English clauses always have a subject:

His father has just retired. Was a teacher. > He was a teacher.
I’m waiting for my wife. Is late. > She is late.
Look at the time! Is half past two.> It’s half past two.

except for the imperative (see more)

Go away.
Play it again please.

If we have no other subject we use there or it.

there

We use there as a dummy subject with part of the verb be followed by a noun phrase. (see Clauses, sentences and phrases):

• to introduce a new topic:

There is a meeting this evening. It will start at seven.
There has been an accident. I hope no one is hurt.

• with numbers or quantities:

There was a lot of rain last night.
There must have been more than five hundred in the audience.

• to say where something is:

There used to be a playground at the end of the street.
There are fairies at the bottom of the garden.
I wonder if there will be anyone at home.

• with an indefinite pronoun or expressions of quantity and the to-infinitive:

There is nothing to do in the village.
There was plenty to read in the apartment
There was nothing to watch on television.
There is a lot of work to do

If we want to show the subject of the to-infinitive we use for:

There is nothing for the children to do in the village.
There was plenty for us to read in the apartment
There was nothing for them to watch on television.
There is a lot of work for you to do.

• with an indefinite pronoun or expressions of quantity and an -ing verb:

There is someone waiting to see you.
There were a lot of people shouting and waving.

We use a singular verb if the noun phrase is singular:

There is a meeting this evening. It will start at seven.
There was a lot of rain last night.
There is someone waiting to see you.

We use a plural verb if the noun phrase is plural:

There are more than twenty people waiting to see you.
There were some biscuits in the cupboard.
There were a lot of people shouting and waving.
 

It

We use it to talk about:

• times and dates:

It’s nearly one o’clock.
It’s my birthday.

• weather:

It’s raining.
It’s a lovely day.
It was getting cold.

• to give an opinion about a place:

It’s very cold in here.
It will be nice when we get home.
It’s very comfortable in my new apartment.

• to give an opinion followed by to-infinitive:

It’s nice to meet you.
It will be great to go on holiday.
It was interesting to meet your brother at last.

• to give an opinion followed by an -ing verb:

It’s great living in Spain.
It’s awful driving in this heavy traffic.
It can be hard work looking after young children.

  

Using "it" to talk about people

We use it to talk about ourselves:

• on the telephone:

Hello. It’s George.

• when people cannot see us:

[Mary knocks on door] It’s me. It’s Mary.

We use it to talk about other people:

• when we point them out for the first time:

Look. It’s Sir Paul McCartney.
Who’s that? I think it’s John’s brother.

• when we cannot see them and we ask them for their name:

[telephone rings, we pick it up] Hello. Who is it?
[someone knocks on door. We say:] Who is it

 

Task 1

 Exercise

Task 2

 Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Hi, sir.
I am having a problem with the use of "there is" and "there are" in the following sentence.
Can u tell me if I should use there is or there are?

a) There is/ are an mango tree and a durian tree in my backyard.

My friend suggests me to write the sentence in following way: A mango tree and a durian tree are in my backyard.
Tq

Hi Omyhong,

The most common rule here is to match the verb (is/are) with the first item in any list. For example:

There is a cat in the kitchen. ['a cat' = singular, so we use is]

There are two dogs in the kitchen. ['two dogs' = plural, so we use are]

There is a cat and two dogs in the kitchen. ['a cat' = singular, so we use is]

There are two dogs and a cat in the kitchen. ['two dogs' = plural, so we use are]

 

However, this is a complex area with many nuances. You can find a discussion of the topic here if you wish to investigate further.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

''There is many of them''

''There is too many of them''

What verb form should we use in these situations? I cannot figure out whether the noun phrase is singular or plural.

Thank you.

Hello MCWSL,

Sometimes in informal speech, people use the singular form 'there is', but really 'there are' is the correct form here, since 'many of them' is plural. 'many' is always plural, since it refers to more than one thing.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I'd like to ask you something. My teacher told me about the word "live". It doesn't accept the ing-form according to the grammatic. Is it true?

Thank you!

Hello adamjr,

The form 'living' is a perfectly correct form. It is the present participle/gerund form of the verb 'live'.

Your teacher may have been talking about the word 'life', which is a noun and does not have an -ing form.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I love to warm up my English like this.

Sir, Could I use there like- in first sentence
"She was asking you to check if in the bank account, there has been deposited a amount of 10,000 rupees and could I put the parse 'in the bank account' in the end of the sentence as well"
or can it be made like this only-
"She was asking you to check if an amount of 10,000 rupees has been deposited in the bank account" are both right ?

Hello SonuKumar,

In an older style of English, the kind of phrasing that you're asking about (with 'there') was more common, but these days it is so rare that I wouldn't advise using it in the vast majority of situations.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Teachers,
I have a sentence here:
"Venezuela does not produce wheat and relies on imports bought in by the government which it then sends to mills where it is ground and then distributed."
There are 2 'it' in this sentence, one refer to 'Venezuela' the other refer to 'wheat'. I wonder is it correct to use 'it' in this way, isn't it seem ambiguous to the reader?
Thank you

Pages