You are here

'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



Hi, Sir. could you please explain what is the difference between 'It’s very cold in here' and 'it's very cold here' and also 'is there anybody in here? and 'is there anybody here? and when do I use 'in here' and 'here'?

Hello mohamedfathy,

In general, 'here' is more general than 'in here', since 'in' implies some kind of closed space. For example, if you mean 'in Antarctica', which is a rather large space, then 'It's very cold here' would be better, whereas if you're talking about 'in the kitchen', which is a closed space, then 'It's very cold in here' (maybe it's winter and the window is broken, so it is cold) would probably be more likely.

But sometimes we could say 'in here', we just say 'here', as it's simpler. But if you really want to emphasise a space that is closed in some way, 'in here' is what you should use.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,
Hope you are doing great!

I would like to ask you a doubt to clarify about the question 7 on the task 2, which is:

7. The last time we had a holiday, it rained all the time. (2 words)

My answer was "It rained" and in accordance to the task 1, it's fine. But the feedback of task 2 is showing me it's wrong. So I would like to know why it's wrong.

Thank you very much!

Best Regarsd,

Sabrina Fornazier

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

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' ?