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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 rasha94,

No, only 'it's' is correct here. We use 'it' to identify days and dates (like a birthday).

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, sir.
I am having a problem with the use of "there is" and "there are" in the following sentence.
Can u tell me if I should use there is or there are?

a) There is/ are an mango tree and a durian tree in my backyard.

My friend suggests me to write the sentence in following way: A mango tree and a durian tree are in my backyard.

Hi Omyhong,

The most common rule here is to match the verb (is/are) with the first item in any list. For example:

There is a cat in the kitchen. ['a cat' = singular, so we use is]

There are two dogs in the kitchen. ['two dogs' = plural, so we use are]

There is a cat and two dogs in the kitchen. ['a cat' = singular, so we use is]

There are two dogs and a cat in the kitchen. ['two dogs' = plural, so we use are]


However, this is a complex area with many nuances. You can find a discussion of the topic here if you wish to investigate further.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


''There is many of them''

''There is too many of them''

What verb form should we use in these situations? I cannot figure out whether the noun phrase is singular or plural.

Thank you.

Hello MCWSL,

Sometimes in informal speech, people use the singular form 'there is', but really 'there are' is the correct form here, since 'many of them' is plural. 'many' is always plural, since it refers to more than one thing.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


I'd like to ask you something. My teacher told me about the word "live". It doesn't accept the ing-form according to the grammatic. Is it true?

Thank you!

Hello adamjr,

The form 'living' is a perfectly correct form. It is the present participle/gerund form of the verb 'live'.

Your teacher may have been talking about the word 'life', which is a noun and does not have an -ing form.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I love to warm up my English like this.

Sir, Could I use there like- in first sentence
"She was asking you to check if in the bank account, there has been deposited a amount of 10,000 rupees and could I put the parse 'in the bank account' in the end of the sentence as well"
or can it be made like this only-
"She was asking you to check if an amount of 10,000 rupees has been deposited in the bank account" are both right ?

Hello SonuKumar,

In an older style of English, the kind of phrasing that you're asking about (with 'there') was more common, but these days it is so rare that I wouldn't advise using it in the vast majority of situations.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team