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The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Page 1390) says this:

[14] ii [viewing a photograph] H̲e̲r̲e̲’̲s̲/̲T̲h̲e̲r̲e̲’̲s̲ ̲m̲e̲, when I was six.

[...]

In [14ii] the personal pronoun is in the accusative case, indicating that in this construction here and there have been reanalysed as subjects, with the pronoun a predicative complement. Here and there are comparable to the demonstratives this and that, and like the latter would typically be accompanied by pointing, or some other indexing act.

(Boldface mine.)

But in the same context of viewing a photograph, I'm sure the speaker can say this:

(1) [viewing a yearbook] Here/There are my classmates.

Here, the subject seems to be my classmates, not Here/There, since the verb is are.

Is (1) a different construction than [14ii]? Or is CGEL's analysis above wrong?

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    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 24 at 19:37
  • Is the conundrum that here would seemingly be a subject in Here’s my classmates but not in Here are my classmates? Commented Feb 26 at 3:00
  • @TinfoilHat In the existential construction There are my classmates and then there are my teachers, CamGEL and most other modern grammars consider there to be the subject, even with plural are. So the conundrum is not really that Here cannot be the subject in Here are my classmates just because of plural are, but that CamGEL depends on the verb form (e.g., is vs are) to determine the subject. And that it's inadvertently hiding examples like Here's my classmates and Here's your instructions. First, drive down to the bank,...
    – JK2
    Commented Feb 26 at 3:14
  • This question has already been answered: here and there as used in it are deictic words.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 26 at 21:14
  • @Lambie Here and There are deictic even when used adverbially as in Come here. So the fact that they are deictic in the OP doesn't mean that the question has been answered.
    – JK2
    Commented Mar 1 at 1:24

4 Answers 4

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Yes, there are two different constructions at work here.

Suppose I'm pointing at a photograph and say one of the following:

  1. Here are our classmates.
  2. (?) Our classmates are here.
  3. Here's our classmates.
  4. * Our classmates is here.

Both (1) and (2) are quite clearly correct. In (2), "our classmates" is the subject, agreeing with the verb "are," and "here" is the predicative complement. (1) is the same sentence, but with subject-dependent inversion. In this context, the inverted version is clearly preferable, since "our classmates" is a heavier constituent than "here" and is much more likely to be the element containing new information.

(3) is also correct, albeit rather informal compared to (1). It parallels CGEL's example of "Here's/There's me, when I was six," which would likewise be more common in informal style. In CGEL's example, me is in the accusative case, and the verb doesn't agree with it, since we have is rather than am. In my example (3) above, "our classmates" lacks a separate accusative case, but again we see that the verb "is" does not agree with "our classmates." Hence CGEL would say that, in (3), "here" has been reanalyzed as a subject; "is" thus agrees with "here" rather than "our classmates."

Note that this is sharply distinct from (4); while (3) is informal, (4) is just wrong, at least in standard dialects. So we see that (3) does not contain subject-dependent inversion; it has to be treated as a separate construction.

To make this clearer, let's consider a case with a pronoun instead of "our classmates," again in the context of pointing at a photograph:

  1. (?) Here are we.
  2. We're here.
  3. Here's us.
  4. * Us is here.

This is the reverse of what we had before: now (2) is correct but (1) is infelicitous. Personal pronouns are treated as very light constituents, making inversion quite awkward; compare sentences like "In the kitchen are we," which would only be found in certain (say, literary) contexts.

But no such restriction applies to (3), which would again be acceptable in informal style. Since (3) does not contain subject-dependent inversion, it's fine that the constituent "us" is a light one. Again we see that we can't try to "un-invert" it, with (4) again being ungrammatical.


A side note: they seem to think that "us" is used instead of "we" in examples like (3) because of the fact that, in general, subjective predicative complements can be accusative instead of nominative in informal registers, where we might use "This is him" instead of "This is he" (see p. 459). This doesn't quite explain why the nominative is forbidden in (3), i.e. why "Here's we" is obviously wrong; perhaps we should just say that the reanalysis in (3) is only possible in contexts where the predicative complement is accusative, since nominative subjective predicative complements tend to be restricted to fairly formal style.


Another side note: in "Here's our classmates," while "here" has been reanalyzed as a subject akin to "this" or "that," I don't think they believe that "here" has been reanalyzed as a noun phrase. Instead, I suspect this is best treated as a case where a prepositional phrase ("here") can get used as a subject in clause structure (see pp. 646-647).


