Here Is or Here Are: Understanding Subject-Verb Agreement

Many people use these two terms interchangeably, which leads a new English speaker to wonder which form is correct — “here is” or “here are”? As with all English constructions, it’s important to know when to choose singular or plural verb forms.

In the case of “here is” and “here are,” both are correct, and whether to use “is” or “are” depends entirely on the succeeding noun. In English, the subject and verb must agree and, therefore, if the noun that follows is singular, then you should use “is,” and if the noun that follows is plural, then “are” is the correct choice. 

This article will explore the use of the phrases “here is” and “here are” as well as consider the rules that guide us on which one to choose. We will also look at the origins of “here” and understand how we came to use it in this context.

When Should I Use “Here Are” or “Here Is”?

“Here is” and “Here are” are both idioms we use to introduce a subject or action (source). The expressions are extremely common in spoken and written English. Consider the examples below, which all show the use of this construction in everyday English.

Here is the book.
Here are the books. 
Here is your sock.
Here are your socks.
Here is my favorite part of the garden.
Here are my favorite parts of the garden.

Any complete sentence needs a subject and a predicate, which usually includes a verb. When I say “here is the book,” then “the book” is the subject, and “is” is the verb. “Here” is an adverb of place, showing a location relative to the speaker.

As you can see, we use “here is” when we are introducing a subject or action that is singular, such as the book, your sock, or my favorite part of the garden. We use “here are” when introducing something plural, such as the books, your socks, or my favorite parts of the garden. 

Grammarians refer to this as subject-verb agreement, which is a basic principle of English grammar.

Subject-Verb Agreement

In English, sentence subjects and verbs must agree in number. This means that if the subject is singular, then the verb must also be singular. And likewise, if the subject is plural, then the verb must be plural too (source). 

Usually, the subject comes before the verb, but it’s the other way around in the “here is” construction. Any time you’re unclear on whether to use “here is” or “here are,” it can help turn the sentence around.

For instance, if you said, “My book is here” or “My book are here,” it would be obvious that the first one is the correct choice.

But it’s not always easy in English, and there are a couple of areas where the choice of “here is” vs. “here are” isn’t so clear. Let’s take a look at some of these for clarity on “here are” or “here is” grammar.

Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable nouns do not have a plural form. They’re nouns we cannot count or divide, such as air, sugar, or water. So do we say “here is” or “here are” when introducing uncountable nouns?

The answer is always to use the singular expression “here is” with uncountable nouns, as shown in the examples below.

Here is some sugar.
Here is some water for you.
Here is some rice.

As you will notice, we tend to use “some” together with uncountable nouns to imply a quantity. This is because we cannot use “a” or “an” or even a number before them (source). 

Groups of Nouns

When introducing groups of nouns, even if they are singular, we use the plural verb. Consider the two examples below.

Here is my mother and my brother.
Here are my mother and my brother.

It should be clear that the second option sounds right because we are talking about two people. Even though “my mother” is singular, it combines with “my brother” through the conjunction  “and,” so it becomes plural. Here are a few more examples.

Here are the tea, sugar, and milk.
Here are the hat, skirt, and shoes you needed.
Here are my husband and my colleague.

Words that Can Be Singular or Plural

Some words can be either singular or plural, depending on the context. These are words like “couple” or “family” that we can see either as one unit or a collection of individuals depending on their use in the sentence.

If I referred to “a couple of books,” I’d be talking about two books, but if I referred to “the romantic couple,” then I’m referring to one specific pair. In this case, they’d be treated differently, as shown below.

Here are a couple of books I think you’d enjoy.
Here is the romantic couple.

Consider the following examples of other nouns that can be singular or plural.

Here is a large family.
Here are all the family. 
Here is our committee (referring to the unit as a whole).
Here are our committee members (referring to the individual members).

Image by Tyler Nix via Unsplash

Contractions

We use contractions commonly in everyday speech, usually because they reduce the number of syllables and are easier to say. We generally don’t use them in formal written English unless we are reporting what somebody said.

“Here Is” Becomes “Here’s”

The contraction we use for “here is” is “here’s.” Most native English speakers will always use “here’s” in preference to “here is” because it’s easier to say and flows more naturally. Consider the examples below.

Here’s my mom now. 
Here’s the secret hiding place.
Here’s some advice for you. 

All of these would still be correct if we said “here is” in place of “here’s,” but in everyday speech, we’d be unlikely to do so.

Can “Here Are” Become “Here’re”?

It’s not quite the same for “here are.” Technically, this should become “here’re” if we follow the rules for contractions in English. However, “here’re” is not recognized as a formal word in English, and it doesn’t even appear in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. 

