There is / There are and It

There is / There are and It

Instructions: 

As you watch the video, look at the examples of there is, there are and it. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, there is, there are and it correctly.

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Sophie is working in Spain this week to write about the local fiestas. She phones Oliver to tell him all about it.

We often use there + to be and It…as a subject but they do not refer to any object. There is / are is used to introduce a topic, or say that something exists. It … is often used for the weather, time and distance.

Can I have some examples of there is / there are, please?

There's so much happening.
Is there anything much going on at the moment?
There are two new students in our class.
There aren't any good football matches on TV this week.

What about other tenses? Is there is / there are only used in the present?

No, you can change the tense.

There were fire-breathing dragons in the streets.
Were there any accidents?
I think there'll be loads of people at the festival.
There haven't been many entries for the competition.

I'm a bit confused about when to use there is / there are and when to use it or they.
 

Have a look at these sentences. The topic is introduced with there is / are, then it and they refer back to something already mentioned.

There's a good film on channel 2. It starts at 10 o'clock.    (It = the film)
There are two new students in our class. They're from Brazil. (They = the students)

So you can't use it or they as subjects in the first sentences?
 

No, you can't.

OK, but you can start some sentences with it, can't you? Like, 'It's very hot today.'
 

Yes. We use it for talking about the weather, time, distance and days and dates.

It's warm and sunny
What time is it? > It's only 6 o'clock
How far is it to the shopping centre? > It's three km to my house from here. It's a long way to walk.
It's Saturday tomorrow, great!
What's the date? It's November 18th.

Phew! That's quite a lot of uses!
 

Yes, and there's more. We also use it + to be + adjective + infinitive clauses. In these sentences it refers forwards to the infinitive clause.

It's nice to meet you.
It's hard to hear anything with this noise.
Was it easy to understand him?
It'll be difficult to find the venue without a map.

OK, that's enough for one grammar snack. It's time to go.
 

That's a good it expression!

It's very good of you to say so!
 

Yes, it really is time to stop now! Bye!

 

Total votes: 462

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Grammar: 

Discussion

Are there any unusual local celebrations where you live? Tell us about them here.

Comments

remus's picture
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In Sweden, I guess that Midsummer is the strangest celebrated thing here... We dance around maypoles, in june so the name doesn't even make any sense, and jump like frogs and just gives adults an excuse to drink a lot.
I usually doesn't celerate Midsummer because I think that it's pointless.

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4 users have voted.
Magna99's picture
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I am from Iceland but have lived in Sweden for 9 years now. I think that the most unique holiday here is midsummer. Midsummer is always celebrated in the end of June, often between the 19:th and the 26:th. We raise and dance around a maypole covered with flowers and eat a lot of strawberries. We also sing about funny frogs.

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7 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
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Hi Magna. That sounds like an interesting festival. In England there's a similar festival with dancing round a maypole but it happens in Spring - 1st May, and it's more commonly celebrated in towns and villages in the countryside rather than big cities. It's a really nice time of year but it can be a bit rainy.

Speaking of Iceland, at the moment the LearnEnglish Teens Team are working on a new grammar video set in Iceland, so look out for that soon! :)

Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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5 users have voted.
OrigamiCrane's picture
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In my town the university students make a carnival every four years. They always have some kind of fun theme, last time it was the future and they had a big parade with trucks dressed up like different things they imagined for the future (or they just thought it looked funny).

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6 users have voted.
DagJensen's picture
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In Lund we celebrate "Valborg". It's quite a weird tradition, but that's the students fault. It's basically so that everyone go to the central park downtown and get drunk. And that's it.
A better tradition is the carnival which takes place every fourth year. There are always great music acts coming to play, and there's even a carnival train, It's amazing, and that's like the only time it feels like we're living in a proper city and not a small university town.

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5 users have voted.
Streetlamp's picture
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In Sweden we have midsummer. I'm not really sure why we celebrate it but I think it is because of the summer solstice. We celebrate it by dancing in a ring around a large cross and singing weird songs. After that we eat all sorts of food like herring, eggs and strawberries.

