Grammar-QuizzesNoun PhrasesPronouns › There

"There" in Subject Position

Referring to the existence of something

dipping cookies in milk
 

 

There as subject placeholder vs. other wording

THERE 

There, usually followed by the verb "be", expresses the idea that something exists in an unspecified place. It functions in a similar way to it. Both can hold the subject position for content placed later in the clause.  Because there has no particular meaning, it is often called a "dummy pronoun". It is categorized as a locational preposition (with the noun included).

SUBJECT PREDICATE DiSPLACED SUBJECT
LOCATIONAL PREP V NP + COMPLEMENT

There       

is

milk. (an unspecified amount of it)

There       

is

milk on the table.  (PP)

milk there.  (locational prep)

There       

is

milk available².  (NP+Adj)

There       

is

something the matter. (N)

something wrong. (Adj)

There       

is

milk [for the baby] to drink. (infin)

milk *good to drink.  (infin)

milk for strong bones  (PP)

There       

is

milk that is missing.  (Relative Cls)

milk missing.  (Participle)

OTHER WORDING

A simpler wording places the subject ("milk") before the predicate.  The verb "be", in this case, expresses existence, and it requires a complement.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

SUBJECT PREDiCATE VERB COMP
NP V PP /NP /ADJ /INFIN /PART

Milk  

*is.

~exists.

(bare¹)

Milk  

is

on the table. (PP)

there. (PP)

Milk  

is

available. (Adj)

Something

is

the matter. (N)

wrong. (Adj)

Milk  

is

[for babies] to drink³. (infin)

good to drink. (Adj+Infin)

for strong bones. (PP)

Milk  

is

missing. (participle)

 

* not used / ~borderline acceptable, requires a special context

¹ bare – having no other complements that follow "be"; that is, he subject and predicate require some other word(s) to complete the meaning.

² Some adjectives are placed after the noun. See Adjective Order–Unbreakable Words.

³ What is milk for? Milk is to drink.  Milk is for babies to drink. (This differs in meaning from the wording with there. It answers purpose rather than expressing existence.)

Note that the complement "milk" is not a direct object.  No action is taken and no passive form can be constructed.

(Huddleston "Bare vs. Extended Existentials" 16 §6.2.1;  "Hollow Infinitives" 14 6.3, 4 §3.2.2)

 

Related pages:

There in Subject PositionMilk is on the table. → There is milk on the table.

Locational Prepositions (prepositions that include nouns) — here, there

It as Subject Placeholder  — That he is very funny is obvious. → It is obvious that he is very funny.

"It is" + Adj + Infin — Finding the answers is hard. → It is hard to find the answers.

"It takes" + Infinitive — To get ready takes ten minutes. → It takes ten minutes to get ready.

"Identifying 'be'"Rain is there. There is rain; Reciprocal Property (A + B = B + A)

 It / This Reference —  Gizmo developed a new appIt is amazing.  Gizmo managed to develop a new appThis is amazing.

 It Clefts  ("extraposition") — What he said was amazing. It was amazing what he said.

 It vs. There —  for weather, time and distance ("extraposition")

There/ Their / They're —  Look! They're in their new car over there.

 

 

 

 

"There" Agreement

With a series of nouns

 

 

 

There + be verb agreement

SINGULAR AGREEMENT

The verb following there commonly agrees with the closest noun even when there are multiple nouns or items. (British English differs.)

CLOSEST NOUN

              verb agrees with plural items in list 
There is        milk.

move rightverb agrees with plural items in list 
There is     a book, some pencils, and a notepad on my desk. (Eng-US)

 

PLURAL AGREEMENT

The verb following there may also be followed by a plural verb if there are multiple items. 

CLOSEST NOUN OR SERIES OF NOUNS

               verb agrees with plural items in list 
There are  cookies. 

                verb agrees with plural items in list 
There are some pencils, a book and a notepad on my desk.

There  are a book, some pencils, and a notepad on my desk.  (Br-Eng)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"There" is

With Inseparable Pairs

 

 

 

There verb agreement with a "inseparable pairs"

COMMON USAGE

Nouns that are commonly paired together (salt & pepper, ham & eggs) often occur with singular verb agreement. (informal)

There is milk and cookies on the table.

There is bacon and eggs on the menu. (a dish; a menu item)

There is salt and pepper on the plate.   (regarded as a single unit)

bacon and eggs

MORE FORMAL USAGE

In formal usage, noun pairs occur with plural verb agreement.

There are milk and cookies on the table.

There are bacon and eggs on the plate.

There are salt and pepper on the table.

 

pepper and salt

 

Related pages:  There – Existence,  There / Their, Here/There, It /There Pronouns

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice

Keeping Up with New Models

laptop
 

 

Sentence Agreement with There

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

keeping up (expression) –  maintain, keep current

 

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gazillion /gəˈzɪl yən/  — an informal and funny expression that means "a lot of" (with emphasis).

Related page Quantity Phrases / A number/The number of