there/it was (cold)

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yakor

Senior Member
Russian
Hi! Could it sometimes be used instead of "there"? For example,
-When we came into the room, there was cold.(When we came in to the room, it was cold.)
-There was a fine day, and we went to walk on the street. (It was a fine day, and we went to walk on the street.)
 
  • KHS

    Senior Member
    In most cases, I would NOT use "there" in your sentences. It is required. (I'm not sure why you seem to think "there" is the prefered use.)

    I could construct a possible context for "there," but as a general rule, use "it."
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    There were two persons on the street.... It was two persons on the street. (Is there much a difference between them? Is it much a difference for understanding the main point?)
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    "There" is a true 'dummy' subject, and does not stand in for anything:
    There were two people on the street (= two people were on the street.)
    There is a sign on the door (= a sign is on the door.)

    "It" does not work that way, and instead replaces an actual word or concept:
    When we entered the room it was cold (=the room was cold)
    It was a fine day (=The day was a fine day.)
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    Although for that sentence, I could say, "the weather," you're right that "it" does not always replace something that we would typically replace it with. However, with "there," a noun is normally on the other side of the verb, and that noun controls the subject/verb agreement of BE. With "cold," you have an adjective (although "cold" can be a noun, it is an adjective in "It was cold") in that position.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    It is cold today. What does "it" replace in this sentence?
    You would know that through context. If you were lowering yourself into a swimming pool, you would probably mean "the water is cold today." If you were a restaurant manager who was having a conversation with a health inspector about the contents of a refrigerator that had failed an inspection yesterday, you probably mean "the food in the refrigerator is cold today." If you walk out of your house on a July morning and see frost on the grass and say this sentence, you probably mean "the weather is cold today" -- but in each case, you have a definite idea of what "it" may be. The same is not true of "there" when it is used as a dummy subject.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "There" is a true 'dummy' subject, and does not stand in for anything:
    There were two people on the street (= two people were on the street.)
    There is a sign on the door (= a sign is on the door.)
    There is only one "there" in English and it is an adverb (basically demonstrative) with the broad meaning of meaning "At that point/place". As it is an adverb, it cannot serve as a subject, which accounts for
    There is a dog in the garden.
    There are two dogs in the garden.
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    "It" does not work that way, and instead replaces an actual word or concept:
    When we entered the room it was cold (=the room was cold)
    It was a fine day (=The day was a fine day.)
    It was cold, when we entered the room. (it doesn't replace the room. Just the fact that "it was cold in it" or , maybe, we were feeling the cold, possibly the room was warm, but we didn't feel it)

    What is the difference between
    -When he came into the room, it was a big noise.
    -When he came into the room, there was a big noise.
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The difference is that the first one is wrong — unless the pronoun “it” has an antecedent that you haven’t shown. It’s not a dummy it.
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    Hi! Could it sometimes be used instead of "there"? For example,
    -When we came into the room, there was cold.(When we came in to the room, it was cold.)
    It's a question of what they mean, not a question of whether one can replace the other. So, no, "it" cannot replace "there" without changing the meaning. They mean two different things:

    ... there was cold. < Cold existed in the room.

    ... it was cold. < The condition of the room was cold. The room was in a cold state.

    The more likely phrase is "it was cold". However, given some context, I cannot say that "there was cold" is impossible. It would be a question of context and how a speaker views "cold" in a room.

    A note about this clause:

    ... there was cold.

    "There" refers to a location, and that location is "the room". The subject of this clause is "cold".

    ... cold was there.

    ... there was cold.

    The location word "there" sometimes comes at the beginning of the sentence, before the verb, which is where the subject usually or normally goes.
     
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    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    It was cold, when we entered the room. (it doesn't replace the room. Just the fact that "it was cold in it" or , maybe, we were feeling the cold, possibly the room was warm, but we didn't feel it)
    As Steven noted above, there is an understood referent for "it". While you don't want to accept that "it" refers to the room, you must admit that at very least "it" refers to the atmosphere/condition/temperature of the room.
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    As Steven noted above, there is an understood referent for "it". While you don't want to accept that "it" refers to the room, you must admit that at very least "it" refers to the atmosphere/condition/temperature of the room.
    Yes, exactly. That is what I say, as well. "It", then, refers to the condition or the state of the room, in other words.

    What is the difference between
    -When he came into the room, it was a big noise.
    -When he came into the room, there was a big noise.
    The second sentence is correct and makes sense.

    The first sentence does not make sense because "it" has to refer to something.

    And, without context, "it" can only refer to "the room".

    The room is not a big noise.

    So, as an isolated sentence without context, the first sentence does not make sense.

    No one can imagine all possible contexts. Therefore, we cannot say that the first sentence is incorrect. We can only say that it does not make sense -- unless there is a context that causes it to make sense or to justify it.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    There was strong, terrible cold (on the street)
    We would be much more likely to say "There was a strong, terrible [those adjectives are not really idiomatic "cold" is usually qualified by a relative clause or an adjunct] coldness (in the street)."
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Yes, that works.

