Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The most abused word in the English language: "there's"

I have posted about this before, but I feel the need to do so again.

What is it with people--educated people, even professional broadcasters--using the singular verb "there's" followed by a clearly plural word? Here's an example I just heard on National Public Radio that sent me running to my computer and this blog:

A highly regarded reporter was just telling the studio broadcaster about what's happening in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is on the scene and was describing the aftermath of the recent attacks. Here's what she said:

"There's several bodies on the floor."

Now, this has become so commonplace in the last ten years, that nobody (except me and a few other grammarry-types) even notices.

"There's several bodies"?  I'd love to ask this reporter if she would ever say "There is several bodies." The answer, of course, would be "no."

You might think I'm making a mountain out of the proverbial mole-hill here (pardon the cliche), but if you use that type of language, don't you sound a bit less than educated? Why would you choose to do that, just because everyone else does, when you could choose to say it correctly (and just as easily) like this:

"There are five bodies on the floor." It doesn't take any longer.

Whenever you hear this type of thing--and I promise that if you listen for it, you'll be shocked at how widespread it is--and once you realize how terrible it sounds,  you'll stop doing it. It's not hard and doesn't cost anything.

And there are my thoughts for the day.

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