Technical English II – IT and THERE Explanation

Anna University

Technical English II – IT and THERE Explanation

Lecture Notes


As the dummy subjects it and there both correspond to ’det’ in Norwegian, learners frequently confuse the two. There is a tendency to overuse it. The uses if it and there are summarized below.


Locative there (an adverb denoting position or direction):

I want to go there on holiday.

Existential there (a dummy subject in clauses of existence and appearance):

There are two patients in the waiting room

Referential it (personal pronoun referring to something mentioned earlier):

She bought a book and gave it to her sister

Anticipatory it (filling in for a subordinate clause later in the sentence):

It seems that we have made a mistake

Empty it (subject in clauses about weather, temperature, time, distance):

It’s raining / it’s half past nine / it’s two miles from here

Cleft it (subject in cleft constructions):

It was Paul who won the race / it was yesterday Paulwon the race

* We use there is/ there are where det finnes/ det eksisterer would be a possible Norwegian translation (existential there):

There is no place like home

There is a man in the hall

There are two men outside

* We use there is/ there are when we introduce a new topic (existential there):

There is something I want to talk to you about. Oh, I wonder what it is

* It is used as a formal/ dummy subject when the real subject is an infinitive clause, an –ing clause or a that-clause. These clauses can replace it without change of meaning (anticipatory it):

It is easy to see why he left

It was nice seeing you again

It is true that he left her

(That he left her is true)

* It is used for expressions of time, date, distance, weather, temperature, prices etc. (empty it)

It is late /cold

How far is it to Oslo?

It is six years since I left town

It costs 5£

* It is used in substitution for a noun (referential it):

What is that? It is a calendar

There’s somebody at the door. Who is it?

* It is used to put special emphasis to a word (cleft it):

It was Tom who did it, not I

* It is + adjective / there is + noun:

It was very wet There was a lot of rain

Will it be dangerous? Will there be much danger?

It is logical to say so There is no logic in what you say

It is time to go to bed now (empty it)

It is a long way to Bodø

There is time for another cup of tea (existential there)

There is still a long way to go