Till there was you

Aarmore

New Member
Spanish
Hi there!
There is this name for Beatles' song ""Till there was you", but as far as I know we always use in past tense:
I .. was
You .. were
He .. was
Etc.

We .. were
They .. were
Etc.

Is this related to any English British grammar rule?
I am from México and I am more related with AE.
Thank you in advance!
 
  • Welcome to the forums.
    'There was' is the past tense.
    'I never heard them at all till there was you'.

    Could you explain exactly what your confusion is?
     
    ¿Puedo especular?
    Como el OP nos presenta la tabla de conjugación del verbo "to be" en pasado, creo que espera que la frase sea *"till there were you". Y eso porque interpreta que la frase dice "hasta (que) allí estabas tú". Pero el verbo aquí se conjuga con "there" para significar "haber" como en "there is an apple on the table". En este caso el objeto directo es "you".
     
    ¿Puedo especular?
    Como el OP nos presenta la tabla de conjugación del verbo "to be" en pasado, creo que espera que la frase sea *"till there were you". Y eso porque interpreta que la frase dice "hasta (que) allí estabas tú". Pero el verbo aquí se conjuga con "there" para significar "haber" como en "there is an apple on the table". En este caso el objeto directo es "you".
    Exacto esa es la pregunta Mister Draken
     
    ¿Puedo especular?
    Como el OP nos presenta la tabla de conjugación del verbo "to be" en pasado, creo que espera que la frase sea *"till there were you". Y eso porque interpreta que la frase dice "hasta (que) allí estabas tú". Pero el verbo aquí se conjuga con "there" para significar "haber" como en "there is an apple on the table". En este caso el objeto directo es "you".
    Creo que entiendo por dónde viene lo que decís, pero no me queda del todo claro.
    ¿Cuál es el sujeto en "there was you"?

    ¿Dirías también entonces "There was three apples on the table"?
    O ¿There is three apples on the table?

    Porque si tu respuesta a las últimas doe preguntas es "claro que no, se dice 'there were/are three apples on the table", entonces todavía no explicaste por qué está bien "there was you" en vez de "there were you". Si es que está realmente bien y no se trata nomás de una licencia poética.
     
    "Till there was you" sounds correct to me in that particular context. I don't think it's wrong or nonstandard like "There was two apples on the table."

    I have no idea how to explain it, though. Maybe somebody else does.
     
    Creo que entiendo por dónde viene lo que decís, pero no me queda del todo claro.
    ¿Cuál es el sujeto en "there was you"?

    ¿Dirías también entonces "There was three apples on the table"?
    O ¿There is three apples on the table?

    Porque si tu respuesta a las últimas doe preguntas es "claro que no, se dice 'there were/are three apples on the table", entonces todavía no explicaste por qué está bien "there was you" en vez de "there were you". Si es que está realmente bien y no se trata nomás de una licencia poética.

    Primero quiero aclarar que no soy experto en análisis gramatical ni en castellano ni en inglés.

    There is significa "hay" (existe). Es una construcción impersonal. ¿Cuál es el sujeto de las construcciones impersonales en castellano?

    El objeto directo de la frase es "you" (que es singular). Y puede traducirse mal "hasta que habías tú". Pero se traduce "hasta que apareciste/llegaste/estuviste tú".

    Se comprende al escuchar la letra:

    There were bells on a hill
    But I never heard them ringing
    No, I never heard them at all
    'Til there was you


    Traducción rápida:

    "Había campanas en una colina
    Pero nunca las oí sonar
    No, nunca las oí en absoluto
    Hasta que estuviste tú"


    En el primer verso bells es plural, ergo there were. En el último you es singular, ergo there was.
     
    There is significa "hay" (existe). Es una construcción impersonal.
    But I understand Gabriel's question. If "There is" (meaning "hay") is impersonal, then why does it agree in number with what follows in sentences like "There were two apples on the table"?

    EDIT: Maybe you should post this question in the English Only forum. There are lots of English grammar experts there.
     
    Me parece que en las oraciones con el "there to be", el sujeto es "there" y las formas verbales sólo pueden estar en tercera persona. Irán en plural o singular, dependiendo de la construcción sustantiva que las sigue pero sólo en tercera persona.
    Y si lo que sigue son pronombres personales (objeto) irá siempre en singular.
    Por eso podemos decir (creo): "there is me", "there is you", "there is us".

    En este caso tenemos lo mismo con el verbo en pasado: "there was me", "there was you", "there was us"...

    ¿Estoy en lo cierto?
     
    Me parece que en las oraciones con el "there to be", el sujeto es "there" y las formas verbales sólo pueden estar en tercera persona. Irán en plural o singular, dependiendo de la construcción sustantiva que las sigue pero sólo en tercera persona.
    Y si lo que sigue son pronombres personales (objeto) irá siempre en singular.
    Por eso podemos decir (creo): "there is me", "there is you", "there is us".

