Level: elementary

We use prepositions to show how far things are:

Birmingham is 250 kilometres from London.
Birmingham is 250 kilometres away from London.
It is 250 kilometres from Birmingham to London.

Sometimes we use an adverbial of distance at the end of a clause:

We were in London. Birmingham was 250 kilometres away.
Birmingham was 250 kilometres off.
London and Birmingham are 250 kilometres apart.

Adverbials of distance 1


Adverbials of distance 2




Hi ,
Why in this clause we use : '' IT IS 250 kilometres from Birmingham to London '' instead ( because ''250 kilometres'' means much more than one kilometre , is plural ) '' THERE ARE 250 kilometres......'' ? ( ''there are'' or another form of plural ).
Thank you very much for your answer

Hi Last biker,

This is an example of what we call a dummy subject. The word 'it' does not actually refer to anything in particular, but rather means something like It is true that or The fact is that. We can use a plural noun after this and it is quite common. We often use it when talking about distance and time, but also in other contexts:

It was many years since I had last seen him.

It is fifteen kilometres to the town from here.

It is the pictures that remind me of her.

It was several meetings before we reached agreement.


You can read a little more about this topic here.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi "The Learn English Team", I'd like to ask you about the answer to a question inquiring the distance from a place to another one.
Here I go; A ask to B: "How far Amsterdam is from Paris?" B's answer: "It is 520 km away".
I'm not a hundred per cent sure, but I think that answer is correct.
Now my question: Could it be correct if B's answer should had been as follows: "It's 520."

Thanks in advance for your time,
José Estrella.

Hi José,

Yes, the first answer is correct. 'It's 520' is not grammatically wrong, but it would be unusual unless B was repeating the distance after hearing A misunderstand it (e.g. A: How far is Amsterdam from Paris? B: It's 520 km away. A: 920 km away?! B: No, it's 520').

Otherwise, B should at least say 'kilometres' and really the most natural short answer would be just '520 kilometres' (without the subject and verb).

Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,

Thanks so much for your time!
Your explanation of the topic is careful and accurate and yes, it does make sense to me.

Wishing you a Fruitful and Nice Day,

Hello The LearnEnglish Team,
I'm confused about question 3: "From Gibraltar the African coast is visible only 14 miles away." I guess there are some words omitted from this sentence. Could you please explain its meaning to me?

Hello Delta,

I don't think there are any words missing there though you could say that there is a reduced relative clause:

From Gibraltar the African coast, which is only 14 miles away, is visible.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello dear team,
You said:
Why do we use adverbials?
We use adverbs to give more information about "the verb".
But from your example above :
You said:
Birmingham is 250 kilometres from London.
Birmingham is 250 kilometres away from London.
It is 250 kilometres from Birmingham to London.
My question is:
where the verb from those examples???

Hello fahri,

Adverbials are used in a number of ways and to given information about the verb is only one of these. For example, we can use an adverb to make an adjective stronger, such as 'very' or 'really'. You cannot reduce the role of adverbials in the this way - that is why we have a whole section on the topic.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi all
May I know the function of '250 kilometers' in the sentence above . Away, from, awsy from and Off are the adverbials of distance indicated above. 250 kilometers follows a linking verb , 'is and was.' Does it complenent the subject as an adjective?
Or is it adverbial of place? Every word has a role in a sentence. The more one is able to identify the role of a word ,element clause the better ones knowledge in English grammar. That is what I want to know.