November 24th, 2009 in English Grammar, English Learning, ESL, Improve English
The structure there + to be is very commonly used to say that something exists. There is normally an adverb of place. But the introductory there does not have any adverbial sense and is merely used to introduce the sentence.
There are many stars in the sky.
This sentence can also be written as ‘Many stars are in the sky’.
But normally the form with there is preferred, though the real subject is many stars.
There is some water in the bottle. (More natural than Water is in the bottle.)
There is a hole in my socks. (More natural than A hole is in my socks.)
There is a bridge over the river.
There were few very accidents last year.
There is no way out.
There have been many such incidents.
There are some people waiting outside.
There is something wrong with him.
There is no point in talking about it again.
There is no going back on it.
There is no denying the fact that she stole the money.
Note that we use there are with plural subjects and there is with singular subjects. However, in informal speech there is is also common before plural subjects.
There is some grapes in the fridge. (Informal)
There are some grapes in the fridge. (Formal)
There can be used in this way with all the tenses of be.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess.
There will be somebody at home.
There has never been anybody like you.
After there is, the structure no + gerund can be used to indicate impossibility.
There is no knowing what she did with the money. = It is impossible to know what she did with the money.
There is no denying the fact that she stole the money. = It is impossible to deny the fact that she stole the money.
There is no knowing what will happen. = It is impossible to know what will happen.
Note that the expressions ‘There is no question of denying the fact …’, ‘There is no question of satisfying …’ etc., are incorrect in standard English and should be avoided.
The introductory there can also be used with intransitive verbs.
There came a knock at the door.
There seems to be a problem.
There happened to be no one near by to help her.
There grew a warm relationship between them.
Note that we do not normally use there in sentences with a definite subject (e.g. a noun with a definite article or a proper name).
Alice was at the club. (NOT There was Alice at the club.)
The boy was playing with his toys. (NOT There was the boy playing with his toys.)