Grammar » B2 Grammar lessons and exercises » There and it – preparatory subjects
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  • There and it – preparatory subjects

    Exercise 1

    Choose the correct form of there and it to complete the sentences below.

    1 's been an hour since I ordered my pizza.

    2 's been a lot of improvement in the quality of our products.

    3 's been hard for him to find a job.

    4 will be a pleasure to have you as a guest here.

    5 's very cold today; 's been snowing all night.

    6 's a police officer at the door; seems that we've been making too much noise.

    7 must have been amazing to be the first person to discover this cave.

    8The fire spread very quickly. must have been something flammable in the house.

    9Why do you get up so early? 's a holiday today.

    10 shouldn't take you too long to finish the report.


  • 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 on 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 a 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 to 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 out how to fix this. 
    • There is no need for you to worry. Everything’s OK.


    It as a 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 from 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 at my house.

    It + be + adjective + that clause

    We also use it as a 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 was 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. 


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