How to use ‘There is’ and ‘It is’

‘There is’ and ‘it is’ are really common and useful phrases. In some languages, you can translate both these phrases with just one phrase, so they can be confusing. We show you how to use them in this video lesson and you’ll also learn how to use it and there as dummy subjects in lots of common English expressions.

Click here to see more grammar videos.
Click here to learn when to use an apostrophe with it’s and its.

It is and There is

Argh! Waiter, waiter. There’s a fly in my soup.
Shh. Don’t tell everyone. They’ll want one too.

Today we’re looking at how we use two really common and useful phrases – ‘there is’ and ‘it is’. In some languages, you can translate both these phrases with just one phrase, so they can be confusing. Also, we can use ‘there’ and ‘it’ as dummy subjects in English, so we’ll look at that too.
Let’s start with there is.

Oh no! There’s a hole in my sock!
Waiter. There’s a fly in my soup.

We use ‘there is’ to say something exists and if more than one thing exists, we say ‘there are’.

You know, there are three types of people in the world.
Oh yes?
There are people who can count…
Mmhmm.
And there are people who can’t.
Mmhmm. And?
And what?

So ‘there is’ is singular, and ‘there are’ is plural.

Waiter.
Yes madam.
There’s no soup on the menu today.
That’s right madam. I cleaned all the menus this morning.

When we want to say things don’t exist, we use a negative form. Now of course the word ‘there’ can have another meaning.

Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup. What’s it doing there?
Ooo. It looks like the backstroke.

The backstroke is a style of swimming where you lie on your back, but notice this other ‘there’. It has a different meaning. It tells us the location of the fly. When ‘there’ means a location, it usually comes at the end of a sentence.

So where do you want to eat?
Well, there’s a MacDonald’s over there, or a pub over there.
Let’s make it the pub.
OK.

So ‘there’ can tell us where something is, but that’s not the meaning we’re looking at today. We’re looking at this one, where ‘there’ tell us something exists.
Most English sentences, start with a subject – the person or thing that does the action. For example, I complained to the waiter. ‘I’ am the subject and I do the action. The verb is complain and then we say who or what received the action. That’s a normal way of making an English sentence.
But it’s not the pattern we follow to say something exists. We don’t say ‘A hole is in my sock’ or ‘A fly is in my soup’. We could but it’s not natural. To say something exists, we say ‘there’. So there is a kind of dummy subject here. Dummy means it’s not real. It’s just a copy of a subject.
OK, that’s enough grammar. Let’s look at ‘it is’ now. We use ‘it is’ to refer to something that we already know about.

There’s someone at the door. It… It’s Jay!

This is a typical pattern. We use ‘there is’ the first time we mention something to introduce it, and after that we say ‘it is’. Another example.

OK,great, thank you. Bye. There’s a meeting tomorrow. It starts at two.
Good.

So there and it refer to the same thing – the meeting. There refers forward and it refers back. The same thing happens with plurals, except we say ‘there’ and ‘they’.

Waiter. Waiter. There are two flies in my wine.
Don’t worry madam. They’re very small so I don’t think they drank much.

‘There’ refers forward. ‘They’ refers back. So here’s the thing to remember. ‘There’ introduces a topic. And then ‘it’ or ‘they’ refer back. Easy huh?
OK, now let’s move up a level. Do you remember how ‘there’ works as a kind of dummy subject? It’s the same with ‘it’. ‘It’ is the subject in lots of common expressions. Let’s watch some examples and see if you spot it?

It’s a terrible day, but it’ll be nice by the weekend.
It’s really hot and sunny today. I think it’s 90 degrees

We use ‘it’ as a dummy subject to talk about the weather. So, it’s hot. It’s sunny. It’s raining. And temperatures – so it’s 90 degrees. OK, now some other situations.

Ah.
What’s the matter?
It’s Monday again. I hate Mondays.
Let’s see. It’s the 14th today so let’s meet on the 17th.
What’s the time?
It’s 5 ‘clock. Oh, I can go home!

We use ‘it’ to talk about days, dates and times of the clock.
OK, here are your last examples. See if you can see a pattern here.

Jason, it’s lovely to see you again.
It’s great to be here.
They’re digging up our street. It’s hard to concentrate with all the noise.
It’s very cold in here. Can we put the heating up?
Why? It’s very comfortable.
It’s awful eating here. The waiter’s terrible!
It’s a pity you have to go.
I’ll be back soon.
Bye Jason.
Bye-bye.

So it’s lovely, it’s great, it’s hard, it’s cold, it’s comfortable, it’s awful, it’s a pity. We can use it’s to give our opinion and comment on a situation or place. So you can use ‘it’ as a dummy subject to say what you think about a situation that you’re in.
And that’s it. Oh, that’s another expression with ‘it’. When I say ‘that’s it’, I mean we’ve finished. If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend. And make sure you subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss our future videos. It’s great to have your support! Bye.

Click here to see more grammar videos.
Click here to learn when to use an apostrophe with it’s and its.

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