'It' and 'There'Download this explanation in PDF here.
Try an exercise about 'it' and 'there' here.
English sentences must have a subject (except for imperative sentences). So, if we don't have any other subject, we can use 'there' or 'it'. This is sometimes called a 'dummy subject' or an 'empty subject'.
'There' has two meanings. Its first meaning is an adverb of place. It's like 'here', except further away.
- The book is there! (= The book is in that place.)
- There's a book on the table. (= A book is on the table. / A book exists on the table.)
- There's a coffee shop next to the station.
- There was a boy in the car.
- There was an old man in the restaurant.
- There might be cake at the party.
- There's been an accident.
- There wouldn't have been a problem if you had called me.
- There'll be a lot to do, won't there?
- There isn't a cat in the garden, is there?
- There's two houses on that street. (Informal.)
- There are two houses on that street. (Formal / traditionally correct.)
- There's a shop on that road.
There's the shop on that road.
- There's the book I was looking for! (=In that place is the book I was looking for.)
- There's Lucy. (=Lucy is in that place.)
- There's the restaurant on the hill or the restaurant by the station. Where would you prefer to eat?
- There seems to be a problem.
- There happens to be a red car outside.
- There tends to be a lot of rain in October.
- There was plenty of food.
- There were a hundred people at the party.
- There was lots to see.
- There was plenty to eat.
- There was nothing to do.
- There was nothing for us to do.
- There was plenty for the guests to eat.
- Out of the darkness, there rode a knight, mounted on a fine horse.
We also use 'it' as a dummy subject. 'It' tends to be followed by an adjective rather than a noun phrase.
'It' is used with 'be' + adj + to + infinitive.
- It's nice to be here.
- It's lovely to have time to relax.
- It's nice being here.
- It's lovely having time to relax.
- It's two o'clock.
- It's Wednesday.
- It's the 22nd.
- It's Christmas day.
- It's cold.
- It's raining.
- It's very warm today.
- It's getting dark.
- It's too bright in here.
- It's three miles to Lucy's house.
- Hello! It's me!
- It's the postman at the door.
- Who's that woman over there? It's Elizabeth, the new boss.
- It takes two hours to get to London.
- It looks as if we are going to be late.
- It seems as though we might need some more money.
- It is said that ...
- It is believed that ...
- It is understood that ...
- It is thought that ...
- It must be noted that ...
- It was John who cleaned the flat.
- It was ten years ago that I studied Japanese.