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03/12/01: "Here" and "There"

Can you tell what is wrong with these sentences?

1. There's many causes of school violence.
2. Here is the sales report, the market analysis, and the strategic plan. 3. Here's three good reasons to buy your office supplies from us.
4. There is Harry, Sue and Michael.

Each of these sentences incorrectly pairs the singular verb "is" with a plural subject.

The words "here" and "there" will never be the subject in any clause, but when sentences begin with those words, often the writer automatically uses a singular verb without looking ahead in the sentence to determine whether the subject is singular or plural. Word processing software programs that are designed to highlight poor grammar and usage often fail to recognize these errors; the programs are not sophisticated enough to recognize that the singular noun following the verb is only one part of what is, in fact, a plural subject.

Here is each of those sentences with the correct (plural) verb:

1. There ARE many causes of school violence.
2. Here ARE the sales report, the market analysis, and the strategic plan.
3. Here ARE three good reasons to buy your office supplies from us.
4. There ARE Harry, Sue, and Michael.

Sentences 2 and 4 are especially challenging because in each case a singular noun ("the sales report" and "Harry") immediately follows the plural verb, and such juxtaposition troubles our ears. But those singular nouns are only part of the plural subject in these sentences. In sentence 2, the complete subject is "the sales report, the market analysis, AND the strategic plan." In sentence 4, the subject is "Harry, Sue, AND Michael."

To keep our ears happy AND to be correct, we might rewrite the sentences this way:

The sales report, the market analysis, and the strategic plan are in this folder.
Harry, Sue, and Michael are over there.

Writers have a tendency to start too many sentences with the word "there." Many of those sentences could easily be rewritten, often in fewer words. Consider these examples:

Original sentence: There are ten people serving on the zoning committee. Rewritten sentence: Ten people serve on the zoning committee.

Original sentence: There is a squirrel making noise in our attic. Rewritten sentence: A squirrel is making noise in our attic.

TEST YOURSELF: Is the verb correct in each of these sentences?

1. Here's the list of addresses you asked me to compile.
2. There is a casserole, a fruit salad, and a lemon pie in the refrigerator.
3. There's not enough hours in the day for me to complete my work.
4. Here's the top ten reasons for subscribing to the Get It Write tip-of-the-week service.

Copyright Get It Write 2001.

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