    We should use "a" indefinite article before "strong", however.
    Yes, when one says "There was a strong cold" the person means that among people (or in the some region, place), there was this illness.
    Using "the cold" OR just "cold"(the intense , dreadful, murderous, piercing cold), one means the low temperature of the air. Why doesn't "cold" in "with cold" have the article "the"? (He was dead with cold)
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    Yes, when one says "There was a strong cold" the person means that among people (or in the some region, place), there was this illness.
    Using "the cold" OR just "cold"(the intense , dreadful, murderous, piercing cold), one means the low temperature of the air. Why doesn't "cold" in "with cold" have the article "the"? (He was dead with cold)
    This is specific cold. It is unique cold, one of a kind. It is the cold that we can expect in that particular situation or place.

    Of course, here, there is no context to tell us what the place, or situation, is. However, that would be the reason to use "the" definite article.

    Are you talking about the room, again, as in the original example sentence? If so, you should provide a complete sentence. Then, it's clear, and we are on the same page.

    :) ;) :idea:
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    This is specific cold. It is unique cold, one of a kind. It is the cold that we can expect in that particular situation or place.
    In the sentence "He is dead with cold" there is not the article "the". But in the sentence "He is dead with the coldness" "the" is present...No specific cold, though...

    Of course, here, there is no context to tell us what the place, or situation, is. However, that would be the reason to use "the" definite article.
    It was winter. We entered the room and as far as the room was unheated there was the cold. Do you mean that?
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    In the sentence "He is dead with cold" there is not the article "the". But in the sentence "He is dead with the coldness" "the" is present...No specific cold, though...


    It was winter. We entered the room and as far as the room was unheated there was the cold. Do you mean that?
    Yes, there is no specific cold, and there is no specific context. Without anything coming before this sentence, or after this sentence, there's no way to know the reason for using "the" definite article.

    In the second example sentence above, there's no need to use "the" definite article. Without context, it's better to say "it was cold".

    This sentence works:

    "Because it was unheated, when we entered the room it was cold."
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The reason is that this is "cold, in general, not any one specific "cold".

    We say "it's cold in the room" just as we say "it's cold outside". This is cold in general, not specific cold.
    But in "it's cold" "cold" is an adjective. While in "with cold" "cold" is a noun. In the sentence "He is dead with cold" there is not the article "the". But in the sentence "He is dead with the coldness" "the" is present...No specific cold, though...
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    "He is dead with the coldness"
    That sentence sounds extremely strange to me.
    But we say about using "cold" as the noun and why there is not the article "the" in "with cold"?
    You are forgetting that there is one, and only one, real rule in English and that it takes precedence over all other "rules" that are taught: We say it this way because this is the way we say it.
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    These questions are related to the original example sentence. However, at this point, it seems that it would be practical to start another thread about using "the" definite article.
    But in "it's cold" "cold" is an adjective. While in "with cold" "cold" is a noun. In the sentence "He is dead with cold" there is not the article "the".

    But in the sentence "He is dead with the coldness" "the" is present...No specific cold, though...
    It's not whether a word is a noun or an adjective that determines whether or not we use "the" definite article. Specificity, recognized in context, tells us whether or not to use "the" definite article. Article use has more to do with context and speaker viewpoint and less to do with rules of structure and grammar. However, articles are part of English grammar and syntax.

    About your second example sentence

    Is that your sentence? Did you decide to put "the" definite article before "coldness"? Where does this come from? There is no context. So we cannot say why "the" definite article is before "coldness" or whether "the" definite article should be before "coldness" in the first place. It's not really reasonable to use this sentence as a comparison to the other sentences in considering whether or not to use "the" definite article.

    It seems that you are trying to find rules or permanent patterns for article use in English. Article use in English, again, has much more to do with context and speaker viewpoint. We can find usual patterns in common contexts for article use. Still, in the end, it comes down to speaker viewpoint in context in consideration of why or why not someone uses an article.

    Note: These questions are related to the original example sentence. However, at this point, it would be a good idea and practical to start another thread about using "the" definite article or about articles in general.
     
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    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The more likely phrase is "it was cold". However, given some context, I cannot say that "there was cold" is impossible. It would be a question of context and how a speaker views "cold" in a room.
    How could one view "cold" in a room, that "There was cold" was possible?
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    How could one view "cold" in a room, that "There was cold" was possible?
    The house is haunted, and, for some inexplicable reason, when they entered the room, they were surrounded by cold.

    When we walked into the room, there was cold all around us. It was the strangest feeling.

    The second clause in the above sentence means this:

    Cold existed in the room, and it surrounded us.
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Cold existed in the room, and it surrounded us.
    Do you mean by the noun "cold" the lack of soul warmth? You felt cold because of the lack of soul warmth among visitors? The nature of this cold in the room is not the low temperature.
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    Do you mean by the noun "cold" the lack of soul warmth? You felt cold because of the lack of soul warmth among visitors? The nature of this cold in the room is not the low temperature.
    No, I did not mean that. However, that's a possibility. Someone could mean that.

