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'it' and 'there' as dummy subjects


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



1- What we call the words "It and There" in Grammar [for example: Pronoun, Adverb or any other parts of speech]?

2- What we call the sentence [type] in Grammar in which "It and There" are used [for example: Introductory Sentence or any other sentence type].

Hello Wiz4it

There are different ways of referring to these kinds of structures, but the one I'm most familiar with is the one used on this page: the idea of sentences with 'dummy subjects' (follow the link to see an explanation on another site). So you could speak of sentences with 'it' as a dummy subject or sentences with 'there' as a dummy subject. As far as I know, 'there' is an adverb in this kind of sentence, and 'it' is a pronoun, though I expect others might say they are both pronouns of a sort.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

'be' in 'there be' is a linking verb or intransitive verb?

Hello goldenmine,

Could you provide us with an example in context, please? If you can give us the whole sentence you have in mind then we'll be happy to try to help, but it's a little difficult analysing the grammar of such a small fragment.



The LearnEnglish Team

Your page helps me a lot. One thing I do not understand is: is "there" a grammatical function (subject, object...) or a structural category (noun, verb, noun phrase...)?

Hello braam,

'There' can have a number of functions in the sentence. It can be an adverb, for example, or an indefinite pronoun.  Do you have a particular example in mind? We'll be happy to identify its use in any particular context.

You can read about the various roles 'there' can play on this page:



The LearnEnglish Team

This site really helps me lot to improve my grammar... And i have framed some sentence... It's raining continuously for four days. & They say there will be continuous rain for next four days. Whether they above are right?

Hello rajesh devendran
I'm very glad to hear that our pages have been helping you improve your grammar! Your second sentence is correct. In the first one, we would use the present perfect continuous tense instead of the present continuous: 'It has been raining continuously for four days.' This is because the rain began in the past and continues in the present.
You can read more about the present perfect on:
All the best
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk,

Would it be correct to say: There were a lot of people there OR There were a lot of people in there.


Hello suresh

Both can be correct. 'there' is more general and 'in there' is more specific in that it refers to an enclosed space. 'there' can also refer to an enclosed space, but since it can refer to others as well, it is not as specific.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team