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There-Insertion Existential Constructions

In English, the word "there" can be used to formulate an introductory existential sentence, i.e. when you need to report that something exists:

  • There is a ghost in this house.
  • There lived a man whose name was Tom Keeper.
  • Do you know where there is a good cafe?
  • There is nobody here.
  • There’s more, though.

Formally, in such sentences, "there" is the subject and in the case of an interrogative sentence, auxiliary or modal verb is placed before it:

  • Will there be an English lesson today?

The form of the verb always agrees with the replaced semantic subject:

  • Does there have to be always a reason? (the auxiliary verb "does" is placed before the formal subject "there", but the form of the verb agrees with the substituted semantic subject "a reason")
  • Is there someone who can walk us there?
  • Are there many pretty girls in your village?

If the substituted subject contains a list of objects, then the verb is used in the plural form (more literary version of use) or agrees with the number of the object, called the first in the list (more colloquial version):

  • There are an apple and grapes on the table. ⇔ There is an apple and grapes on the table.

In colloquial English, verb "be" is usually used in shortened form:

  • There's an apple and grapes on the table.

The introductory "there" can be used with non-finite verb forms, forming independent participial phrase:

  • Has Ma ever told you her theory about there being no pure good or evil?[1]

The introductory existential construction with "there" is usually used with verbs naming the existence, emergence, formation, residence and the like:

  • The truth is that there may still come a time when you feel God has given you more than you can handle.[2]
  • This is corroborated by the fact that there occurred no change in body weight although there appeared to be some degree of sodium retention during the time that the patient received aldosterone.[3]
  • "Maybe I have the wrong apartment. Does there live a woman called June in this building?" He asked.[4]

The introductory existential construction with "there" is not used if attention is drawn not to the very fact of the existence of the subject, but to what it is, where it is located, or if attention is drawn to other circumstances associated with the subject:

  • There is a mouse making noise under the floor. ⇒ A mouse is making noise under the floor.

If it is said that something constitutes a thing (includes; consists of something), then usually the construction of the sentence occurs without the introductory "there":

  • There are thirty days in september. ⇔ September has thirty days.
1] Sam Kates. "The Village of Lost Souls".
2] Great Igwe. "Walking Tall In Tough Times: An Everyday Guide For Dealing With Everyday Challenges".
3] G. E. W. Wolstenholme, Margaret P. Cameron. "The Human Adrenal Cortex", Volume 8: Book 2 of Colloquia on Endocrinology // John Wiley & Sons, 2009, 352.
4] Anni Pea. "HAWK" (


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