Date: Sun, 27 Feb 1994 15:20:32 EST From: TERRY IRONS Subject: Re: there's > > I've been intrigued recently by the use of singular (?) there's in > plural contexts, i.e. "There's the books I've been looking for," or > "There's two ways to solve that problem," in unmonitored speech. Has > anyone noticed it, or better yet, studied and written on it? I'd be > interested in learning. > Terese Thonus > Indiana University > I am currently doing a descriptive study of special cases of agreement marking using a forced choice test. The results suggest that agreement is inherently variable in english, which makes it either a defective node (similar to that deletion in relative clauses) or a style rule. Am presenting paper on topic this week. To the point of your query, I used to There _____ items in my test (which actually originates from Don Lance a few years back). a. There _____ two boys and a girl in the room. b. There _____ a girl and two boys looking for you. Responses to a. are categorially plural. With b., however, 61% of informants select the singular There's/There is form. One is tempted to conclude that there really is no such thing as s-v # agreement in core grammar of english. There are (!) no number realizations for past tense nor for future time expressions using will. The only remnant is -s on third person present singular and some idiosyncratic auxiliaries. No such marking shows up on modal forms, what remains of subjunctive mood, or in complement constructions such as I saw him leave, etc. I am interested in hearing about any quantitative descriptive studies myself. Terry Irons