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!


Language level: 


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


hermione123's picture
hermione123 31 December, 2020 - 23:58

I live in Indonesia. There is a celebration called Kartini Day. Kartini Day celebrate women's rights and empowerment in Indonesia. We celebrate this tradition on 21st April. Students usually go to school wear traditional clothes on Kartini Day. there are many traditional clothes in Indonesia so we have many choices.
there are so many traditions in Indonesia, but my favorite is Kartini Day.

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Giovannichoi's picture
Giovannichoi 10 August, 2020 - 04:01

In South Korea, 설날 (Sulnal) and 추석 (Chuseok) is the most greatest holiday ti celebrate. Sulnal is same with New Year's Day, and we gather with our family to eat 떡국 (Tteokguk, which is the soup boiled with meat and ricecakes.). People get their age after eat it. And Chuseok is similar with the Thanksgiving day in USA. We also get together and visit our ancestor's grave to perform ancestral rites. And also we make 송편 (Songpyeon, one of the most famous rice cake in South Korea.), wishing our wishes to the full moon. These are the traditional and well-known culture in Korea.

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BttChiara's picture
BttChiara 19 May, 2020 - 18:22

Here in Italy we celebrate Christmas eve on the 24th of December. On this day some people open their gifts at midnight. We have dinner with some typical food, too. This is my favourite day of the year!

1 user has voted.
MatildePace's picture
MatildePace 26 March, 2020 - 16:20

An unusual local celebration is the Ivrea carnival. It consists of a carnival orange battle in this little town near my house. There are two armies that pull orange. It's a violent celebration.

1 user has voted.
Desy's picture
Desy 26 March, 2020 - 15:09

Yes, where I live there is a local celebration. It's San Giovanni and we celebrate it on 24th of June.

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gattifederica's picture
gattifederica 25 March, 2020 - 16:34

I live in Turin. On 24th June it celebrates San Giovanni. In Piazza San Carlo, a big bonfire is lit and depending on where it falls, it will be a lucky or bad lucky year. During this celebration there are many people.

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giorgia_marchetti's picture
giorgia_marchetti 25 March, 2020 - 14:45

In Itay we celebreted the Hepiphany on 6th jenuary, we put in our home some big socks and in the night and after this socks fill up whit candy.

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Remziyye's picture
Remziyye 11 February, 2017 - 13:21

I am from Azerbaijan
I am a teacher.I have information about there is-there are.We used there is-there are in seasons topic.
Winter, spring, summer and autumn are the seasons of the year.December, January and February are the winter months The weather is cold, usually it snows.
March, April and May are the spring months. It is a very nice season. The weather is fine, it is warm. There are many green trees in the streets in the parks and in the yards. Sometimes it rains but usually the sun shines brightly.
June, July and August are the summer months. It is hot or warm. The days are long and the nights are short. There are many nice flowers in the parks and squares in the summer.
September, October and November are autumn months. The weather is changeable. It often rains. You can see yellow, red, brown leaves everywhere. It is time to gather the harvest.
I like your site.

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JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 13 February, 2017 - 05:53

Hi Remziyye,
Thanks for using LearnEnglish Teens. You are most welcome to use our website with your students but please don't write comments on the site. Only teenage learners are encouraged to join our community and write comments. If you'd like to visit our LearnEnglish site or our TeachingEnglish site you'd be most welcome to write comments there and join their communities.
Best wishes, Joanna.
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pparedes984's picture
pparedes984 3 January, 2017 - 03:34

there aren't too many local celebratioons but aor celebrations are different that other countris for example on new years eve the men dress like women, in the deaths day we eat something call colada morada with guagas de pan and other celebrations that will blow your mind

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VShirleyCh's picture
VShirleyCh 2 January, 2017 - 15:12

I live in the province of Carchi to the north of my cute Ecuador and there is no unusual celebration, what we do is a celebration of the foundation of my locality is once a year and come artists, made proclamations, and accompanied pyrotechnic games With typical food.
It depends on each culture in each locality to perform that party with different programs and different artirtas and typical food.

