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

We use a plural verb if the noun phrase is plural:
There were a lot of people shouting and waving.
i have problem why we used 'a' before 'lot of' and a is singular then why we used 'were' ?

Hello flavia,

I can see how that is confusing, but even though grammatically it may appear to refer to one unit, the meaning is considered plural, like 'many'. Since it is used to more than one thing (in the case of count nouns), a plural verb is the correct form.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi..
Do we use "It" to describe.. non living things or small insects.. or animals..

Hello learningpro,

Yes, 'it' can be used to talk about a non-living thing or an animal, e.g. a dog, a computer, an airplane. Note that it is singular - if you want to speak about more than one, e.g. dogs, computers or airplanes, then you must use 'they'.

Some people use 'he' or 'she' to talk about animals that they have a relationship with. For example, if you had a dog as a pet, you would probably call it 'he' or 'she'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Why 'in' is used in below sentence, I am unable understand it's logic.
It’s very cold 'in' here.
Please explain.
Masood Khan

Hello Masood Khan,

You can use either 'here' or 'in here' in this sentence. 'Here' describes the place where we are and you can use it in any location - outdoors and inside.

'In here' has the same meaning but is only used when you are in a place - a room, a building etc. You would not use 'in here' if you were outside on the street, for example.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot

Hello there !

Is this sentence semantically correct ?
When I was walking down home,I saw a skeletal,white-faced,child sleeping alone at a corner.

thanks in advance,

The Dungeon

Hello The Dungeon,

There are problems with the sentence - the words 'down' and 'at' don't really fit here.

However, I'm afraid this question is really beyond the scope of this site. We don't provide a checking service for random sentences! If we tried to do this then we'd end up doing little else and proof-reading everyone's writing and homework for them. We're happy to help with how the language works or to explain certain features, but proof-reading is really outside of what the site offers.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi !
Is this sentence correct ?
There used to be a semi-collapsed building in this small yard.

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