4

Is if there's any grammatical in the sentence below?

I'll need to look up Huddleston and Pullum's opinion on this issue, if there's any.

The source is the last sentence of an answer on this website.

To me, there is can't be contracted here. But I can't explain why. Is it because the verb to be needs to stand on its own here? Is there some rule that says this?

What if the writer added a few words like in this sentence:

I'll need to look up Huddleston and Pullum's opinion on this issue, if there's any to be found.

Does that make it grammatical? If so, why? Does using a second to be have anything to do with it?

3

You're quite right. In this context, is bears the emphasis—the poster is raising the consideration of whether there is (or is not) any opinion expressed on this matter in CGEL. Consequently it cannot be contracted.

However, if the poster had written this, the contraction would be proper:

I'll need to look up Huddleston and Pullum's opinion on this issue. If there's anything relevant there, I'll add it to this answer.

In that case, the emphasis might be on anything, relevant or there, but the contraction makes it clear that the emphasis is not on is.

  • What feels odd is the mismatch between "there is" and "any". Is it singular or plural? Any is usually matched with a plural noun -- but not always (i.e. "do you have any idea ..."). So it's grammatically fine but still sounds off. – Andrew Oct 15 '16 at 17:12
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    @Andrew I suspect what's bothering you about there is isn't really the use with any, it's the odd lurch opinion takes from being a product of its authors to having an independent existence: I think most of us would say If they have any -- or, as you suggest, if they have one, though CowperKettle's probably aware that H&P rarely have just one opinion on a subject! – StoneyB Oct 15 '16 at 17:42
  • "Any" follows a plural phrase, not a singular one. "I need to look up H&P, opinions, if they have any" is OK. So is "... H&P's opinions, if there are any". – alephzero Oct 15 '16 at 21:19
  • @alephzero Not so--consider He didn't express any opinion on the matter. According to CGEL, 1) 'non-affirmative' any is used a) with singular non-count nouns (I don't have any money), and b) with "various singular abstract nouns where the distinction between count and non-count is somewhat blurred" (They didn't make any attempt to justify their decision)". 2) 'Free-choice' any (Any policeman will be able to tell you) is used "with all three of the main kinds of heads: plural, count singular, and non-count." – StoneyB Oct 15 '16 at 22:01
2

It's informal speech

If there's any (something)

which is a shortened form of

if there (happens to be) any

If there's any reason, he'll let us know.
If there happens to be any reason, he will let us know

I'll need to look up ... opinion on this issue, if there's any.
I'll need to look up ... opinion on this issue, if there is any (opinion available)
I'll need to look up ... opinion on this issue, if there happens to be any (opinion available)

  • This doesn't answer my question. – user43205 Oct 16 '16 at 2:07
0

I agree with you: there is can't be contracted here, because is bears the full stress of the clause. My first guess was that it was written by somebody whose native language is not English, and this turned out to be true (although the rest of that linked post is perfect): CowperKettle's native language is Russian.

  • /if there's any/ at the end of a spoken or informal sentence is perfectly fine if the noun to which it refers is uncountable. Opinions are are countable, ergo, the sentence's grammar is wrong. Are there any opinions by lawyers on the website? I'll go there to see if there are any. – Lambie Oct 15 '16 at 20:43
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    I agree with TonyK. "If there's any" is odd in British English unless it is followed by a stressed word. "I'll get some coffee, if there is any" or "I'll get some coffee, if there's any left", are both fine, but "Ill get some coffee, if there's any." is not - and informally it might result in the joking reply of "If there's any what?" – alephzero Oct 15 '16 at 21:26
  • Of course, it can be contracted. //If there's any, bring some cake here right now. //The problem is one of American English where people do not know the difference between countable and uncountable nouns. That is actually the whole issue here. And by discounting that, you are discounting basic English grammar. And I surprised all you BrE are not aware of that. I guess not many of you really know the grammar at all. – Lambie Oct 16 '16 at 3:01
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1) I'll need to look up Huddleston and Pullum's opinion on this issue, if there's any.

INCORRECT. Opinions by lawyers are countable nouns.

There is or there are.

2) I'll need to look up Huddleston and Pullum's opinion on this issue, if they have one. [one opinion, countable] CORRECT: If there is or isn't a single opinion, it should be: if there is one or if there's one [informal]

3) I'll need to get some coffee from the jar, if there's any. CORRECT Coffee is uncountable: any coffee, any tea, any information.

Ergo: /if there's any/ is fine at the end of a sentence in informal-type speech, which reflects actual spoken language and if the noun to which it refers is a countable noun/

  • A husband says Will you get me some hot coffee from the kitchen? The wife says I will, if there's any. This wife's sentence sounds bad. – user43205 Oct 16 '16 at 2:11
  • No, it does not. It's fine, it's grammatically correct and people actually say that kind of thing all the time. But probably the wife would say: I will, if there's any LEFT.That said, one can imagine situations where, one say if there's any: By the way, if there's any LEFT suggests one had made some coffee, my example is NOT that: I'll need to get some coffee from the jar, if there's any. – Lambie Oct 16 '16 at 2:53

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