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goodbyejohn's picture
goodbyejohn 29 November, 2016 - 10:58

In Sweden, we have some rather unusual ones, like for instance, midsummer. We basically dance around a pole like frogs. We also have a day to celebrate waffles and another to celebrate cinnamon buns. Oh, let's not forget Valborg! We basically get big sticks (lots of them) and light it all on fire to scare away witches.

1 user has voted.
Amehsiri's picture
Amehsiri 23 November, 2015 - 17:17

I would say the weirdest Swedish tradition is a thing called "Kräftskiva" where you meet with a group of people just to eat crayfish together. Usually it's celebrated in late August and you've been fishing the crayfish together as well before you sit down to eat them. It must look very strange from the outside when we eat tons of red crayfish, drink shots of liquor and sing strange little songs all night long. There's even decorations especially for this feast so we sweds can glorify the dumbest things. It's a nice little tradition though!

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A_Tree's picture
A_Tree 15 November, 2015 - 16:47

I live in Sweden, and as most people already mentioned, the most odd holiday here is probably midsummer, when we celebrate the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. We dance around a giant cross covered in flowers, singing different songs to go along. We usually eat herring, just as we do on pretty much every other Swedish holiday in existance.

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00joh03's picture
00joh03 12 November, 2015 - 11:02

I think that the weirdest unique celebration we have here in Sweden would be Midsummer. Originally, the vikings used to sacrifice to the gods on this day so that this years harvest would be good. Since then it has evolved quite a bit. Maybe the biggest change is that we don't sacrifice people anymore, as that would be highly illegal. We also dress a pole in different flowers and things and then dance around it. It's not only the children that do this though, grown men do it to, but that might have something to do with the fact that it is quite popular to drink during this holiday.

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GustafBen's picture
GustafBen 10 November, 2015 - 09:59

As a lot of people before me have mentioned we celebrate a very weird holiday called midsummer we're we dance around a pole and drink snaps. We also celebrate chrismas a little odd in comparison to other countries. We celebrate on christmas eve intead of christmas day.

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00kaj03's picture
00kaj03 9 November, 2015 - 00:55

As many people have already mentioned Sweden's most unusual celebration (midsummer), I would like to talk about the typical Swedish Christmas celebrations. At first glance, they may seem normal, but if you look deeper you will notice that they are, in fact, rather unique.

To begin with, Christmas is not celebrated on Christmas Day but on Christmas Eve. Therefore, the excuse of Santa delivering the Christmas presents during the night does not work and instead a family member (or, in some cases, a neighbour or friend of the family) always has to sneak out of the house, dress up as Santa, grab a sack with Christmas presents, knock on the door and then hand out the Christmas presents to each and every person. At least that is how it worked at my family's Christmas celebrations back in the time when we still had someone in the family who believed in Santa.

Anyway, a couple of hours before the faux Santa knocks on the door, it is also tradition for everyone to gather around the TV and watch a special Christmas-themed (poorly Swedish dubbed) Donald Duck programme. Yes, it is exactly as random as it sounds, but we Swedes are actually really fond of it and it would not feel like Christmas if we did not watch it.

Well, there you have it; a very unusual celebration all the way from Sweden!

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Smil73's picture
Smil73 8 November, 2015 - 23:06

In Sweden we have plenty of strange and weird celebrations. But we have this thing called easter, i think it´s the strangest one. We used to celebrate this tradition by not eating the 40 days before easter, and when easter finally came, people celebrated and ate eggs. Nowadays we still eat these very well-tasting eggs, no not those old ones, new ones. We put "påskris" here and there in our houses, it´s usually birch twigs with collared feathers. We also dress our children in strange clothes, give them a broom, and call them "påskkärringar", directly translated to "easter bitches". And we send them out to knock on peoples doors to wish these people a "happy easter". Really strange tradition...

