there/it was (cold)

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  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    So where is the bike located in the cellar, Steven? Behind a bag of potatoes or next to grandpa's old saxophone?
    a location in the cellar
    a location that is in the cellar -> an example of such a location; any location in the cellar; the location where it is, etc.

    "There" cannot be a subject - even a dummy one.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Steven David

    When I'm teaching those two structures, I usually write up:

    ...... is a bike in the cellar.
    ...... is cold in the cellar.

    And then I ask the students "Right, what is missing? I think the answer is pretty clear that it is the subjects that are missing. 'There', as I know, doesn't show the location. It works as a subject. If you wanted to point the location, you would add another 'there' and say "There was a bike over there", wouldn't you?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I think the answer is pretty clear that it is the subjects that are missing.
    You need to analyse the sentence properly. How can an adverb be a subject?
    If you wanted to point the location, you would say "There was a bike over there", wouldn't you?
    Your reasoning is faulty:

    From the OED:
    Grammatically, there is no difference between “There comes the train!” and “There comes a time when, etc.”; but, while in the former there is demonstrative and stressed, in the latter it has been reduced to a mere anticipative element occupying the place of the subject which comes later.
     
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    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Strictly speaking an adverb can't be a subject. However, I guess I once came across a grammar book, explaining that 'there' in the 'there is/are' structure, takes the role of the subject.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    One website explains it like this, complete with quote:

    Existential there, also known as nonreferential there, is entirely different from there used as a place adverb: "It has no locative meaning, as can be seen by the contrast: There's a sheep over there. Also, existential there carries no emphasis at all, whereas the adverb does: There he is" (Rediscover Grammar, 2003).
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    lingobingo, sure you can say that my pieces of advice are misleading but they do work at an elementary level
    I think my question is not about how to use "there is" and "it is" in common sense and the difference between them.
    We speak about "cold", when it is used as noun.
    There was cold in the room. "Cold" is the noun here, isn't it? Or not?
    It was a fine day. "a fine day" is the subject, not an adjectival, but nevertheless we use "it was" In many case we say "It is a\the (noun). No adjectives here.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Yakor
    'It was a fine day' has nothing to do with 'It was cold on that day'.

    You need to analyse the sentence properly. How can an adverb be a subject?
    OK, I 've found the source, Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, Oxford. They call it a "preparatory subject" :)
     

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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    All sorts of things can be subjects, Paul;).
    Really, Loob? Do you have examples?
    If you wanted to point the location, you would say "There was a bike over there", wouldn't you?
    Your reasoning is faulty:

    From the OED:
    Grammatically, there is no difference between “There comes the train!” and “There comes a time when, etc.”; but, while in the former there is demonstrative and stressed, in the latter it has been reduced to a mere anticipative element occupying the place of the subject which comes later.

    Although there can be a noun meaning “that place [yonder]” (He left there last night.) This is not the case in “There is a bike in the cellar.”

    [Multiple examples removed in order to comply with Rule 4: Minor fair use excerpts (one or two) from dictionaries are permitted. DonnyB - moderator]

    OK, I 've found the source, Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, Oxford. They call it a "preparatory subject" :)
    Who are "they" and what evidence do they have? The idea of calling it a "preparatory subject" is a gross over-simplification and whereas, like your guidance above, may help the learner, at a higher level, it cannot be sustained. Just because it looks like a subject does not mean that it is a subject.

    It is wrong as it makes no sense, and further it is not justified, merely stated - "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." (Hitchen's Razor)

    Note the reasoning and evidence in the OED. :)
     
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    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    OK, I 've found the source, Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, Oxford. They call it a "preparatory subject" :)

    I know what you mean, Zaffy.

    I understand where you are coming from.

    I have a copy of Practical English Usage, as well.

    ;) :) :)

    Many things are subject to change. And, one day, the analysis of "there" and "it" that I posted will be reflected in reference books, as well.

    ________

    In the cellar is a bike.

    A bike is in the cellar.

    This shows that English is not always, 100% of the time, SVO or Subject Verb Complement (anything that follows the verb).

    A bike is in the cellar.
    In the cellar is a bike.

    There is a bike in the cellar.
    A bike is, there, in the cellar.

