Wednesday, July 07, 2004

"There're" going extinct

A moment of silence, please, for the (fake) contraction "there're." In the past few months, it seems to have all but disappeared from spoken English. In its place: the newly all-purpose, if still ungrammatical, "there's."

Recent examples culled from the press and real life:
• "It's a worthwhile DVD. There's tons of extras."
• "There's great chefs in Vermont. There's great chefs all over New England."
• "Please don't say there's snakes or rats or dinosaurs coming on the set tonight!"
• "There's two things we're going to learn tonight..."

While I would never chide a stranger for misusage, I've become obsessed with this ripple in the language. Coming across a well used "there are" or "there're" is like finding ten dollars in my pocket. A private delight.

19 Comments:

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Mel said...

Except aren't all of these examples substitutions for a contraction that doesn't exist in English? The full meaning in each sentence is actually "There are" -- but we don't have "there're" which is why the "there's" (there is) has crept in.

but I will keep my eyes out for properly used "they're"s now. I personally am a fan of "it's" which is also fast disappearing.

 
At 3:41 PM, Blogger YelloCello said...

Oops -- grammatical egg on my face! The synapses weren't fully firing after I hastily tapped out the original title of this post. You're correct. What I meant to refer to was the slurred version of "there are" or "there're." Technically, the contraction does not exist in written English, but I do think that many of us have used it in speech. I stand by the observation that "there's" has become eerily all-purpose.

As for "it's," it's likely to turn up where it's not needed and to be omitted where it is.

 
At 9:18 AM, Anonymous nahra said...

Comepletely true. I hate it when people use "it's" instead of "its". It bugs me like an ever-present mosquito. =(

 
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At 3:15 AM, Blogger Frogtown said...

I will save the phrase single handeded by usinged it in conversationalism.

 
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At 4:45 AM, OpenID shamayaasura said...

I never use there's for plural stuff. It sounds so horrible -.-. I've used there're for such a long time. It seems like such a natural contraction to use.

I don't hear it spoken much though. But I certainly think it is a contraction that wouldn't hurt if used more, as opposed to the opposite.

 
At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use "there're" in spoken english all the time and i'm not a prescriptivist in terms of language--written language should reflect what's used and not what someone else thinks it should be.

 
At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After re-reading your post again it seems you're OK with "there're" after all. I think the reason people use "there's" instead of "there're" is because i think prescriptivists chide them for using "there're" since "there're" doesn't "officially" exist (at least from what I've seen)--therefore using something that already exists which agrees in person but not in number.

 
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At 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason that "there's" is being used for plurals is not that "there're" is frowned upon, but simply that uneducated people are more connected with everyone these days, the employment market being more variable and flexible. As well as this, uneducated people are continually heard on talk-back radio. So eventually, you get 'bogan-speak' becoming the norm.
And it gets worse, for now you commmonly hear "there is" followed by a plural. I heard this only 10 minutes ago on radio on an official advertisement, which is why I am now posting this comment.

 
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