Another another side note: what about sentences like "Here's our classmate"? Strictly speaking, we could say that such sentences are syntactically ambiguous. We could say that these have the same syntax as an inverted sentence like "Here are our classmates," or that they have the same syntax as a sentence like "Here's us"; the subject-verb agreement doesn't settle the issue. It is true that the contracted form "Here's" certainly makes the construction in (3) more acceptable, though I don't think "Here is us" is necessarily wrong. Regardless, though, this doesn't mean we can't assign "Here's our classmate" an inverted interpretation; there's no reason to posit that "Here's our classmate" involves anything unusual syntactically akin to sentences like "Here's us."

It seems to me that it would be better to say that such sentences have an inverted interpretation, so that the structure of "Here's our classmate" is the same as that of "Here are our classmates." The inverted construction is part of a much more general pattern and acceptable in a much wider range of registers; there's no reason to posit that anything special is going on in "Here's our classmate," which at any rate is acceptable across registers. There's no evidence that all sentences starting with "Here's..." have been reanalyzed, and we shouldn't posit such a reanalysis unless there's an actual reason to do so.

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Here/There are my classmates.

Here, the subject seems to be my classmates, not Here/There, since the verb is are.

I agree that my classmates seems to be the subject of this sentence. However, you can't conclude this from the use of the verb are. Also, it doesn't mean that CamGEL's analysis of the separate sentence "Here’s/There’s me, when I was six" is wrong.

I think "Here/There are my classmates" has the same syntactic structure as CamGEL's examples in 14iii.

Number agreement doesn't establish what the subject is

A number of English words can be singular or plural as subjects with no change in form; e.g. all and half ("All is ready"/"All are ready" or "Half is ready"/"Half are ready" are both grammatical, but different in sense), the relative pronoun who, the pronoun there in existential constructions ("Are there any left?"/"Is there any left?"). So the use of the plural verb are in "Here/There are my classmates" doesn't prove that the subject of the sentence is my classmates: are could be in agreement with a plural subject There/Here.

I'm not sure why CamGEL p. 1390 says "in [iiia/b] it is still the post-verbal NP that is the subject, as evidenced by the fact that the verb agrees with this NP."

Pronoun case

A more reliable test is to check whether we can say things like "Here/There are them/us". If we can, this would establish that "Here/There" can be plural subjects. "There are them", "There are us", "Here are them", "Here are us" don't sound good to me, which is evidence that Here and There are not actually used as plural subjects.

However, this kind of negative evidence is not completely conclusive: the construction might be unused for unrelated reasons. "There/Here are we/they" doesn't sound very good to me either, so it might not just be the case of the pronoun that makes it awkward in this position.

CamGEL p. 1390 seems to interpret "There/Here we/they are" as essentially the same construction found in [iiia/b] when it says "When the NP is a personal pronoun, it precedes the verb, in the nominative case: Here they are." It's clear that they is the subject in this context.

It does seem like this word order is usual with pronouns whereas the other word order is usual with non-pronominal noun phrases: I wouldn't say *"Here your instructions are" or *"There my friend is".

Your additional examples

As for the other sentences brought up in your comments, I would categorize them as follows:

  • "Here/There I am, when I was six": inverted, like CamGEL 14iii

  • "Here's your instructions": subject Here, like CamGEL 14ii

  • "Here they are": inverted, like CamGEL 14iii

  • "And here's you": subject Here (like CamGEL 14ii?)

  • "And here you are": inverted, like CamGEL 14i

The parsing of sentences like [viewing a photograph] "There's my friend" seems ambiguous to me: I think either "There" or "my friend" could be the subject here.

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  • H&P say "in [iiia/b] (a. Here’s/There’s the money I owe you. b. Here are your instructions.) it is still the post-verbal NP that is the subject, as evidenced by the fact that the verb agrees with this NP." But instead of [iiib], you can also say Here's your instructions. H&P say further about [iiia/b]: "When the NP is a personal pronoun, it precedes the verb, in the nominative case: Here they are." But isn't this also the case with [ii] (Here's/There's me, when I was six.)? I think you can also say Here/There I am, when I was six. in the context of [ii].
    – JK2
    Commented Feb 25 at 0:37
  • So when Here's/There's me, when I was six and Here/There I am, when I was six mean the same thing, they're different constructions, but when Here's your instructions and Here they are mean the same thing, they're the same construction?
    – JK2
    Commented Feb 25 at 1:32
  • Also, in the context of [iiia] (Here’s/There’s the money I owe you), you still can use a personal pronoun either way: And here's you or And here you are. Do you also think these are different constructions?
    – JK2
    Commented Feb 25 at 2:05
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    Is your added explanation in line with CamGEL? Or is it simply your own opinion? Also, if here/there is the subject in Here's/There's you, when you were young and Here's your instructions, why can't we make them a question? *Is here/there you, when you were young? *Is here your instructions?
    – JK2
    Commented Feb 25 at 4:01
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+100

The analysis in CoGEL (A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, Quirk et al., 1985 edition) does not agree with CGEL, and provides, I believe, the right point of view. "Here" and "there" are not to be considered as subjects since they are adverbs. The fact that "me" is an accusative form in standard grammar means little: this answer makes that clear.

