Which is right on number agreement?


"And what are Slytherin and Hufflepuff?" "School houses. (1) There's four. Everyone says Hufflepuff (2) are a lot o' duffers, but --" (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

I guess, there’re is grammatically proper instead of (1)-there’s; but I’m not sure for (2)-are. Because are can be used except when Hufflepuff is regarded as a collective noun, I think. Would you let me know how to use the verb grammatically right?


Posted 2013-04-11T11:28:36.467

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5This is a question of dialect. (1) There's four is the way native Anglophones use the language. Of course it's grammatically incorrect, but it's idiomatic spoken & informal written English: idiom (oil) & grammar (water) don't mix. (2) Everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o' duffers is unexceptional in British English, but it'd more than likely not be said or written in American English. We'd say Everyone says Hufflepuff is/has a lot of duffers. It's a Q of how one perceives Hufflepuff: as a singular collective (use is) or a collection of individuals (use are). Both are OK. – None – 2013-04-11T13:07:58.620

1@Bill Franke: It's not obvious to me that there's = there are is any more "grammatically incorrect" than *ain't = am not*, as in "I ain't convinced". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2013-04-11T15:55:59.840

@Fumble: If you get a choice on the IELTS between "There's ten men in the room" & "There are ten men in the room", the correct answer is clear: "There are". What's grammatically correct is based on the standard dialect, which means the prestige dialect, which means the dialect that's tested by the TOEFL, TOEIC, & IELTS. They don't test for knowledge of local, regional, or substandard dialects. I don't teach local, regional, or substandard dialects except to explain that stuff like "There's 10 men in the room" & "I ain't misbehavin'" are idiomatic somewhere or other & informal. – None – 2013-04-11T17:53:49.680

@Fumble: And don't forget that my prime concern is with formal written prose (standardized English tests, academic journals, high-quality books that actually get copy edited, dissertations & theses, & perhaps the business reports in a few companies around the world), because that's the only linguistic arena that comes with style manuals & rules galore. The spoken language & the informal written language is much like the Roman Colosseum in its Lions versus the Christians heyday: bloody awfully unregulated & grammatically gory ("Murder most foul, as in the best it is."). – None – 2013-04-11T18:14:27.540



As said in the answers for this question, there's is often used in spoken English to mean there are.

Hufflepuff (which is the name of a school house) is used in that sentence to mean all the people who go to that school.


Posted 2013-04-11T11:28:36.467

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