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

Hello Sir
I have doubts regarding helping verbs(singular or plural) with following types of sentences:
There is a lot of work for you to do.-----(with a lot of.../lot of.../lots of..../ )
There was plenty to read in the apartment.-----(please elaborate all possibilities with plenty)

Thank You

Hello Svld,

The rule with quantifiers followed by 'of' is that the verb agrees with the noun following the quantifier:

There is a lot of / lots of / plenty of work to do. ['work' is an uncountable noun, so there is a singlar verb ('is)]

There were a lot of / lots of /plenty of people in the park. ['people' is a plural noun, so there is a plural verb ('are')]

However, the quantifiers one and each have singular verbs even if they are followed by 'of':

There is one of the books on the table.

It is a complex topic but I hope the rules of thumb above are helpful.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Would you explain it to me that how can we use (there was a lot of rain last night) in above material when we use 'it' for weather.

Hi ocpdba,

When it says that it is used to talk about the weather, that doesn't mean the only way to talk about the weather is using it. That just means that one way to talk about the weather is beginning a sentence with it.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello teacher, I understand that we use (there + is ) with a noun and indefinite pronoun.
Is these sentence is right?
1- There is a man waiting for you outside. 2- there is something in the air that night.
3- there are some works to do. 4- there is a beautiful girl at the door.
5- there was someone told me that your are liar.

Hello sdgnour2014,

There are some other errors in those sentences, but the 'there is/are' constructions are fine.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I'm taking a BS Education major in English of Secondary level. My professor, who wants us to learn how to dissect (diagramming) or (The term she use to identifying and naming every word and understanding the function of every phrase and clauses.)

My question is, " which one is important to dissect or to know how and why (appropriately) words are use in the sentences.
Which one is the best way to MASTER ENGLISH GRAMMAR?
Thanks

Hi dencasi,

There is no one best way to learn grammar, because everyone learns differently and has different purposes for learning it. Learning to diagram sentences is an onerous task for most people, but you really can learn a lot about sentence structure from it.

In any case, since I suppose the class is required for your major, I'd encourage you to make the most of it. Once you're finished, you can of course choose to approach grammar as you prefer, though you might want to consider the fact that, at least in my experience, sometimes the tasks that one least likes are the ones the most can be learned from.

Good luck!

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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