    The subject is "a bike" in the four sentences above. With the last two sentences, the only thing that changes is the word order. The subject remains the same.
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    It is worth noting that the position of adverbs in a sentence is very fluid:

    He went to the door quickly.
    Quickly
    , he went to the door.
    He went quickly to the door.

    The same occurs with "there".
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Yakor
    'It was a fine day' has nothing to do with 'It was cold on that day'.
    I say the same, it has nothing to do. "It" is used not only with adjectives, but not less often with nouns.

    So where is the bike located in the cellar, Steven? Behind a bag of potatoes or next to grandpa's old saxophone?
    Somewhere there in the seller, isn't it clear?))):)

    Steven David

    When I'm teaching those two structures, I usually write up:

    ...... is a bike in the cellar.
    ...... is cold in the cellar.

    And then I ask the students "Right, what is missing? I think the answer is pretty clear that it is the subjects that are missing. 'There', as I know, doesn't show the location. It works as a subject. If you wanted to point the location, you would add another 'there' and say "There was a bike over there", wouldn't you?
    There is a bike in the cellar. "there" is an adverb here not the subject. The subject is a "bike"(in Russian too). The location is clear pointed in this case.
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    Steven David

    When I'm teaching those two structures, I usually write up:

    ...... is a bike in the cellar.
    ...... is cold in the cellar.

    'There', as I know, doesn't show the location. It works as a subject. If you wanted to point the location, you would add another 'there' and say "There was a bike over there", wouldn't you?
    "There", as I know it, is a location.

    There was a bike over there.<

    Yes, of course, anyone could say this.

    "There" is a location within the area referred to as "over there". This could be read as redundant, but it's not incorrect.

    "A bike" is still the subject, however.

    A bike was there.
    A bike was over there.

    There was a bike.
    Where?
    Over there.
    Where?
    There. It was right there.
    I didn't see it.
    A bike was there -- right over there.
    Are you sure?
    Yes, there was a bike right over there.

    The only thing that changes is the word order. "A bike" is the subject.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Count me in on the side of zaffy and Swan:).

    Yakor, could you just repeat your question?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I’m not sure that zaffy and Swan entirely agree? Zaffy seems to be saying the “there” indicates location.

    Swan describes the existential there as acting as a preparatory subject, with the “real” subject coming after the verb. But presumably by that he means the real-life subject (the actual thing being discussed), rather than the grammatical subject of the verb?

    These differences apply according to whether the “thing” or the existential there is the grammatical subject of the verb:


    The bike is in the cellar :tick: Is it? No it isn’t!
    A bike is in the cellar :thumbsdown: Is it? No it isn’t!
    There is a bike in the cellar :thumbsup: Is there? No there isn’t!
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    Steven David

    When I'm teaching those two structures, I usually write up:

    ...... is a bike in the cellar.
    ...... is cold in the cellar.

    And then I ask the students "Right, what is missing? I think the answer is pretty clear that it is the subjects that are missing. 'There', as I know, doesn't show the location. It works as a subject. If you wanted to point the location, you would add another 'there' and say "There was a bike over there", wouldn't you?
    ...... is a bike in the cellar.

    There is a bike in the cellar.

    A bike is, there, in the cellar.

    The first sentence is fronted with the location word "there". This, of course, is a common occurrence with both "there" and "here". "A bike" is the subject in both sentences.

    The speaker uses "there" because, in context, the speaker perceives or infers that this has to do with the existence and location of a bike in the cellar. It doesn't have to do with identifying a bike in the cellar. This is why "It is a bike in the cellar" does not sound good and is not correct.

    ______

    ...... is cold in the cellar.

    It is cold in the cellar.

    There is cold in the cellar.

    Both sentences are correct. The first one, with "it", is more likely and usual given what speaker viewpoint would be in context. However, the correct one depends on context and speaker viewpoint in context.

    What does the speaker mean to say?

    Does the speaker mean to speak of the condition or the state of the cellar? If so, then "it" is the subject and goes in the space at the beginning of the sentence.

    Or does the speaker mean to say that cold exists in the cellar? If so, then the sentence is fronted with the location word "there", in which case "cold" is the subject of the sentence. (There is no such thing as a "dummy subject". Each word in a sentence has a purpose and a meaning.)
     
