Grammar Tip – There: Singular or Plural Verb

Susan’s question: “I saw this recently on a television network’s van: Now there’s a million ways to connect. Is this correct?”

Bizwritingtip response: Good catch. This is not correct. The author elected a catchy slogan over a grammatically correct one.

Whenever you start a sentence with “there” or “here” the verb agrees with the closest noun that follows. In this case, the closest noun is “ways.” (Million is an adjective.) The verb has to be plural.

However, “there’s” is the contraction for “there is” or “there has.” Both are singular. They cannot be followed by a plural noun.

Examples (when the noun is plural)

There are a million ways to connect.
There are fifty ways to leave your lover.
Here are the reports you requested.

Examples (when the noun is singular)

There’s something about Mary.
There’s got to be a solution to the problem.

And they say no one pays attention to grammar anymore! I am impressed, dear reader.

J Watson Training Jane Watson Tel 905.820.9909 North America's Grammar Guru

2 Responsesto “Grammar Tip – There: Singular or Plural Verb”

  1. Evelyn Bell says:

    Hi Jane,

    I just wanted to comment that the question you answered today is a contender
    for my pet peeve! I hear it ALL the time, whether on TV, at church, or just
    in conversation:

    “Here’s your scores.”
    “There’s better ways of doing that.”
    “Where’s the boxes I set right here?”

    And on and on…when you start listening for it, it’s amazing how often it
    occurs.

    Aargh!!!

    Best,

    Evelyn

  2. Jeff Smith says:

    I do believe the illogical and ungrammatical use of “there’s” with a plural subject is becoming increasingly widespread: even leaders of English-speaking nations and high-profile broadcast journalists are using it.

    I have even contacted a couple news organizations to express my wish that they preserve our ears and the language by enforcing standard usage!

    Kind regards,
    Jeff

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>