there + be + noun


Use and meaning

We use there as some kind of preparatory subject to say that something exists somewhere. We put the real subject after the verb be.

  • There are lots of people in the waiting room.  
  • There used to be a fancy restaurant in this street. 


Different tenses

We can use there + be with be in any verb tense, in active or passive voice, and with or without modal verbs.

  • There will be a storm on Saturday. 
  • There has been some tension between the participants. 
  • There must be something wrong here.
  • There’s going to be conflict between the two parties. 


Different structures

We can also use the structures there seem(s) to be, there tend(s) to be or we can use there + be before expressions of probability such as sure, likely, bound, etc.

  • There seem to be no consequences for his actions.
  • Unfortunately, there seems to be no possible solution for the problem.
  • In nature, there tends to be an evolutionary arms race between predator and prey
  • There is sure to be a full house and a great vibe at the festival, so buy your tickets today. 
  • There are likely to be some side effects, but the new drug looks promising. 

We can also use there + used to.

  • There used to be a library at the end of this street.

Note that the negative form is there didn’t use to be.

  • There didn’t use to be any bars in our neighbourhood.


there is no use (in), there is no point (in), there is no need

We often use the expression there is no use/point (in) + -ing and there is no need + to infinitive.

  • There is no point in hating those that hate you. 
  • There is no use in trying to make him understand. He doesn’t want to understand. 
  • Yes, we made a mistake, but there is no need to panic; we’ll find how to fix this. 
  • There is no need for you to worry. Everything’s OK.


it as preparatory subject


Time, weather, temperature, distance


  • It’s 5 o’clock.
  • It’s Saturday tomorrow. 
  • It’s snowing.
  • It’s very hot today; it’s 35 degrees. 
  • It’s only 2 miles to the hotel. 


Something already mentioned

We use it to refer to something that we have already mentioned.

  • ‘What is that?’ ‘It seems like an old piece of metal.’ (it= that)
  • I read a good book last week. It was my second book this month. (it= the book)


it + be + adjective + to + infinitive

We use it + be/seem as a preparatory subject before adjectives + to-infinitive. The infinitive clause is the real subject of the sentence, but we put it at the end because it’s long.

  • It seems impossible to get out of here unharmed. 
  • It’s has been quite hard to go through all the difficulties we have encountered. 
  • It’s nice to hear from you again. 

Note that we also often use it + be + noun + to infinitive.

  • It would be a pleasure to have you in my house.


it + be + adjective + that clause

We also use it as preparatory subject when the real subject of the sentence is a that clause.

  • It’s unlikely that they will ever agree. 
  • It’s surprising that the paramedics could save that woman’s life.
  • It’s just wonderful that we can all be here today. 

Note that we also often use it + be + noun + that clause.

  • It’s a shame that you can’t come.


it takes … to + infinitive

We use this structure to talk about the time we need to do something.

  • It takes me 20 minutes to get to work every day. 
  • How long did it take you to write your essay?


Cleft sentences

We can use it at the beginning of cleft sentences, to emphasise one element of the sentence.

  • It was Peter who took your car. 
  • It’s my laptop that doesn’t work. 
  • It’s in the evening that they arrived. 


there and it


it’s no use/there’s no use

With the word use we can use either there or it as preparatory subjects.

  • It’s no use arguing with your brother. It’s not really his fault. 
  • There’s no use (in) arguing with your brother. It’s not really his fault.