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6 users have voted.
DanEman's picture
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I have to say the Swedish national day. Now you may think, "but celebrating a national day isn't weird!?" But hear me out. The thing about how we swedes celebrate our national day is that we don't celebrate it at all! Yeah we hoist the flag and maybe eat the same things we do on all of our other celebrations but not more than that. No fireworks or parades, no special events or anything like that. That's why I think that the Swedish national day is a very weird thing that we "celebrate".

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7 users have voted.
99magdalena's picture
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I personally don't think that we are celebrating anything unusual here in Sweden. But if I would have to chose it would be midsummer. I am from Poland so I am not really celebrating it and I can't say so much about the celebration. But I can say that there is a lot of good food and a lot of fun!

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7 users have voted.
helloholahej's picture
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In Sweden we have this celebration called "Lucia". We celebrate it the thirteenth of December to honor the Saint Lucia, she was not a Swedish though, but Sicilian. This marks the start of Christmas celebrations. Some people (mostly kids and younger people) join a “Lucia Parade” where they dress up as Santa Clauses, gingerbreads, and “tärnor” witch is girls and boys that walk behind the one dressed up as Lucia. They wear white dresses and are holding candles in their hands. At the end of the parade the “star boys” walk. They have white dresses and white cones on their heads. They have actually been confused with the KKK but it has absolutely nothing to do with that. The entire parade sings Christmas carols and gives out free coffee, gingerbread and saffron buns. All this takes place in the early morning so it is dark accept the light from the candles in the parade. It is quite cozy actually.

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5 users have voted.
MrCucumber's picture
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The only unsual celebration that I can think of is Midsummer. I´m from swededn and when me and my friend were in London we thought it would be funny to show some people the swedish tradition. We showed them how to jump around like frogs but they just laughed at us and thought we were kidding.

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6 users have voted.
sonjath's picture
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I would say, midsummer is an unusual celebration. We dance, eat herring and strawberries and sing songs about funny frogs. We do have Lucia, though, but I wouldn't say that that's a local celebration, because it originally comes from Italy. It's basically one girl, Lucia, with a crown with candles on her head and people in long, white dresses singing Christmas carols with candles in their hands.

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6 users have voted.
MalalaFan's picture
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I think that almost every country has its "unusual" celebration, it's just not unusual to the people who are used to it. For example, in Sweden we have something called midsommar, and what we do at midsommar is that we dance around a big pole in the ground and sing.

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7 users have voted.
Fartasaki's picture
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Most celebrations are odd to me, but there is one that tops alot of them in Sweden. It's called midsummer, and I have no real idea what we celebrate, however I do know it features dancing around a pole, which kind of looks like "the pillar and the stones". I hope you know what I mean.

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6 users have voted.
MetallicA's picture
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i think that midsummer sums it all up. it's a wickerd celebration for no known cause.. I mean we dance around a big cross, acting like frogs and other animals. this could have influences from religion but midsummer also includes alot of alcohol drinking.

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4 users have voted.
Fredde_Regge's picture
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In Sweden we have something called midsummer and that is pretty much us dancing around a big pole that's decorated with leafs and flowers. I think this ia rather unusual.

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7 users have voted.
Tocca's picture
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I'm from Sweden and well... Midsummer of course. You basically dance like a frog around a flowercovered pole. But I would say "Day of cinnamonbun" doesn't exist in other countries, does it? Or "Fat Tuesday" where you eat buns with cream? Ugh, hard to translate, but it would be great fun to know.

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8 users have voted.
SeaBreezeMcZazzle's picture
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I agree with the other swedes here, midsummer is a rather unusual celebration where you dance around a pole pretending to be a frog and whatnot. All cultures are weird in their own way.

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9 users have voted.
HannahSch's picture
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I think that midsummer is kind of strange, I mean dancing around a pole pretending to be frog isn't very normal, and all the other songs in fact. I can't think of something else that is more strange than the other traditions.

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9 users have voted.
SaraConner's picture
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Well in Sweden there aren't really any "unusual" celebrations more like traditional. We have Midsummer and sometimes the cinnamonbread day that we celebrate. We have different carnivals and festivals we celebrate and go out to enjoy!

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12 users have voted.
Nora909's picture
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There are a few unusual celebrations in Sweden like midsummer. There's also some local stuff like carnivals in my town which the students organize.

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12 users have voted.

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