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.


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.


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


it and there as dummy subjects 1


it and there as dummy subjects 2



Hello, it says:
If we want to show the subject of the to-infinitive we use for:

There was plenty for "us" to read in the apartment
There was nothing for "them" to watch on television.

the question is why we have to use "object pronouns" as the "subject" of to-infinitive?
i know it doesn't make sense if we use object pronouns in that case, but it just made me a bit confused. i would appreciate if you could clarify me.

Hello Malthael,

After a preposition such as 'for' we must have an object, and so an object preposition is used. It does look unusual and in fact it is unusual - it is an example of what is called 'exceptional case-marking'.

You can read more about this here.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, :)
What is the rule for "There are" and "There were"?. I don't know when to use them.

Hello mjmangibin1992,

There may be some exceptions, but in general 'there are' refers to a present time and 'there were' refers to the past or an unreal time (e.g. in a second conditional structure). Both are plural forms -- the singular forms are 'there is' and 'there was' respectively.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,i have a question:
Don’t forget, _____’s your mum’s birthday tomorrow.
Can we use in this sentence both of them?it also there?

Hello rasha94,

No, only 'it's' is correct here. We use 'it' to identify days and dates (like a birthday).

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, sir.
I am having a problem with the use of "there is" and "there are" in the following sentence.
Can u tell me if I should use there is or there are?

a) There is/ are an mango tree and a durian tree in my backyard.

My friend suggests me to write the sentence in following way: A mango tree and a durian tree are in my backyard.

Hi Omyhong,

The most common rule here is to match the verb (is/are) with the first item in any list. For example:

There is a cat in the kitchen. ['a cat' = singular, so we use is]

There are two dogs in the kitchen. ['two dogs' = plural, so we use are]

There is a cat and two dogs in the kitchen. ['a cat' = singular, so we use is]

There are two dogs and a cat in the kitchen. ['two dogs' = plural, so we use are]


However, this is a complex area with many nuances. You can find a discussion of the topic here if you wish to investigate further.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


''There is many of them''

''There is too many of them''

What verb form should we use in these situations? I cannot figure out whether the noun phrase is singular or plural.

Thank you.

Hello MCWSL,

Sometimes in informal speech, people use the singular form 'there is', but really 'there are' is the correct form here, since 'many of them' is plural. 'many' is always plural, since it refers to more than one thing.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team