It’s also not that easy to say and doesn’t reduce the number of syllables. 

Certainly, in written English, it’s always advisable to rather use “here are,” especially in formal or professional communications. Consider the examples below, which you may hear in colloquial English but that are not strictly grammatically correct (source).  

Here’re my favorite brownies.
Here’re my sister’s shoes.
Here’re the questionnaires you requested

The Verb to Be

Both “is” and “are” are conjugations of the verb “to be,” which is one of the most common verbs in the English language. It’s also an irregular verb and one of the most difficult to master. Below is a table that summarizes the conjugation of “to be” in the three basic tenses.

Present TenseFuture TensePast Tense
I am
You are
He/she/it is
We are
They are
I will be
You will be
He/she/it will be
We will be
They will be
I was
You were
He/she/it was
We were
They were

Tenses of Here Is and Here Are 

Most sentences in English can be written in the three basic tenses. As you probably know, these are present, past, and future. Although we can conjugate the verb “to be” in all the tenses, we generally don’t use the phrase “here is” in any tense other than the present.

Although it’s not technically wrong, it would sound very odd to say, “here were the tickets” or “here will be the tickets.” The phrase “here is” or “here are” refers to something being in the same place as the speaker at that moment. Therefore, it doesn’t translate well into other tenses.

Alternatives to “Here Is” or “Here Are”

The obvious alternative to saying “here is” or “here are” is to turn the sentence around and place the verb before the subject, as shown in the examples below.

Here is the neighbor’s cat.
The neighbor’s cat is here.
Here are the flowers she gave me.
The flowers she gave me are here.

It doesn’t place quite the same emphasis on the location, but it does convey a similar message. 

There is no appropriate synonym for “here is” that emphasizes that the subject is in this place, and that’s probably why it’s such a commonly used phrase.

What Is “Here”?

Image by John Baker via Unsplash

Here is an adverb of place. It dates back as far as the 1200s when the English spelled it “her” in Old English, and it meant “in this place” or “on this spot.” Its roots come from the Germanic word “hi,” and we find similar words in Norse, Swedish, Dutch, and German (source). 

Common Phrases Using “Here”

There are various phrases containing the word “here” that are used regularly in English. These all date back many hundreds of years and are widely used in everyday spoken English. They include the following.

Here’s To

You will commonly hear the expression “here’s to” when you salute or celebrate somebody or something. It’s mostly used when toasting a person or an occasion in a speech, as shown in the examples below.

Here’s to Jack on his retirement.
Here’s to your health and happiness. 
Here’s to everything working out for you both.

Here Goes

“Here goes” indicates the beginning of something that is usually exciting or daunting. Read the examples below.

I’ve never dived from this high, so here goes!
This exam is going to be tough. Here goes nothing. 
This is my first attempt at skiing. Here goes!

In the second example, I might use the expression to imply that whatever doubts I may have might be justified.

Here and There

This means “in different places” and often functions to express things that are scattered about (source). See the sentences below to understand the context.

There was litter scattered here and there around the stadium.
The hall was empty except for the odd chair here and there.
She ran here and there around the garden, looking for her lost shoe.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Many often use this saying about something that lasts only a short time or is short-lived, as shown in the sentences below.

Many new fashions are here today, gone tomorrow.
Enjoy your happiness because it could be here today, gone tomorrow.
Money is often here today, gone tomorrow.

Here and Now

We use “here and now” to express that we are doing something at this present moment and in this current environment, as shown below. 

I’d really like to have more time. Do I have to decide here and now? 
I like to live in the here and now without always thinking about the future.
I’m trying to help people here and now, which is why I need to see immediate action.

To Be Neither Here Nor There

If something is “neither here nor there,” then it is usually not relevant to what is being discussed, as shown in the examples below.

She’s not coming on the excursion, so her opinion is neither here nor there.
Whether it’s $10 or $100 is neither here nor there. 
I don’t like Jack, but that is neither here nor there.

This article was written for strategiesforparents.com. 

You can read more about the tricky usage of “neither” by clicking on the link.

Final Thoughts

“Here is” and “here are” are both phrases that you will come across often in your study of English. It’s useful to remember that the subject and verb must always agree and that a singular noun will always take “is” while a plural noun will take “are.” 

We use these phrases to introduce something, and the construction draws attention to the position of that object, specifying that it is here, right in front of us. With practice, you will soon be able to judge whether “here is” or “here are” is the appropriate choice, and this will make your language more and more fluent. 

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