Word Confusion: There’s versus There’re

Posted July 27, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This particular word confusion is one of mine, and since I don’t want to suffer alone, I figure there might be a few writers out there with the same problem.

My go-to is there’s whether it’s singular or plural, and I’m always having to replace mentally that apostrophe with the missing letters to be sure I have the right verb tense.

‘Cause it’s all about verb agreement.

Consider the following:
Singular Verb Plural Verb
There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Yep, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

There’re more ways to skin a cat than you can shake a stick at.

I suppose there are several ways to skin a cat.

There’s the boat.

There is the boat. It’s just one boat.

There’re the boats.

There are the boats. Because there is more than one boat, one uses are as the plural verb form.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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there is / there has / there was
there are / there were
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: there’s

Samuel Adams standing behind a desk and pointing at a scroll.

“Samuel Adams” by John Singleton Copley is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

See, there’s the scroll I was telling you about.

An oil painting on copper of naked women in a forest

“Diana and Aktaion” by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Jacob de Backer, c. 1595, is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I told you there’re more naked women right there.

Part of Grammar:
Both phrases combine a pronoun with verb
Contraction of there is, there has, there was Contraction of there are, there were

is is a simple present verb form of be

was is a simple past verb form of be

has is a present perfect verb form of have

are is a simple plural present verb form of be

were is a simple plural past verb form of be

Used as a grammatical subject, especially with to be, to introduce the actual subject

That place

Look, John, there’s been a change in the scheduling.

So there’s this naked lady at Walmart…

There’s sure to be a chill in the air.

I gotta tell ya, there’s no there there.

Why don’t you make us a cuppa tea, there’s a good girl.

Look, John, there’re lots of changes in the scheduling.

So there’re these naked ladies at Walmart…

There’re lots of blankets in the hall closet.

There’re sure to be lots of people there.

History of the Word:
There is Old English thǣr, thēr is of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch daar and German da, also to that and the.
First Known Use: 1580

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

“Man Standing Above City” by Aurimas Gudas is under the FreeImages.com Content License, via Free Images.com.