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

Hi,
Could you please tell me the difference between 'It's very cold in here' and 'It's very cold here'? Are both the two sentences right? Thank you very much.

Best,
Echo

Hi there!

I'm Toby and I'm an English teacher. I have a grammar problem that some of my students have asked me about and I just can't think of an answer.

It's regarding the tiny words 'it', 'is' and 'it's'.

For example; "I would be really upset if that it is what you are moving into."

Fine, we don't need BOTH 'that' and 'it' because they both represent the same thing from the previous sentence but some students, (specifically Spanish speaking students), make the same errors such as: "Is a beautiful day" or "I think is a great idea" without using 'it'.

Another example is: "They are absolutely out of place because they show .......... private life, which I believe it is not what you normally do."

The 'IT' here is obviously out of place and incorrect usage but WHY??

Can anyone give me a definitive rule or explanation on when we should use these small words, 'it, is and it's' ??

Thank you! :)

Toby

Hello Toby,

This kind of question is not really part of our remit here on LearnEnglish: we are focused on helping learners with their English, not teachers with their lessons. A better place to ask this is our sister-site Teaching English, which is designed for teachers of English.

In (brief) answer to your question, I think you need to separate different issues here: you are comparing sentences which are not similar. For example, the problem with the error 'Is a beautiful day' is the lack of a dummy subject - a subject inserted because a verb requires a subject in English and there is no other subject in the sentence. You can find information on dummy subjects here. On the other hand, your sentence which ends '...which I believe is not what you normally do' is an example of a relative clause; if the 'I believe' is removed then the relative clause is clearer: '...which is not what you normally do'. Looked at like this, it is clear that the subject of the verb 'is' is the relative pronoun 'which', and therefore no additional subject is required. You can find information on relative clauses here.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello duongtuan,

We don't have any materials designed for preparing you for the Key English Test (KET), but many of the materials on our site could be useful for that. I'd recommend Series 3 and Series 4 of the Elementary Podcasts as good places to start.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello magettarashid,

Yes, the most basic question for asking the time is 'What time is it?'. 'Could you tell me what time it is?' is another common, more polite version of the same question.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

i want to ask is English grammer is important to speak English??

Hello sara,

Yes, grammar is important for reading, writing, listening and speaking, as it is the way we use words to create and express meaning. That doesn't necessarily mean that you should study grammar in isolation. If you find working on grammar exercises useful, then it's a good idea to do them.

Many also find it useful to the resources under Listen & Watch such as the Elementary Podcasts to practise listening, speaking, grammar and vocabulary simultaneously. There's some useful advice on how to do this on our Help page.

I hope this helps you.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

My concern is about regional English pronunciation and spellings; British and America. As the language teacher at primary level, I discovered that occasionally, this two Regional English varies, although we are trained in Queen English and my country adopted it as the standard but there is no prohibition regard the use of other regional spellings and pronunciation; so most of our children are exposed to contents full of 'strange' spellings and pronunciation that contradict the traditional usage. If you call them to spell or pronounce, they end up having different spelling and pronunciation unique to individual exposure to specific Regional English. My question is, as a teacher; how do we manage this situation in a classroom? And how do we maintain the standard of good English in our institutions?

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