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

Hello Teachers,
I have a sentence here:
"Venezuela does not produce wheat and relies on imports bought in by the government which it then sends to mills where it is ground and then distributed."
There are 2 'it' in this sentence, one refer to 'Venezuela' the other refer to 'wheat'. I wonder is it correct to use 'it' in this way, isn't it seem ambiguous to the reader?
Thank you

Hello Kaisoo93,

I have no problem understanding that sentence, but it might be a good idea to rephrase it so as to eliminate any potential confusion. For example, you could put 'send' in the passive voice, something like '... brought in by the government, which are then sent to mills where it ...' I'd recommend using a comma before 'which', and also note that the verb should be 'brought' (not 'bought').

You could also do a more substantial rephrasing (though I don't think it's necessary) such as: 'Venezuela does not produce wheat and relies on government-acquired imports, which are sent to mills to be ground and distributed.'

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello
Can you please tell me where is the subject and verb in
There is a book

Hello Hope150097,

The subject is 'There' and the verb is 'is'.

The sentence is an example of a 'dummy subject'. You can read more about dummy subjects here and here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi. Is it possible to use the dummy subject 'there' not with the verb 'to be' but with other verbs? Would these sentences be correct:
In the room, there stood a desk.
In the room, there were gathered people.

Hello exvano,

Yes, that is perfectly fine. Putting the prepositional phrase first makes the style quite literary but it is certainly not incorrect.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi All,

Thank you for your help. Your lessons are so useful! :)

Hi Sir,

Can you please explain why we don't have question mark for "where" section? As it seems they are asking question.

Thank you in advance for your help

Hello Bilal Mustafa,

We'd be happy to help you, but could you please tell me which section you mean? I don't see a 'where' section on the page or in the exercises. Have I missed it?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir,

Thank you for your reply. I am talking about this section

" 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."

Regards,
Bilal

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