Level: beginner

English clauses always have a subject:

His father has just retired. > He was a teacher. (NOT Was a teacher.)
I'm waiting for my wife.She is late. (NOT Is late.)

... except for the imperative:

Go away.
Play it again, please.

there

If there is no other subject, we use there to talk about:

  • where or when something is:

There's an interesting book on the shelf.
There'll be an eclipse of the moon tonight.

  • a number or amount:

There is plenty of bread left.
There were twenty people at the meeting.

  • something existing or happening:

There's a small problem.
There was a nasty fight.

it

We use it to talk about:

  • times and dates:              

It's nearly one o'clock.
It's my birthday.

  • the weather:

It's raining.
It's a lovely day.
It was getting cold.

We use it with the verb be and an –ing form or to-infinitive to express opinions:

It's great living here.
It's nice to meet you.

Subjects of sentences

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it and there as dummy subjects 1

MultipleChoice_MTUyNzE=

it and there as dummy subjects 2

GapFillTyping_MTUyNzM=

Comments

Hello Elmar,

It's possible to use 'the' here. The indefinite article is more common, though, since 'there is' is often used to announce an event. If you use 'the', the party has already been mentioned previously in the conversation in some way.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your reply. I already understood given above but yet I not understood this clause:
There is the/a book on the table.
Which article we use in the above clause? "The" or "a"? We not mentioned previously but we know exactly what is book. Example, I know the book is physics book and I say: "There is the book is on the table". This is correct?

Hello Elmar,

Unless you or the people you are speaking to have already specifically mentioned the book on the table, 'a' would probably be the correct article to use here. I say 'probably correct' because it really depends on what your intentions are.

If you use 'the' and it hasn't been mentioned previously in your conversation, it could imply, for example, that you think the other people are ignoring what you see as very obvious, i.e. the book on the table.

Our choice of an article is really about whether we regard a subject as one that has been mentioned or not in our conversation. It can be quite difficult to learn to use them correctly in English but the good news is that if you make a mistake with them, it doesn't usually cause any major problems in terms of comprehension.

I hope this helps you. If you still feel unsure about it, you're welcome to ask again, but I'd also encourage you to pay special attention to how they are used as you read and listen to English. Ask us about uses you don't understand. Over time, I think you'll understand how they are used more of the time. And finally, you might also consider taking a class where you live, as a teacher would be able to help you in person much more effectively.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot, Kirk! I already understood.

Which would be correct? 'It rained' or 'It's rained?'

Hello Urmila,

That really depends on the context. Both of them can be correct in different situations. Our talking about the past page should help you decide which is best for the context you have in mind. But if, after reading through the explanation you're still not sure, feel free to ask us, though please explain the context to us and what you think the correct form is.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks!

Would be wrong to say:
It has been an accident.
Instead of: There has been an accident.

Hello pcultural,

Yes, 'It has been an accident' is not correct. Here you are introducing a new topic (announcing something that has happened) and 'an accident' is a noun phrase. These are two clues that can help you choose 'there' instead of 'it'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Good day, I have a question regarding 'it' pronoun:

It may substantially HELP people to be more productive... OR
It may substantially HELPS people to be more productive...
Which one is correct? Thx.

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