported speech), I'm not sure whether it is usually hyphenated or put in single scare quotes. But I would probably do one or the other to aid readers unfamiliar with your usage in disambiguating from the prevailing function of 'for example' as a sentence-modifying adjunct. Personally, I wouldn't write it except in reported speech, but I'm sure people do.

The usage is similar to saying "I do have a 'but' though" where 'but' refers to a caveat. in both cases, a phrase is being used as a placeholder for a description of its usual semantic function (or the class of things that would usually follow it). Syntactically, they are both functioning as a noun phrase despite being lexically another part of speech (an adverb and a conjunction, respectively).

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