*'Here's' or 'There's' Before a Plural

Here’s a sentence I came across recently in an article about California Governor Jerry Brown taking nonessential cell phones from state employees.

“The step is among many Brown has taken to address the state’s massive budget deficit, which now stands at about $13 billion. Here’s a few other things he’s instituted.”

Like “there’s,” the contraction “here’s” gets used a lot in front of plurals, especially when some modifier like “a few other” or “some” comes before the noun. “Here’s some things you should know.” “Here’s all the ways you can look at this problem.”

I don’t remember who taught me so or when, but somewhere I picked up the clear message that, when the stuff that follows is plural, you should use “here are” instead of “here is” or its contracted form “here’s.”

Here are some examples.

Here are all the ways to approach this.

Here are a few of my many relatives.

It’s easy to confuse these structures because they put the subject after the verb, which isn’t all that common in English.

“Here are my cousins” is an inverted way of saying “My cousins are here.” In either case, the true subject of the verb is “cousins.” And because “cousins” is plural, logic dictates that it should take a plural verb like “are” instead of a singular verb like “is.”

Actually, though, there’s no prohibition against using “here’s” before a plural. As with “there’s,” you could make the case that putting “here’s” before a plural is standard in common speech -- idiomatic. So I’m not critical of people who make that choice unless they happen to be members of the media writing for publication. News organizations strive to avoid sloppy, informal, ungrammatical forms. They hold themselves to a higher standard, which seems like a good idea to me.

So it’s unfortunate that the “here’s a few other things” sentence appeared on a blog of a major newspaper, the Orange County Register. In my view, it wasn't a good call.

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3 Responses to “*'Here's' or 'There's' Before a Plural”

  1. a few is singular so wouldn't here's a few be correct?

  2. Tony: Words like "few" are often treated as plural in meaning even though they're singular in form. Ditto that for "some." It's one of those situations where your first instinct is usually right.

  3. A few of what, though? You wouldn't say "a few cat", you'd say "a few cats". The plural, "cats", is what makes it correct to write "here are" rather than "here is" or "here's".