    En este caso tenemos lo mismo con el verbo en pasado: "there was me", "there was you", "there was us"...

    ¿Estoy en lo cierto?
    Puede ser, per aún si así fuera me quedarían dudas.
    ¿Si lo digo en presente es "there is you"?
     
    Hola:
    Me parece que en las oraciones con el "there to be", el sujeto es "there"
    Es exactamente esto, there es un dummy subject, y tras el verbo viene el sujeto real. Imagino que suena bien porque el sujeto es en rigor singular (una sola persona, you), la oración no expresa una acción realizada por varias personas o cosas, o el estado en que están, sino que indica quién está, existe, en este caso ese you a quien The Beatles le dedicaron la canción.

    G.
     
    Estoy seguro de que el estimado @gengo puede darnos aquí una explicación gramatical.

    You may be overestimating my abilities. :)

    I understand the OP's question, which is reasonable and logical.

    You were there = Estabas ahí.

    In this case, "there" is an adverb and refers to a real place.
    However, "there is" can also mean "hay," as mentioned above in this thread, in which case "there" is a pronoun. Just as "hay" doesn't follow the normal rules of conjugation, "there is" also does not.

    Here is an example of this usage.

    - Everyone is busy, so who will do it?
    - Well, there is you.

    Logically, we might expect this to be "there are you," because "you" takes "are" as the present tense form of "to be," but we should think of "there is" as a unit, which only changes its conjugation for number and tense, but not for person.

    In the Beatles song, "till there was you" means "until you came along," or "until I met you." Literally, it is "until you existed," but it is a poetic way of speaking.

    Therefore:
    - Everyone is busy, so who will do it?
    - Well, there are you and Steve.
     
    You may be overestimating my abilities. :)

    I understand the OP's question, which is reasonable and logical.

    You were there = Estabas ahí.

    In this case, "there" is an adverb and refers to a real place.
    However, "there is" can also mean "hay," as mentioned above in this thread, in which case "there" is a pronoun. Just as "hay" doesn't follow the normal rules of conjugation, "there is" also does not.

    Here is an example of this usage.

    - Everyone is busy, so who will do it?
    - Well, there is you.

    Logically, we might expect this to be "there are you," because "you" takes "are" as the present tense form of "to be," but we should think of "there is" as a unit, which only changes its conjugation for number and tense, but not for person.

    In the Beatles song, "till there was you" means "until you came along," or "until I met you." Literally, it is "until you existed," but it is a poetic way of speaking.

    Therefore:
    - Everyone is busy, so who will do it?
    - Well, there are you and Steve.
    I suppose that we don't have a choice other than accepting how English is.
    But it is so confusing that the verb's conjugation depends on only one characteristic of a pronoun (the number, but not whether it is 1st, 2nd or 3rd person).

    With "hay", at least we take it as an impersonal sentence that is ALWAYS conjugated in 3rd person singular, regardless of the person and number of the object (as it is ALWAYS the case, with "hay" or otherwise, you don't have to match verb's conjugation to the object).
     
    Logically, we might expect this to be "there are you," because "you" takes "are" as the present tense form of "to be," but we should think of "there is" as a unit, which only changes its conjugation for number and tense, but not for person.
    Nicely put. And I agree that this reflects usage.
    I suppose that we don't have a choice other than accepting how English is.
    But it is so confusing that the verb's conjugation depends on only one characteristic of a pronoun (the number, but not whether it is 1st, 2nd or 3rd person).

    With "hay", at least we take it as an impersonal sentence that is ALWAYS conjugated in 3rd person singular, regardless of the person and number of the object (as it is ALWAYS the case, with "hay" or otherwise, you don't have to match verb's conjugation to the object).
    I also agree with this. It seems bizarre that "there is/are" when asserting existence apparently does agree in number, but not in person. The construction is apparently neither fully "personal" nor fully "impersonal," but some mixture of the two. And that's a little disturbing.

    But languages are like that, I guess.
     
    But it is so confusing that the verb's conjugation depends on only one characteristic of a pronoun (the number, but not whether it is 1st, 2nd or 3rd person).

    If it is any consolation, this is not something you will have to deal with very often.

    With "hay", at least we take it as an impersonal sentence that is ALWAYS conjugated in 3rd person singular,

    Well, logically we might expect haber to conjugate as yo habo, tú habes, etc. Hay is an exception, just as "there is" is.

    Languages are messy, but that's why we love them more than mathematics, right?
     
    Well, logically we might expect haber to conjugate as yo habo, tú habes, etc. Hay is an exception, just as "there is" is.