18.23 Subject-verb inversion

The clause patterns SVC and SVA have their obligatory third element in large measure because the V is commonly of itself so lacking in communicative dynamism:
SVC: Her oval face was especially remarkable. [1]
SVC: The sound of the bell grew faint. [2]
SVA: His beloved body lies in a distant grave. [3]
In consequence, where information processing makes it desirable to front the third element concerned, the result would tend to be bathetic or misleading if normal order were preserved with the SV, suggesting that a nuclear focus be placed, inappropriately, on the verb:
CSV: ? Especially remarkable her oval face was. [1a]
CSV: ? Faint the sound of the bell grew. [2a]
ASV: (?) In a distant grave his beloved body lies. [3a]

If these were not to be dismissed as merely bad style, we would tend to read [1a] as equivalent to '… certainly was'; [2a] as 'growing louder, though nonetheless faint'; [3a] as 'being in a prone posture' (rather than, say, foetally curved). In consequence, such fronting naturally carries with it the inversion that puts S in final position, and indeed it is to achieve end focus on the S that the fronting is generally undertaken:
CVS: Especially remarkable was her oval face. [1b]
CVS: Faint grew the sound of the bell. [2b]
AVS: In a distant grave lies his beloved body. [3b]
These particular examples have a rather mannered tone (poetic in the case of [2b] and [3b]), but the phenomenon is common enough in ordinary informal speech:

  • Here's the milkman.
  • Here comes my brother.
  • And there at last was the book I'd been looking for.
  • (The jets caused a great gust of wind and) off flew their hats.
  • Down came the rain.
  • Up went the flag.

In these instances with here/there + be, indeed, it is not simply a matter of stylistic choice: there is a sharp difference of meaning from the alternatives with SVA order. Although we must ditinguish these from existential there, there is in fact a close simîlarity. In contrast to ASV, the SVA order invites us not merely to put the nuclear focus upon the A but to see these adjuncts as referring to specific places. Compare:

  • Here's the milkman - he's come at last.
  • The milkman is here - at the door: shall I get two pints?
  • There's the book I want - I've been looking for it all week.
  • The book is there - by the typewriter.

Addition prompted by user JK2's comment

  • H̲e̲r̲e̲’̲s̲/̲T̲h̲e̲r̲e̲’̲s̲ ̲m̲e̲, when I was six. (1)

  • I am here, (that's) when I was six. (2)

In this form of the sentence ((2), SVA), "am" is lacking in what is called communicative dynamism, because it can be used merely as a factual assertion that aims at providing the information plainly as a missing piece of information or as new information, and, no doubt, in a situation where people are browsing through a photo album, or examining a group picture, this is a form that will occasionally have its use; nevertheless, for the same purpose you can use "Here is me, when I was six.", but it is then rather necessary to stress "here", otherwise the communication (if, instead, "me" is stressed) would tend to be interpreted differently by the interlocutor; it is now interpreted by the interlocutor as new information provided with a signal that suggests a particular interest (communicative dynamism). The form considered in the OP is in most cases used that way (stressed "me").

But your excerpt from CoGEL doesn't directly address OP's construction. And I think it's possible CoGEL does address this particular construction somewhere else.

I can find in CoGEL no article more to the point than the article I used above (after a new perusal of the sections concerning this adverb, and after having given more thought to the question); the crux of the matter lies in recognizing that there is an inversion, that is, that the OP's form results from an inversion aiming at making of a plain communication something else, something more (let's say, for simplicity) stimulating.

A clue helping in seeing that an inversion is at the root of this construction may be the difference underlined in the following.

  • Here's my partner, let me introduce him to you.

This person, the partner, just appeared, but is not in the immediate vicinity of the interlocutors; then the locutor is in right to say as an alternative "My partner is here, let me …", and then he might fetch this person. Let's suppose now that this partner, being in presence of the interlocutors is being identified as such by them through the double agency of a deictic situation (as a most simple case, locutor and partner stand side by side) and the statement that has just been uttered; then the speaker is not really justified in using the normal order which makes for a plain statement of facts ("My partner is here, let me …").