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    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    To be honest, I just can't imagine the second sentence being considered correct in any exam. :)

    It does not conform to normal and usual speaker viewpoints in common contexts. In other words, we do not usually speak of cold existing in a room. We usually speak of the state or the condition of a room as being cold. In this sense, yes, it is a very unlikely sentence. However, from a structural standpoint, it's not incorrect, at least, not technically incorrect. Given that this is not what a speaker would usually want to say in context, I would call it lexically incorrect. In other words, a speaker, an English language learner, would choose the wrong word to use.

    :)

    So, again, yes, we do not usually speak of cold existing in a room. However, it's not impossible. I posted a sentence with "there was cold" earlier in this thread: viewpoint in context. Co-text, as well, counts and is as equally important as context.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish/AE
    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.)
    Simply put, it and there represent different syntactic phenomena.

    It appears in particular contexts; for example,:
    (a) as subject of "weather" verbs: it's raining, it snows in winter. And so we say it was cold because "cold" is a weather-related concept. We use it as subject because a basic rule of English is that all verbs must have a subject. Accordingly, "is cold" is ungrammatical.

    (b) introduced by extraposition. English, generally speaking, doesn't like long phrases at the start of sentences. So, instead of saying "That she likes football is obvious," we switch the sentence around and add "it" as subject of auxiliary "is:" It's obvious that she likes football.

    (c) extraposition related to the verb "seems." Seems is a peculiar verb. It rejects clauses as subject, but accepts "it." So, instead of saying "That she like football seems," we turn things around, add "it," and say It seems that she likes football.

    (d) to represent "distance:" it's a long way home; it's about 20 miles to the beach.

    (e) to represent "time:" it's noon; it's half past midnight.

    (f) to represent anaphora: I bought a car today. It came with one door (it = car).

    (g) as subject in idioms. It is ok.

    These are "dummy it," the pronoun has no meaning, except in (f), where "it" means "car" by anaphora.

    There follows its own syntactic path, known as there insertion. Basically, for greater focus/emphasis, there is added to an already-existing sentence that has auxiliary "be." This there insertion requires a transformation of the original sentence. More precisely, the subject and auxiliary "be" switch places ("inversion"), and there is inserted as the "new" subject. This can refer to "existence" (i.e., "existential there"):

    A man is at the door ~ There is a man at the door
    Three pigs are dancing ~ There are three pigs dancing


    or to a perceived "change:"

    A growing sense of fear is spreading in the country ~ There is a growing sense of fear spreading in the country
    (change, from "no fear" to "growing fear")

    This "there" is a dummy subject; it has no meaning, and is added because transformation/inversion requires a dummy subject at the front of the sentence. Sometimes there is no inversion, and there plus auxiliary "be" is added, also for emphasis/focus, and to add grammatical tense:

    A growing sense of fear ~ There is a growing sense of fear

    Notice that (1) while there insertion adds greater focus/emphasis, "there" itself isn't stressed; (2) this "there" is not the same as locative "there." In fact, you can have both types of "there:"

    Three pigs are dancing over there ~ There are three pigs dancing over there
    The first "there" is dummy there, introduced by there insertion; the second "there" is the locative pronoun (pointing to a "location/place").

    There are some restrictions to there insertion. For example, this doesn't work with transitive verbs:

    We saw three pigs dancing ~ There saw we three pigs dancing :cross:

    Back to your question: we say It was cold and It was a fine day because "cold" and "fine day" are weather-related. To me, There was cold in the room sounds distinctly odd, because weather-related phenomena takes "it" as subject (It was cold in the room). However, There was coldness in the room is perfectly fine (in my usage), particularly because this is a metaphor referring to a lack of human warmth: There was coldness in her eyes. By contrast, "cold" refers to atmospheric conditions: It was cold in the room.
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    [This post and the following ones have been added to a previous thread as they're essentially a continuation of the same discussion. DonnyB - moderator].
    Is it possible to say in some meaning
    -There was cold in that house, that we couldn't explain. (we couldn't explain this cold, the temperature in this house was high enough to feel cold)
     
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    SwissPete

    Senior Member
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    Cold as a noun in this context sounds odd.

