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 Sabrina,

The correct answer is 'it rained'. I'm not sure, but I expect the reason your answer was not accepted is that you capitalised the first letter. There is a comma before it, not a full stop, so a capital letter would be incorrect.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hey sir,
i am preparing IELTS examination and my grammatical English not good so sir tell me which topics more focus for examination.

Hello santoshhirve,

I would recommend that you take a look at TakeIELTS. I doubt that you will find a list of all the grammar that you could find on the IELTS - I'm not sure such a list exists for exam takers - but I'm sure you will find useful information there.

Another good resource is our Facebook page. Finally, if you might want to consider taking an IELTS preparation course at a British Council near you.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for these lessons

Hi !
Is this sentence correct ?
It can be hard work to look after young children.

Best wishes,

Hello xusiman,

Yes, that is correct. Good work!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Would it be incorrect this way, " It can be a hard work to look after young children.

Hello Deeps04,

'Work' is generally uncountable and so we would not use 'a' here. The sentence would otherwise be fine:

It can be hard work to look after young children.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

We use a plural verb if the noun phrase is plural:
There were a lot of people shouting and waving.
i have problem why we used 'a' before 'lot of' and a is singular then why we used 'were' ?

Hello flavia,

I can see how that is confusing, but even though grammatically it may appear to refer to one unit, the meaning is considered plural, like 'many'. Since it is used to more than one thing (in the case of count nouns), a plural verb is the correct form.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team