there's a couple of them can walk and chew gum


Senior Member

The following excerpt has been taken from the book I'm now reading (The Touch of Ghosts, by John Rickard):

I hear there's a couple of them can walk and chew gum at the same time.


After giving some lectures to rookie recruits in Boston, some policemen and ex-FBI agents meet and exchange comments on each other's profession. (First the main character -- in a humorous way, I'd say -- describes the guy who utters the words in question)

What bothers me is the part in bold. Is there something missing? To me, it's who, but, of course, I might be unaware of some grammar rule. Is it an example of colloquial speech? (I know, we educated people....:)

)Thank you!


PS It's good to be back. I've seen some changes here....:)
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  • audiolaik

    Senior Member
    Thank you, Enquiring Mind, for your prompt reply. By the way, is this (wrong) omission of relative pronouns common in British English?


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi audio - welcome back!

    Here's a thread from yesterday on a similar construction: it is a lack of NOUN could be to blame.

    I see this type of omission of a subject relative pronoun as on the borderline between standard and non-standard English. I use it from time to time myself - though not in writing:).

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    This is pure colloquial English.. The person speaking is being extremely rude about the intelligence of the recruits. So grammer rules etc. are in the dustbin...


    Some of them are capable of doing two things
    1. a couple of them can walk and
    2. chew gum
    at the same time. Wow! They are on the ball......


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The key is the existential there's introducing it. This has been discussed multiple times here: the book rule is that a subject relative marker can't be omitted, but in fact colloquially (so colloquially that we wouldn't call it standard English and wouldn't say it's okay to write it) the relative marker can be omitted after an existential there's.

    The classic example is the Kirsty MacColl song 'There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis.'