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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



Hello Peter,

Correct me if this sentence is right "It has been excited moment that we visited to our village had fun a lot" I am not sure that the word "It has been" used is correct.

Hi Khadhar,

It's difficult to give a good answer without knowing more about the situation or what you mean, but yes, since it sounds like this is a finished past event, it should probably be 'It was an exciting moment when we visited our village. It was a lot of fun'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir,
I want to know which of the following two sentences is correct:
Water is very important thing that we can't be alive without it.
Water is very important thing that we cannot be alive without.
Is * it* necesssry or not at the end?

Hi hawa100,

The first sentence is not correct, i.e. the sentence without 'it' at the end is the correct one. This is because the object of 'without' is 'that' and if you put 'it' at the end, it is repeated, which causes confusion.

By the way, I would recommend using 'a' before 'very important thing'. It would also sound more natural to say 'we cannot live without' at the end.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Now I am learning about It and there (pronoun), and there is one exercise:
Don’t forget, _____’s your mum’s birthday tomorrow.
=> I chose "there", but It was wrong.
Could you please explain to me why we use "it"

Hi Van Hua,

'your mum's birthday' is like a date, which is why 'is' is correct here. It might help to think that in sentences with dummy subjects, 'it' usually identifies something and 'there' says that something exists.

Hope that helps!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

There are four employee for SEO in the Company.
There are Niteesh to assist you regarding Web Services.
is it ok?

Hello Niteesh,


The best way to say this depends on who is speaking.

If someone else (not Niteesh) is saying it:

There are four employee dealing with SEO in the Company. Niteesh will assist you with Web Services.


If Niteesh is speaking:

There are four employee dealing with SEO in the Company. My name is Niteesh and I will assist you with Web Services.



The LearnEnglish Team

Which is correct,
If you’re hungry, there is some lasagne in the fridge.
If you’re hungry, there are some lasagne in the fridge.

Hello appu,

Why don't you tell us what you think the answer is and why this is the case, and we'll be happy to tell you if you are right or not. Trying to work it out for yourself is a much more effective way to learn.



The LearnEnglish Team