The reality of an impossible inversion, here, shows that the adverbial nature of "here" is lost and that in fact we are dealing with a presentative, in other word an idiomatic turn.

The fact that "am" becomes "is" and that "I" becomes "me" in the process is certainly puzzling, but "I" becomes "me" in English when the pronoun is in complement territory; this is not according to strict grammatical principles but it's become a standard; as to "am" becoming "is", that seems to be just another case of a common phenomenon of person change (of which I will now list examples).

In colloquial style "here's" is often used with plurals (PEU, Michael Swan)

  • Here's your keys. (presentative, no adverb)
  • Here's your nice , sweet cakes ! Two for a penny . Here's your cakes , sweet cakes ! (All Aboard! A History of Railroads in Michigan -- Willis Frederick Dunbar · 1966 ·) (adverb, "Your cakes are here")
  • Here is your father saying Don't cry , haneyay , why are you crying ? Here is you saying I am so worried for Jacques Cousteau (Teeth - Aracelis Girmay · 2007) (In this very work by Girmay you can also find "Here are your tears […]". Note that "here is" is not to be taken literally; in this case it is a fixed phrase meaning something like "picture < someone > as"; writing "Your father is here, saying …" and "You are here, saying …" is not even an approximation to what is meant. Nevertheless, "are" becomes "is".)

"Here" as an adverb could be the subject of the sentence in just two cases according to CoGEL.

CoGEL § 10.15 Adverbial forms as subject

The subject is normally realized by a noun phrase or a nominal clause. In certain restricted contexts (all informal) prepositional phrases, adverbs, and adverbial clauses -all of which normally realize the adverbial element in the clause - function as subject. Two conditions allow this use of adverbials:
    (i) the adverbial is a fragment of an understood clause, or
    (ii) the sentence can be related to one with prop it:

  • Slowly is exactly how he speaks. ['Speaking slowly is exactly how . . .'l
  • Out on the lake will be splendid. ['A trip out on the lake will be splendid']
  • Whenever you are ready will be fine. ['It will be fine whenever.. .';
  • cf: Sunday will be fine]
  • Will after the show be soon enough?
  • Because Sally wants to leave doesn't mean that we have to.

In "Here's me ", the adverbial does not seem to be a fragment of any possible clause.

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  • 1
    'It's me/us' v 'There are the Browns' show that pushing analyses (especially based on patterning) too far with idioms is unwise. 'Here's the good news and the bad' is acceptable. Commented Feb 23 at 13:11
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth I think this is one of the stumbling blocks for non-native speakers. English is incredibly idiomatic and does not always match its own patterns of grammar, let alone of the grammar of foreign languages...
    – fev
    Commented Feb 23 at 13:51
  • @fev Keeps us all interested. Commented Feb 23 at 17:19
  • 2
    This doesn't answer the question of why we'd say "Here's me when..." instead of "Here am I when..." The issue is one of subject-verb agreement and case.
    – alphabet
    Commented Feb 23 at 21:32
  • Also: in the answer you linked, about "It is me," the "me" isn't the subject. But on your analysis, in "There's me," the word "me" is the subject. So these two cases aren't parallel.
    – alphabet
    Commented Feb 23 at 21:35
-1

The construction you provided in (1), "[viewing a yearbook] Here/There are my classmates," is indeed slightly different from the example provided in [14ii] from "The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language" (CGEL). Let's break down the differences:

Subject-Verb Agreement: In [14ii], the verb form is "was," indicating singular agreement with the subject "me." In (1), the verb form is "are," indicating plural agreement with the subject "my classmates." Grammatical Function of "Here/There": In [14ii], "Here/There" is analyzed as the subject, and "me" is the predicative complement. In (1), "Here/There" is functioning as an adverbial indicating location, and the subject is "my classmates." So, while both constructions involve the use of "Here/There," the grammatical structures and functions differ. In [14ii], "Here/There" is treated as the subject, whereas in (1), it introduces the location of the subject "my classmates."

CGEL's analysis in [14ii] focuses on a specific usage where "Here/There" is reanalyzed as subjects, with the pronoun serving as a predicative complement. This analysis doesn't encompass all possible uses of "Here/There" in different constructions, such as the one you provided in (1). Therefore, it's not necessarily that CGEL's analysis is wrong, but rather that it's focused on a particular grammatical phenomenon.

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