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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



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

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

It is important for them to be there. Does this mean the same as "It is important that they be there", that is, them being there is important, or Does this mean them being there is important to them?
It is unacceptable for them to do that. Does this mean them doing that action is unacceptable, or doing that action is unacceptable to them?

Hello sam61

In general -- in other words, unless the context indicates otherwise -- the sentences would mean the same thing and would indicate the perspective of the person who wrote or spoke them. If you wanted to talk about it being important for 'them', i.e. that those people consider it important, you could say, for example, 'For them, it is important to be there'. But even in this case, I would want to emphasise this with another statement clarifying exactly who it is important for (e.g. 'For the parents of very young children, it is important for them to witness their child's first step.').

I would say the same thing about the second pair of sentences you ask about.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

When we talk about people and there is more than 1 person, and we point them for a first time, is this forms correct?

Look. There are twins over ther!
Look. There are Johnsons!

Hi Iwona_Z,

If you want to point out twins to the person you are speaking to, I'd suggest something like 'Look at those twins over there!' or 'Look at the Johnson twins over there!'

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Please i bit confuse, which of these sentence is correct

Who is there? Is me.
Whose is talking over there? I think is Charles.

Who is there? It's me.
Whose is talking over there? I think it's Charles.


Hello iphie,

The second pair of examples (with 'it') are correct. Verbs in English sentences generally require subjects and the examples of 'it' in those examples are the subjects.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much. I appreciate