    I meant that there was really cold in the room, and it was not possible to explain this. Outside, it was very warm. This is the existence of cold as a supernatural event. That is, more specifically, what I had in mind.

    Consider the novel and the movie The Amityville Horror.

    The Amityville Horror - Wikipedia
    The Amityville Horror is a book by American author Jay Anson, published in September 1977. It is also the basis of a series of films released from 1979 onwards. The book is claimed to be based on the paranormalexperiences of the Lutz family, but has led to controversy and lawsuits over its truthfulness.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Yakor, you seem to have exactly the same problem as the Polish learners of English as in Slavic languages we have one form for 'there is' and 'it is'.

    -There is a projector in the classroom.
    -It is cold in the classroom.

    Both sentences will be translated the same way into Polish and into Russian probably as well. What is more, we will use here no subject at all. So in Polish the sentences will read: "In the classroom is cold" and "In the classroom is a projector"

    You need to know "there is/are" goes with nouns and "it is" goes with adjectives. "There is" goes with physical things that you can, for example, touch. You can touch a projector. So, "There is a projector in the classroom". You can't touch 'cold', so "It is cold in the classroom".
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You need to know "there is/are" goes with nouns and "it is" goes with adjectives. "There is" goes with physical things that you can, for example, touch. You can touch a projector. So, "There is a projector in the classroom". You can't touch 'cold', so "It is cold in the classroom".
    I’m not sure where these ideas come from? The existential there relates to nouns in that it’s used to say that something exists, but it does not have to be something tangible. You can say “there’s a time and a place for everything”, “there are matters we need to discuss”, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”, etc.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I’m not sure where these ideas come from
    Hmm... I think it is good elementary guidance for someone in whose language there is one form for 'there is' and 'it is'.

    Also, there is an adverb and it is a pronoun. (see #9)
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Really? I think it’s misleading. It’s simply not true – is it? – that you can only use “there is” in relation to things you can touch.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    As a starting point in relation to dummy subjects, zaffy's
    "there is/are" goes with nouns and "it is" goes with adjectives
    is quite helpful, I think.
    (I took "things you can touch" as just an illustration.)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    It’s simply not true – is it?
    It seems to me that it would be far more often true than not true, and that is why it would be useful.

    It may be that I am reading it as two separate pieces of advice
    (i)"there is/are" goes with nouns and "it is" goes with adjectives.
    (ii)"There is" goes with physical things that you can, for example, touch.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, admittedly I shouldn’t have included the quote about nouns and adjectives in post #42. I wasn’t arguing with that.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    lingobingo, sure you can say that my pieces of advice are misleading but they do work at an elementary level when students get the basics and they are just helpless with "there is/it is". I've been teaching English for 21 years and you need to somehow believe me. As I said earlier in Slavic languages you have one form for both, plus there is no subject at all. So, we say "In the cellar is a bike" and "In the cellar is dark". So students won't use subjects in those two sentences at all and once you tell them the sentences need subjects, they will ask you but which? 'it' or 'there'?
    So once you ask them to think which of them is a noun and you can touch, they will begin to understand the thing. Then you introduce more difficult examples with abstract nouns that you can't indeed touch like "There are matters...".

    And if you started explaining things with abstract nouns.....the students and you, as a teacher, would be lost. At least that's the way I see it.
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Fine. I believe you. If it works, it works. But you made no mention of the fact that you were a teacher or that you teach the concept that way.
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    I agree with your approach, Zaffy, in that you draw upon knowledge of the learners' first language to help them understand something in English.

    However, there's just one thing I would add in addition to this:

    > So, we say "In the cellar is a bike" and "In the cellar is dark". So students won't use subjects in those two sentences at all ... <

    Those two sentences have subjects. It's just that the word order has been changed in one of them, or it's fronted with a prepositional phrase.

    The subject is "a bike".

    A bike is in the cellar.

    In the cellar is a bike. < different word order

    The subject is not missing in this sentence. The location word "there" is missing. In effect, "there" is not a subject.

    A bike is, there, in the cellar.

    The bike is, there, in the cellar.

    There is a bike in the cellar.

    A bike is in the cellar.

    The word "there" refers to, or points to, a place in the cellar where a bike is located. Or, in other words, the word "there" refers to a location in the cellar. (There's really no such thing as a "dummy subject". Each word in a sentence has a purpose and a meaning.)

    In the second example, the subject is "dark".

    Dark is in the cellar. ([The] Water is in the cellar.) (Monsters are in the cellar.)

    Dark is in the cellar. < This sounds strange because we don't normally think of "dark" as existing independently. Dark is usually or normally a condition or a state. Nonetheless, "dark" is the subject, or, grammatically, "dark" can be a subject.

    It is dark in the cellar.

    "It" refers to the condition or state of the cellar. In this case, "it" is the subject.

    The condition, or state, (it) is dark in the cellar.
     
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