The Delayed Subject with There
In conversation we’d probably find ourselves tongue-tied if we couldn’t begin sentences with the grammatical subject there:
There are only three eggs left in the refrigerator.
There’s a lot of traffic on the freeway this morning.
In each example there begins the sentence, but the true subjects– eggs and a lot of traffic –are delayed until after the verb.
There is nothing grammatically wrong with this construction. Did you notice that I just wrote a sentence beginning with “There is”? Simply placing the true subject first would create Yoda-speak:
Nothing grammatically wrong with this construction is.
Rewriting an expletive sentence (the kind that begins with a subject place-holder like “There”) requires a little more effort than simple reversal. That’s probably why we let so many of them creep into our first drafts.
Compare the following:
There is research that shows that phonics is the most important component of beginning reading.
Research shows that phonics is the most important component of beginning reading.
Not only is the delayed subject pattern wordy, but it can also lead to a lack of subject-verb agreement. Here are some examples from websites offering professional services:
There’s good reasons EmCare is the industry leader
There’s areas of freezing drizzle/mist out there this afternoon.
There’s schooling costs, there’s health costs and they’ll continue to be provided out of the centres for those who are being temporarily resettled…(This was a government minister.)
Informal conversation is one thing, but writing for a professional purpose is something else again. If the “There is” opener is the preferred stylistic choice, then the delayed subject should agree with the verb that precedes it:
There are good reasons EmCare is the industry leader
There are areas of freezing drizzle
There are schooling costs…
Linguistically speaking, there’s may be the equivalent of French il y a, which can mean either “there is” or “there are” and there’s no reason for this article.
Practically speaking, a great many English speakers–potential customers and clients–cringe when they hear “there’s reasons,” let alone see it written in a business context.
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