…And it’s not King Charles.
As a writer, I try to be grammatically correct most of the time. Sometimes, I take a good bit of poetic license with the language, but I still try to stick fairly close-by to the rules. Lately, I’ve been noticing that one of the rules of grammar is being almost completely ignored, by almost everyone.
I noticed it, because it is one of my grammatical pet peeves, but it is becoming so ubiquitous that I’m afraid it’s going to wind up in the dictionary as acceptable slang soon. At first, I just heard a few people on TV use it, but now, it’s even popping up in commercials, news broadcasts, and I even heard an eminent scientist use it in a YouTube short video.
What’s the problem. The problem is the use of the contraction, “There’s.” As you all know, it stands for “There is” so it should be followed by a singular noun, as in There’s a problem in English usage. Nowadays, however, it’s being used no matter if the noun is singular or plural.
When it refers to something that is plural, it should be “there are,” as in There are problems. Nobody would say There is problems, but it seems that a lot of people are saying things like “There’s problems.” It is especially glaring to me when it appears in commercials, because they are written by professional writers, and the copy is scrutinized over and over before it’s approved. Yet, in two different online commercials for Thriftbooks.com they said things like, “There’s millions of reviews…or…There’s over 5 million of them. I point out Thriftbooks, because they cater to people who read, so I would think that they, if anybody, would use proper English. However, they are not alone. Many commercials make the same mistake, and now that I’ve pointed it out, I’m sure you’ll hear it quite frequently.
I knew it was time to say something about this sad trending, when I watched a YouTube video short in which Neil deGras Tyson, a science educator, said, “There’s tens of millions of stars…” This incorrect usage of the contraction is spreading too far, so I’m trying to do my part to convince people to stop using there’s when there are should be used.
While I’m at it. I’d like to also talk about another problem and a word that is not spreading, though with all the pronoun talk we’re having nowadays, it should be. Decades ago, while writing a short story. I didn’t want to give away the identity of the person I was writing about until the very end, so to hide even their gender from the reader, I coined the word hirm to mean either him or her, a gender unknown pronoun to replace the awkward “he/she.” It amazed me at the time that we have a gender-neutral plural pronoun, them, but, to the best of my knowledge, the singular case gender-neutral pronoun was yet to be invented. So, I invented one. It turned out to be useful for me in that story, but “hirm” never caught on with anyone else.
Nowadays with so much debate about which personal pronouns to use to refer to a person, I would like to submit to dictionaries everywhere my word hirm as a useful gender-neutral pronoun.
Peace & Love, and all of the above.
2 thoughts on “America, there’s an English Problem…”
Yup, what’s happening ? Who do we blame for this ?
I’m not blaming anyone. Languages evolve. Our American/English language is constantly evolving. I’m just trying to direct the course a little.
There is a good quote by John Burroughs: “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame someone else.”