There Are vs. There Is, Reprise

It’s autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, and the birds are flying south for the winter.
Q: Have you ever wondered why they fly in a V formation with one leg of the V longer than the other?
A: There’s more birds on that side. Har, har, har!

This was in the local newspaper as a joke of the day, but it reminded me of a past Tip of the Day wherein I covered when to use “there is” and when to use “there are.”

So let’s examine the answer above: There ___ more birds on that side.

The subject of the sentence is not “there;” the subject is “birds,” which is plural.
Therefore, you should say: There are more birds on that side, rather than “there’s,” which is a contraction for “there is,” which would only be used for a single bird. It’s hard to make a V formation with just one bird – or two, for that matter. Seems you have to have three for a proper V.

So how shall we remember this without having to analyze the sentence for a singular or plural subject?

Simple. Just change the word “there” to “where” and see what sounds better.

Example:
There ___ the instructions for assembling the Combo-Botinator.
Where ___ the instructions for assembling the Combo-Botinator?
You would say: “Where are the instructions…,” so the verb in the first sentence should be “are.”
There are the instructions for assembling the Combo-Botinator.

It says “some assembly required” right there on the box.

Here’s a Good Question submitted by a member of the Peanut Gallery after my last tip.
Charles writes:
If enough is pronounced enuf
Women is pronounced wimen
caution is pronounced caushon

Is ghoti pronounced as fish?

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