It is important for there to be...

Ramblings

Member
Greece/Greek
Hello! I 've going through some grammar items on an ECCE Practice Test book and I came across this sentence

-" Why are we making so much food Mum?"
-" It's important........enough for everyone"
The correct answer according to the book is " for there to be"

Oh my God! I ' ve never come across such a sentence before!!!
Could somebody pls give some info on it? I can't find anything concerning the above structure!!!
 
  • Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    Kalimera Ramblings,

    You've come up with a difficult question here.
    The simple alternative is "that there is". This is a simple indicative structure.
    When you say "for there to be" it takes on a "subjunctive" feel, making it a bit more "theoretical" and remote.

    This is similar to such sentences as "It is important that you get here on time" or "It is important for you to be here on time."

    Why we use "for" in these structures is not clear to me either. It seems to be a unique facet of the construction "It is important...."
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    [...]
    Oh my God! I ' ve never come across such a sentence before!!!
    Well, I have, but I haven't yet overcome the shock! :D

    I don't think I would ever think of using that version.

    I'm much more familiar with.....
    It is important that there be enough for everyone.

    Could the natives here tell me which is more common (between that there be and for there to be)? Or shall I say "less rare"?

    EDIT: Just to clarify. I'm totally comfortable with "for X to". It's just "for there to be" that troubles me.
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would say "It's important [that] there's enough..."

    "that there be" is less common than ""for there to be". You know how we hate the subjunctive!
     

    Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    Well, LV, I have donned my loincloth, banged on my bongos like a chimpanzee, and come up with the following:
    that there be -- 679,000 hits in Google
    that there is -- 20,600,000 hits
    for there to be -- 482,000 hits.

    I have made no attempt to see how these expressions were used, but there is a clear majority for "that there is."
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "for there to be" would not sound odd to me at all. "That there be" is probably what I would use, but I'm sure I've used "for there to be" many times. :) Neither sound odd to me, but then it has been pointed out in countless threads here that the subjunctive is in greater use in American English than it is in British English.


    "It's important for there to be enough food for everyone."
    "It's important that there be enough food for everyone."

    These both sound fine to me.

    "It's important that there is enough food for everyone."

    This communicates something a little different to me than the other two. There are many, many threads here under "subjunctive" that discuss the perceived difference for AE speakers.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    This "for there to be" still bothers me. But now, I know why.

    As I said, I have no problem with the [for X to + V] structure as long as it doesn't involve "there".
    It is important for you to be here on time
    It is essential for the contract to be signed before Wednesday
    It was crucial for the government to change this law.

    I'm perfectly happy with all of the above.

    All the underlined words are either nouns or pronouns and are the subject of the verbs that follow (be - be signed - change)

    But in the set phrase "there is", there is an adverb, not a noun or a pronoun.
    Using it in the place of 'X' in 'for X to [Verb]' means making it the subject of is, which it can't normally be, not being a noun phrase.

    Considering that all of you natives find nothing wrong with it, it would be extremely daring of me to claim that "for there to be" is a grammatical incorrection but I wish to suggest it might be, at least, a grammatical deviation (or what an astonomer would call an "excursion", if you will).

    I can see what "you", "the contract", "the governement" are. I can see how they can be the subject of what follows. But I fail to see who or what is "there". That's why I find that "for there to be" a bit hard to digest.

    Any ideas from grammarians or others?
     

    Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    This "for there to be" still bothers me. But now, I know why.

    But in the set phrase "there is", there is an adverb, not a noun or a pronoun.
    Using it in the place of 'X' in 'for X to [Verb]' means making it the subject of is, which it can't normally be, not being a noun phrase.
    I do believe, LV, that we had a thread recently in which it was conclusively established that the there in there is and there are "functions" as a noun and is the subject of the verb.

    I shall try to locate the thread and come back with it.
     

    Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    Found it!! Actually we didn't conclusively establish anything. We decided to agree that there is a "thingy," a term suggested by er... um ... Lexiphile. But some authorities claimed it to be a pronoun.

    here's the thread
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi LV4-26

    Just to add to Lexi's point, the Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English puts existential "there" in a grammatical class all of its own, distinguishing it carefully from the place adverb "there".

    Existential "there" can act as the anticipatory subject of the infinitive just as it does with other forms of the verb to be:

    I want there to be snow next Christmas
    I'd like there to be no housework to do when I get home.
    It's important for there to be enough food for everyone.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Existential "there" can act as the anticipatory subject of the infinitive just as it does with other forms of the verb to be:
    Well, if that's the way it is...I'll try and deal with it. :)

    But I still think that to treat "there" as a something-capable-of-doing-things implies a small excursion from the ordinary grammatical path, universally accepted though that excursion may be.

    I do understand that it is different from the adverb of place. Indeed, I find "a thingy" to be an acceptable name, for lack for a better one.

    Many many thanks everyone.
     
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