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,
If below two sentences are right?
There were lots of people shouting and waving
There were lots of rain last night.
thanks,

joyce

according to me, the first sentence is perfect but the second is wrong. I think it mus be "there was lots of rain last night" because RAIN is uncountable noun, so you must use singular verb "was" instead of plural verb "were"

Hi Joyce,

The first sentence is fine.

The second sentence is is not. 'Rain' is uncountable, so we would say 'There was lots of rain'. In the past 'lots' was used only for countable plural nouns, but in modern English it can be used with uncountable nouns too (e.g. 'He has lots of money').

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Team,
Whether following statement has correct use of 'it' or 'there' should be used?

"I did work up to 26th June. Hence, for the month of June it should be 20 working days."

Thanks
Manoj

Hi Manoj,

I'd probably say 'there' if it were me, but 'it' is fine; both 'it' or 'there' make sense here. If you say 'it', presumably the 'it' refers to the sum of 20 days. If you say 'there', 'there' would be communicating the idea that the period talked about includes 20 working days. 

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi.
Can you please tell me which is correct, there is a lots of... or there are a lots of...

Many Thanks
Liza

Hi lizarimmer,

I'm afraid the answer is that neither of these is correct. We cannot say 'a lots of'. We can say 'a lot of' or 'lots of'.

As far as the verb goes and the question of whether it should be singular ('is') or plural ('are'), it depends on the noun which follows the quantifier. We can use 'a lot of' with both countable and uncountable nouns. If the noun is uncountable then we must use a singular verb:

There is a lot of money there. [not are] 

There is lots of sugar in the bowl. [not are]

However, if the noun is plural I would recommend using a plural verb:

There are a lot of people here.

There are lots of words in English.

Some people use a singular verb with the first example, claiming that 'a lot of' is singular, and it is not incorrect to do so. However, to my ear - speaking personally - the plural verb is preferable in terms of style and I would say that it is an easier rule for learners to remember to make sure that the verb matches the noun than to try to remember many alternatives and exceptions.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

Hello Echo W,

Both sentences are grammatically correct. As to the difference, I think you can answer this yourself. We say 'in here' when we are inside a place - a building, for example. The sentence without 'in' is more general and can be used in any situation.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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