There is nothing to worry about [there?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by jexrry_nam, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. jexrry_nam

    jexrry_nam Senior Member

    Hong kong
    Hi everyone..

    I'm kind of confused with the word "there"

    For instance; <There is nothing to worry about.>

    Is "there" being a subject in this example?

    Could anyone tell me when to use there in the front of a sentence?

  2. boozer Senior Member

    No, this is the existential 'there is/are'. You use 'there is/are' when you want to say that something exists somewhere. And it is not the subject of the sentence.
  3. jexrry_nam

    jexrry_nam Senior Member

    Hong kong
    Hi Boozer,

    It seems existential doesn't work in the example I give above.

    "Nothing to worry about" isn't even a thing. It's just a feeling.
  4. dn88 Senior Member

    "There" stands in the subject position. I think it can be called a dummy/impersonal/expletive subject. It's not a real subject. It's there just to start the sentence off.
  5. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    In some languages there are two forms of the verb "to be" - (i) "to be in a state of something [often abstract]" and (ii) "to exist [as]" or "to possess the attribute(s) of" or "to live". In English there is really only one. Compare:

    (i) He is happy - This is temporary or subjective. We cannot say, "There is happy." We can say, "He is in a state of being happy." This form takes an adjectival complement.
    (ii) "He is a happy person" - this is a permanent or objective state; we can say, "There is a happy person." We could say, "He exists as/possesses the attributes of a happy person." This form takes a noun complement.
    (ii)(a) "Tigers are in the jungle" - this is a permanent or objective state; we can say, "Tigers live/exist in the jungle." or "There are tigers in the jungle."
  6. boozer Senior Member

    There does, indeed, stand in subject position but it is not the sentence subject. How one treats it is another story. I am quite happy to call 'it' a dummy subject, but at least 'it' is a noun. 'There' is not even that so I myself do not see it as a dummy subject.

    My feeling is altogether different, Jexxry. :) Nothing is a noun, pure and simple. Yes, it denotes... errrm, nothingness, but the opposite of a thing, i.e. nothing, must also be a thing and, therefore, the actual sentence subject. :)

    I know it sounds silly but try to see it that way if you can... :)
  7. dn88 Senior Member

    "it" is a pronoun, and so is "there". I agree that "it is" is different from "there is", but is it different enough not to be called a "dummy subject"?
  8. boozer Senior Member

    'It' has substance insofar as it can replace any noun, material or otherwise. 'There' has no substance for me, which is the reason why I cannot call it a 'dummy subject'. I suppose it boils down to personal preference. If it doesn't, I still have mine. :D For me the actual subject of each sentence containing the existential 'there' is the noun that exists, not the 'there'.
  9. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Hullo, boo.

    I understand your perplexity — and I share it with you.
    In my opinion, this discussion, centered upon the "status" of "existential there", could take advantage of a distinction between "logical subject" and "grammatical subject".
    From a logical standpont it'd be hard to deny you're right; from a grammatical point of view, on the other hand, there's a long tradition of grammatical descriptions of English where this same "there" is considered the subject of the existential sentence: a not so trivial corollary of this is that in tag-questions — as in interrogatives, etc. — "there" works as a full-blown subject (There's someone at the door, isn't there?"). The Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture uses the grammatical label "pronoun" in its definition of the word.

    Best. :)

  10. boozer Senior Member

    If I had to dig deeper, I would venture that there was an indicative pronoun of location acting as an adverb within the sentence. Compare:
    There is a chair.
    A chair is there. (Where?)

    The first sentence probably used to mean the same as the second until 'there' partly lost its initial meaning. In the first sentence it simply introduces the sentence subject.

    Which, by the way, is also what Cambridge says:
    there - adverb (introducing subject)

    I do not remember what others say, it's been a long time since I last dug into this subject and it never interested me particularly :), but I agree with Cambridge. (Though my disagreement would probably have left them unimpressed anyway :D )

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