- 1 Pronunciation
- 2 Locative
- 3 Presentative
- 4 Existential
- 5 Idiomatic
UK: strong form /ðeə/, There's /ðeəz/, There are /ðerə/
US: strong form /ðɜr/, There's /ðɜrz/, There are /ðɜrər/
NB: identical to the pronunciation of there and they're. This is terribly inefficient and makes learning difficult, but what can you do? That's the way the language is!
Not where the speaker is. The opposite of here.
- (on the telephone) Is Dory there?
Used (only with the second person) when you give someone something:
- There you are.
- There you go. (which can be a very abstract gift indeed if the speaker doesn't hand something to the person while saying it!)
- Thar' you be. (Appalachian English)
In the following patterns: s indicates any plural noun. (i.e. including irregular ones like people, children, data, alumni, etc., ...
- There is an . . . in the fridge.
- There are . . .s in the soup.
- There isn't any . . . in the soup. uncountable nouns
- There isn't an . . . in the toolbox.
- There aren't any . . . s in the freezer. countable nouns
Present Perfect (Simple)
- There has been a change of plans.
- There haven't been any changes here for years.
- There haven't been many calls this morning.
- There was a problem with the file.
- There were mistakes in the file.
- There wasn't any . . . left. uncountable nouns
- There weren't any . . . s in the building. countable nouns
Past Perfect (Simple)
- There hadn't been much interest in the product until the company began to market it more aggressively.
Future and other modalities
The dedicated modal verbs (invariable)
- There will be an . . . next week.
- There will be . . . s later this week.
- There won't be an . . . until next week.
- There won't be . . . s in the room.
- There would be only Queen of England during his lifetime, as it turned out. future in the past
- There would be time to finish, if we didn't have that meeting. irrealis
- There would have been time to finish, if we hadn't had that meeting. counterfactual
- There may be a few things we need to clear up from the last meeting before we start. Let's go over the minutes quickly to see if there are any questions.
- There may not be enough time to walk.
- There may have been some confusion.
- There might not have been any review of the account.
Cf. should, can, could, must...
Other modal verb structures (variable / requiring do-support)
- There used to be a shop where you could buy fancy soap & bath-bubbles here.
- There didn't use to be a charge for kids.
- There has to be a reason.
- There doesn't have to be conflict over this issue.
- There doesn't need to be any change at all!
- There ought to be a bottle of water in the fridge. (Cf. should; prediction)
- There ought to have been a bottle of water in the fridge. (Cf. should; counterfactual, reproach)
- There's got to be a way out.
Notice that certain paraphrastic modals, like be able to, are not used with the There + be structure. want to is also excluded, though the degree to which this grammatical verbal marker (wanna') is a paraphrastic modal is up to debate. It marks the volition of the grammatical subject to engage in the verbal state/action.
Use with the present participle
The present participle does not appear in the matrix existential clause there + be). be +-ing is not entirely incompatible with There + be, but word order is affected in interesting ways:
were waitingthe same four people.
- There were [the same four people waiting].
have been waitingfour people in the waiting room this morning.
- There have been [four people waiting in the waiting room] this morning.
was being intervieweda minister about reform on TV.
- There was [a minister being interviewed about reform] on TV.
- There is
- There is [cleaning being done].
- Is there [cleaning being done]?
One important exception is be going to:
- There's going to be a meeting next week.
- There was going to be a picnic, but the storm led the organizers to cancel it.
- Wasn't there going to be a speaker from Italy this afternoon?
be +-ing is entirely incompatible with the fronted locative structure.
- There came
were comingthree ships...
- There goes
is goingthe bus.
Like the present participle, the past participle generally does not appear in the matrix existential clause (there + be) when it "completes" be. NB: compare to the present and past perfect above!
are finishedfive articles.
- There are [five articles finished].
is leftsome rice in the fridge.
- There is [some rice left in the fridge].
hasn't been donemuch cleaning.
- There hasn't been [much cleaning done].
However, a few passive structures associated with allegations, suppositions, reporting, and epistemic questions *are* common.
- There were said to be a lot of concerns with the new policy.
- There are thought to be as many as 750 people living in the camp.
- There are rumored to have been hundreds of complaints.
- Are there known to be any secondary effects from this medication?
- Are there supposed to be a lot of people there?
- Isn't there supposed to be cleaning being done?
- There, there, don't cry.
There is no there, there. (Gertrude Stein is famous for this sentence about her native Oakland. She said it because the city had changed a lot since her youth. (Her childhood home had been torn down, for example.) Ishmael Reed responded on the there-theriness of his Oakland (§). Later, in the 2016 elections, the "bon-mot" became a veritable mantra of the US media-political class in the context of the many leaks (Podesta, DNC). It has come to be synonymous with "big nothing-burger", which originated in the same quarters. It's not clear if "There is no there, there" was meant to mean "There is no smoking gun, there" or "There is no context there, there in that email dump".
Wikipedians even have a policy by this name -- abbreviated in all capital letters as WP:NOTHERE. It is often cited when blocking people from editing the encyclopedia that anyone can edit. It is generally parsed as "Not here" rather than "No there".
Humorous add-on to demonstrative determiners
From dialectal (non-standard) English, forms a contrastive pair with "here" to indicate proximity or distance. '
- "That there" NOUN vs. "this here" NOUN
- "them there" NOUNs vs. "these here" NOUNs
There ain't no..
American idiom, generally considered lower register.
ain't is a synonym for isn't, though it originally may have been formed from the 1st person singular. amn't is quite hard to pronounce after all...
- There ain't no reason to fret now, we'll have it fixed by morning.