Here's The Issue: You Often Mean 'Here Are'

The screenshot pictured here is from Plants Vs Zombies 2. "There's too many tombs. Let's clear them out," it proclaims. Seems like someone at PopCap forgot the final round of grammar checking.

The correct phrasing is: "There are too many tombs. Let's clear them out." 'There's' expands unambiguously to 'there is', and "There is too many tombs" is simply not correct.

This error is even more common with 'here's'. You don't have to look far to find problematic examples such as this one from Time Out

Here's our top five albums of the month

Again, the correct version is "Here are our top five albums of the month". "Here is our top album of the month" would be OK, but as soon as more than one album is involved, you need 'are'. And if you think that sounds overly formal, consider "These are our top five albums of the month" or "Here's the list of our top five albums of the month". (With the same approach, if the Plants Vs Zombies 2 developers thought "There are too many tombs" wouldn't fit, a simple "Too many tombs!" might have sufficed.)

How can you avoid these errors? Whenever you use an apostrophe to create a contraction, think about how the sentence would read if you expanded the contraction in full. If the expanded version is wrong, correct it or rephrase it. If you can't tell the difference between apostrophes for contraction and apostrophes for possession, check out our detailed guide.

Yes, we're grateful that the game at least managed to use the apostrophe correctly in 'let's', but that doesn't excuse the other error. Accuracy matters.

Lifehacker's Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


Comments

    I think "Here’s our top five albums of the month" expands with implication to "Here is our list of top five albums of the month"
    Unless they're physically giving you 5 albums

    Last edited 22/07/13 2:36 pm

      Many people might understand it that way, but being accurate means everyone can understand it and no-one gets annoyed.

        I like how Gizmodo, Lifehacker, and the other sister sites always lecture us on how to use proper spelling and grammar. YET, they themselves are often unable to do so.

    I'm not sure about this one - MYL is my guilty pleasure article, it allows me to surf the rest of the interwebs without going insane.

    But this particular mistake... wouldn't you say that it's a locative statement rather than an existential one? That is, the sentence is saying "Too many tombs over there!" rather than "Too many tombs exist!"

    And there’s only one "there". I think you may have missed the mark on this one.

      I don't agree with your analysis, though I can see the basis. The issue in this case is that the "there are" interpretation relies on assuming an end to the sentence which is in no way indicated. "There is too many tombs" is definitely wrong, as is "There is too many tombs over there". "There are too many tombs over there" is fine, but it's a stretch to assume both expansions from the scrrenshot. The key point? If you expand the contraction, you avoid the ambiguity and you avoid the problem.

    Linguistic prescription has a long and illustrious history of preventing improper language from creeping into daily usage /s

    Good luck with this one ;)

      I'm well aware that language changes. Doesn't mean particular rules don't apply at this moment in time, especially in professional contexts.

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