    Languages are messy, but that's why we love them more than mathematics, right?
    I disagree. Haber is just an irregular verb, as tons of verbs both in Spanish and English.

    Constructions with "hay" are impersonal and impersonal sentences (not only the ones with "hay") are always conjugated in the 3rd person singular

    Había muchas cosas
    Se dice que ellos son culpables
    Estas últimas semanas llovió mucho
    Los próximos tres días
    hará calor


    The bolded parts are objects and the underlined parts are adverbs or adverbial clauses. The subject is nowhere to be seen or even implied. It is a "virtual" subject "he".

    Once you accept that impersonal sentences exist and are like this, the only strange thing is that, for the particular case of impersonal sentences with "haber" in present only, the syntax of the 3rd person singular conjugation is hay instead of ha:

    Él ha ido / Hay muchas cosas.

    For the rest of the tenses, the syntax matches:

    Él había ido / Había muchas cosas.
    Él habrá ido / Habrá muchas cosas.
    And so on.

    What we never do (I think) is match the verb with an object, or match it with anything in number but not in person.
     
    What we never do (I think) is match the verb with an object, or match it with anything in number but not in person.

    I didn't say that "hay" and "there is" function the same way, or even that they are equally exceptional. I just said that they are both exceptions to the general rules of grammar.

    the only strange thing is that ... the syntax of the 3rd person singular conjugation is hay instead of ha

    Actually, we would logically expect it to be "habe," not "ha." "Ha" itself is an exception.
     
    Él ha ido / Hay muchas cosas.

    For the rest of the tenses, the syntax matches:

    Él había ido / Había muchas cosas.
    Él habrá ido / Habrá muchas cosas.
    And so on.

    What we never do (I think) is match the verb with an object, or match it with anything in number but not in person.

    Ha ido/había ido, etc.

    Gabriel, en estos ejemplos tuyos el verbo "haber" es un auxiliar.

    En hay/había/hubo muchas cosas el verbo "haber" no es auxiliar. He ahí la diferencia y por eso no pueden compararse: cumplen distintas funciones.


    En inglés se pluraliza: there is an apple/there are two apples.
    En castellano no: hay una manzana/hay dos manzanas.
     
    Last edited:
    En inglés se pluraliza: there is an apple/there are two apples.
    En castellano no: hay una manazana/hay dos manzanas.

    Right, and while Gabriel seems to think that makes Spanish simpler, it is actually confusing and frustrating for Spanish learners because they want to say things like "Espero que hayan muchas manzanas," as that would seem to follow the normal rules of Spanish, even though it is actually incorrect.
     
    Más aún: todo verbo modal que precede al verbo "haber" en el sentido de existir también va en singular en todos los tiempos y modos. Por ejemplo:

    En el jardín podía haber una carreta.
    En el jardín podía haber dos carretas.
    En mi escuela solía haber una jirafa.
    En mi escuela solía haber tres canguros.
     
    @gengo, @Mister Draken, estoy de acuerdo con todo lo que dicen.

    Y yo no creo que sea más simple en español. Como dijo gengo, muchos hispanohablantes lo usan mal (yo también lo hacía, lo tuve que aprender a usar bien ya de grande, y de vez en cuando todavía se me escapa).

    Lo que sí pienso (y es probable que esté sesgado) es que en español eta construcción en particular es más gramaticalmente consistente o gramaticalmente lógica.

    Como buen ingeniero (o mal ingeniero, no sé), siempre trato de encontrarle la explicación científico-matemática a las cosas. Y el lenguaje no se lleva del todo bien con esa mentalidad.

    Como anécdota, de muy chiquito yo decía que lo contrario a fácil debía ser fícil en vez de difícil. Cuando crecí un poco (pero todavía niño) concluí que lo que pensaba estaba mal, que lo contrario de fácil debía ser difácil (y en cierta forma todavía lo siento así 😂 )
     
    For the record: The Beatles were not the first to cover the song, "a show tune written by Meredith Willson, popularised by his 1957 stage production The Music Man", according to Wikipedia.
     
    Es lo que dice @lagartija68 en #12.
    "There is/are" + [algo], usado impersonalmente, requiere que lo que sigue sea 3ra persona.

    Los sustantivos son de por sí 3ra persona. Los pronombres personales, cuando son encajados en esa función impersonal, también adoptan su función de sustantivo. Y esto supera/invalida el hecho de que "you" sea gramaticalmente plural, incluso cuando es usado para una persona individual.

    Si la canción de Los Beatles se hubiera referido a un grupo de personas, no habría habido problema en decir "until there were you all", o algo así.

    Dicho todo lo cual, en inglés coloquial es bastante común usar "There is/was" como fórmula fija, aunque lo que sigue sea plural.
    "There is laws against that". Pero eso no es lo que está pasando en el ejemplo propuesto por el OP, sino lo que dice @lagartija68.
     