    There was coldness may work, but it would not necessarily mean 'low temperature'.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish/AE
    Is it possible to say in some meaning
    -There was cold in that house, that we couldn't explain. (we couldn't explain this cold, the temperature in this house was high enough to feel cold)
    With atmospheric conditions (i.e. "temperature," "weather"), English uses "it" as subject (known by some as "ambient it"): It was cold in that house. And then you can't use "that," because "that" can't appear in non-restrictive relative clauses; thus: It was cold in that house, which we couldn't explain.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think you might be thinking of the noun 'chill'? There was a chill in the house. That could make sense.

    If not, I think you need to explain more clearly what you mean by 'cold'. Maybe try another sentence.
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    With atmospheric conditions (i.e. "temperature," "weather"), English uses "it" as subject (known by some as "ambient it"): It was cold in that house. And then you can't use "that," because "that" can't appear in non-restrictive relative clauses; thus: It was cold in that house, which we couldn't explain.
    It seems that you didn't read my question(( I don't mean "low temperature" around.
    Also, I don't get what you mean by "non-restrictive relative clause" and why you couldn't use "that" in It was cold in that house, which/that we couldn't explain.
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I think you might be thinking of the noun 'chill'? There was a chill in the house. That could make sense.

    If not, I think you need to explain more clearly what you mean by 'cold'. Maybe try another sentence.
    Yes, I might.
    I just wanted to know if one could use "cold" as the noun in the sense of "chill", for example. If no, then no.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I've just found this sentence online: Yes, she's just come off steroids and I think that was due to the cold in the house.

    So it can occasionally be used as a noun. But we'd never say 'There was a cold in the house'.
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    So it can occasionally be used as a noun. But we'd never say 'There was a cold in the house'.
    "a cold" is illness. But I asked about "the cold" and just "cold". I would not ask about "'There was a cold in the house'. (though if all the residents of the house would get a cold at the same time at once, one, possibly, could say "The was a cold in the house"
    ----------------------
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    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.
    I agree "there" is an adverb in these case. Possibly, "dummy adverb".
    What does mean "with the broad meaning of meaning"?
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    There is a dog in the garden.
    There are two dogs in the garden.

    A dog is in the garden.
    Two dogs are in the garden.

    A dog is, there, in the garden.
    Two dogs are, there, in the garden.

    "There" refers to "in the garden". "There" is location. And this makes "there" a pronoun.

    When we entered the room, it was cold in it.
    I have not an idea of what "it" may be.

    "It" refers to the condition, the temperature, or the climate in the room. "It" could also be any other word that can reference the condition in the room, which is cold.

    "It" is not a "dummy subject" and not a "dummy pronoun".
     

    grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    "It" refers to the condition, the temperature, or the climate in the room. "It" could also be any other word that can reference the condition in the room, which is cold.
    When we entered the room, the temperature was cold in it. :confused:
    When we entered the room, the climate was cold in it. :confused:
    When we entered the room, the condition was cold in it. :confused:
    I mean is it possible to consider "When he came into the room" as "it" in "When he came into the room, it was a big noise."? That is,
    it=When he came into the room
    No, sorry but that's impossible.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    What does mean "with the broad meaning of meaning"?
    It means I should have written with the broad meaning of meaning "At that point/place":D:oops:
    Possibly, "dummy adverb".
    It is easy to think of "there" being a "dummy" something, but all that has happened is that "there" has lost some of its demonstrative force.

    Imagine:
    A: [pointing] "Ah, my keys are there = at that/this point" -> demonstrative
    A: [not pointing] "There are keys in the cupboard = "at that/this point that I am mentioning"
    A: [not pointing] " In the cupboard, there are keys = "at that/this point that I am mentioning"
    A: [not pointing] " The keys are there in the cupboard, = "at that/this point that I am mentioning"
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English Standard American
    yes, I think so too. I just would like to say that not in all cases it refers to something definite.
    "It" always refers to something even if we cannot recognize "it" or cannot figure out what "it" is. This just means we have to think about "it". In this last sentence "it" refers to whatever "it" could be in any particular sentence. That's it. :)

    :mad: "dummy subject" o_O
    :mad: "dummy pronoun" o_O

    :rolleyes:
     
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