Generally speaking, "there" has a different meaning depending on whether it appears at the beginning of a sentence (in the subject position) or in the predicate (the second half of a sentence).

Location Meaning Grammatical Function


something exists

  • There is a house.

dummy subject


at that place

  • I found my wallet there.

adverb of place


Consider the following sentences. Can you tell the function of the word "there" in each of them?

There is a dog over there.

  • The first "there" is a dummy subject; it doesn't really have much meaning at all, except to say that the dog exists.
  • The second "there" is an adverb of place; it tells us where the dog is located.

We went there to look for Tim.

  • In this example, "there" is an adverb of place. It tells us where we looked for Tim.

There is nothing quite as thrilling as first love.

In this example, "there" functions as a dummy subject. It really doesn't have much meaning at all, except to say that first love exists.

But mostly, it's just functioning as a placeholder. By putting the word "there" in the subject slot, we can now rearrange the other words in the sentence. Without "there" in the subject position, we would be forced to write something like this:

  • Nothing quite as thrilling as first love exists.

That doesn't sound quite as elegant, does it?



Instructions for the Quiz

Determine whether the "there" in the sentence is functioning as a dummy subject or an adverb of place.

Hint: I'm going to make it easy for you:

Note: In reality, it's not that simple. A "there" at the beginning of a sentence might sometimes be an adverb of place (and not a dummy subject). But for now, we're keeping it simple.