    Mi intento:

    There were bells on a hill. Había campanas en el cerro.
    But I never heard them ringing. Pero nunca las oía sonar.
    No, I never heard them at all. No, nunca las oía en absoluto.
    'Til there was you. Hasta que no estuvieras tú
     
    Quizás la explicación no sea grammatical, sino más bien pragmática: se usa lo que suena mejor. Si fuese en presente, no creo que diríamos till there are you ni tampoco till there is you; ambas suenan horrible. Pero till there's you ya es más eufónica, con el verbo singular is ahí como escondido en la contracción y pronunciación there's. Y a lo mejor esa idea de "verbo en singular" se traslada al pasado en till there was you. Dicho de otra manera, si There's se entiende como una frase hecha para el presente, la frase hecha para el pasado será there was, sin contracción, ya que "there's" siempre se entiende como "presente."

    Y también hay otra razón pragmática para till there was you. Aqui hay una inversión sujeto-verbo auxiliar motivada por el adverbio "till." Ahora bien, sin inversión (till you are there) se entiende cognitivamente que "you" es singular y no plural, pues se deduce que se le está hablando a una persona, directa o indirectamente. Pero en till there was you, con inversión, el pronombre "you" queda relagado el final, donde ya no resalta su valor cognitivo de "singular." En tal caso, el verbo pasado singular was viene al rescate para dejar bien claro que nos referimos a una sola persona.

    Por otra parte, en la construcción existencial There's, la concordancia sujeto-verbo (There = sujeto; 's = verbo) es secundaria y realmente sin importancia. There's es simplemente una manera rápida de lanzar la frase; la parte significativa viene después. De ahí que la concordancia sea invariable, con el predicado en singular (There's one apple on the table) o plural (There's two apples on the table). Pero esto es para el presente. En pasado, la concordancia sujeto-verbo es marcada (There was one apple on the table; There were two apples on the table), precisamente porque "There was" no tiene contracción.

    (Y seguro que he repetido algo que ya se ha dicho.)
     
    ... hasta que no hubo "tú".
    :thumbsup:
    So it's not "hasta que no te hubo", which sounds wrong to me. I suspect it has to be "tú", entre comillas, as a sort of impersonal idea.

    The original song was "Till I Met You" by Meredith Willson, but when Willson repurposed it for The Music Man, he changed it to "Till there was you".

    The usual "delayed subject" with existential "there" is something indefinite like "bells" (not the bells") or "love", or like "a maiden" in "It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea, that a maiden there lived whom you may know …" (quoth Edgar Allan Poe).

    Some contributors in English Only have even said that a definite "delayed subject" is impossble, but in fact we do say things like "There's the guy with the goose", etc., and even a proper noun is possible:

    Q: Is there no one who can help John with that desk?
    A1: Well, there's the guy with the goose.
    A2: Well, there's Joan. Oh, and then there's Maude.
    A3: Well, there's me. [There am I.:cross:]
    A4: Well, there's us, Jim and me. [There are we:cross:]
    A5: Well, there are you and me.

    Somehow "us" sounds like one thing, but "you and me" must be two people.
     
    Somehow "us" sounds like one thing, but "you and me" must be two people.
    Because the mechanism works for 3rd persons only. "You and I" can be reinterpreted as 2 nouns (things), i.e., a 3rd person plural, whereas "us" or "we" singly can't.
    But it works again when we increase the number of "things": "There are us and many others ..."
     
    ... hasta que no hubo "tú".
    Me voy a referir solo al "no", dejando de lado si el verbo está bien o no.

    Al menos en la variedad argentina del español, sería:
    ... hasta que hubo "tú"
    o
    ... mientras no había "tú"

    Por usar un ejemplo que suena más normal:

    Debes seguir luchando hasta que te mueras
    Debes seguir luchando mientras no estés muerto
     
    Si pensamos, nos damos cuenta de que algunas de las otras formas tienen flexiones de dativo... "There was Jason and him" and "There is me".

    Sabemos que el inglés se ha influído del francés, y en francés tenemos "Il y avait lui et Jason" y "Il y a moi". (Más dativos, con un sujeto explícito en francés "il -> it"; "Il y a..." -> lit. "It there is...").

    No sé si hay algún vínculo, pero razones como estas nos pueden dar reglas "irregulares". No tengo conocimientos de las lenguas germánicas y nórdicas, y sus verbos de existencia.
     
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    Therefore:
    - Everyone is busy, so who will do it?
    - Well, there are you and Steve.
    Yes, "there ARE you and Steve", but the irony is that 99% of Americans would say, "there's you and Steve". Which is ridiculous, but the way she goes. ¡Así es como va! In the end I don't think it matters since accepted language works pretty well in trivial cases.
     
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