it and there

 

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

Comments

In the topic "It and there", britishcouncil.org has explained the use of dummy subject "there" with "was/were" depending on the phrase following the verb "be" being singular or plural. However, this type of usage has not been explained under the sub-topic dummy subject "it".
Query: (please explain with three or four example sentences)
This sentence is from a popular English magazine:
Sentence: "maybe it was coins, spilled from a fallen purse"
My question: why do they have used singular noun "it" with singular verb "was" when the subject compliment "coins" is plural?

Further sentences of similar construction:
"It was coins, cans, and whatever debris was solid enough to chuck from the crappy baseball seats"

Hello learningcub,

The verb is singular because the 'it' represents a singular subject here - something like 'the problem' or 'the cause' or 'the noise' etc. Without knowing the wider context, it is impossible to say what 'it' represents here. For example, the sentence could be:

I heard a strange noise. Maybe it was coind, spilled from a fallen purse.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi!
Thank you for this Internet resource! It's really helpfull and understandable!

But, I need your help! Could you explain me, why in the 9th sentense of 2 task you use "OR".

Hi SGM95,

We use 'or' when there are two options and one can be chosen or is possible:

this or that

black or white

rich or poor

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hey everyone,

I want to learn English, becuase i want to go in Australia and to live there. But i need to take the test of IELTS. Can you help me to talk with each other and to practice my english language.
Thank you,

Lavim Haxha

Hello Lavim Haxha,

For practice materials, tips and advice, mock exam questions and sample answers please take a look at the British Council's site for IELTS candidates, TakeIELTS.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir,
i want to know in task 2, why i write same word four times in fill in the blanks. what is reason.
thank.

Hello yogesh,

When it says '(4 words)', it means you have to write four different words in the gap to correctly complete it. If you press 'Submit', you'll see the answers and I think that should clear it up for you. 

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir,

This grammer is very difficult to understand me. please explain how to use it and there in english sentence

Hello R.KAVITHA,

I'm afraid you'll have to ask a more specific question. We're happy to help users with questions about what's on the page, but we simply have too much work to be able to explain what's already on the page in another way.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Pages