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Alvv's picture
Alvv 8 November, 2015 - 21:04

We have many weird traditions in Sweden. On Midsommar we make a cross out of two big sticks and dress it up in flowers and leaves. We then eat strawberries, pickled herring, eggs, meatballs and a lot of other food whilst singing songs. After that we dance the small frogs and 'this is how we walk around the juniper berry bush', among others. It's a great holiday and it happens once every year.

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goppis1337's picture
goppis1337 8 November, 2015 - 20:51

Here in Sweden we have many strange celebrations not to talk about midsummer. We celebrate the day of the cinamon bun. Everybody just bake cinamon buns and eat them. At my local store they sold newly baked big cinamon buns for just five SEK. I think I bought like ten buns that day.

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icecream1337's picture
icecream1337 8 November, 2015 - 20:40

A lot of the traditions we have in Sweden, are celebrated in other parts of the world as well. Like christmas and easter. But traditions as Valborg and Midsummer, I do not believe are celebrated in other countries. But what do I know? On Valborg, we set a pile of wood and branches on fire and watch them, burn. I am not sure why we are doning this, but it is fun! Midsummer is even weirder. We dance around a pole and sing songs, and eat a lot of food. Food such as baltic herring is not one of my favourites. But other than that it is a great holiday we spend with friends and family, and eat a lot of amazing and delicous food.

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pepparkaka's picture
pepparkaka 8 November, 2015 - 20:24

A tradition I find very strange is easter. I come from Sweden and yes, there are a lot of other countries celebrating easter. But I find that tradition very weird. Why would we want a controlling rabbit make us look for candy? Isn't easter about celebrating Jesus Christ's resurrection and remembering his suffering? What do yellow chickens have to do with that? Another easter tradition is getting branches, putting them in a vase and then hanging colored feathers on them. I mean, how weird is that? We also dress up like witches and visit our neighbors to wish them a happy easter. What do witches have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Not that I'm a christian, but it does feel like us Swedes are just making things up to make easter sound fun. I don't even think easter is about having fun. My mom is a christian and she says we should mourn about Jesus's suffering and his death. Well, I haven't read a lot about easter. I'm just talking about my own experiences.

Another weird tradition from Sweden is midsummer. It's a time where we gather our people to raise something we call the midsummer pole. It's like a wooden cross, just like the christian cross, and it has one flower wreath on each "arm". Before we raise the pole, we drape it in flowers and leafs. And when we've raised it, we dance around it. To me it sounds like witchcraft. And that's not all there is. Some people even dress in the old traditional clothing with clogs and all. Even if it all sounds weird, I think we do it because of the solidarity. We want to keep together (in a non-racist way!!!) and I guess we want to keep being informed about our country's past. I think it's a good thing, because we're having fun. With strangers even, and that's a big step for a Swede!

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wmandan's picture
wmandan 8 November, 2015 - 20:20

Just as alot of other people that have posted comments here, I am Swedish. Really there are two celebrations that are unic for Sweden, or at least for Scandinavia, and those are midsummer and valborg (i don't really know how to translate that one. he direct translation would be ''Choice-castle'' but it has nothing to do with either of those words. In midsummer we celebrate the the day is at its longest and the night at its shortest. We do this by decorating a giant cross with rings underneath the horizontal log. It is decorated with leaves and flowers and the Swedish flag. We the dance around the cross, singing childish songs with different movements to them. It is also tradition to have different competitions during the day, like sack jumping or carrying a potato around on a spoon. During this celebration we eat herring and egg and potato, and drink A LOT of alcohol.
Valborg is a celebration in the fall where people gather around a huge campfire. According to the myth, the fire is to scare all the witches away.

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Mathii00's picture
Mathii00 8 November, 2015 - 19:55

In Sweden we have this celebration called ‘’midsommar’’ which you celebrate in June. In this celebration you dance around a ‘’tree’’ which is made of flowers and branches. It’s very usual that you play this game called ‘’5-kamp’’ which is a mix of 5 different games. You eat special food which consist herring, fresh potatoes and strawberries as a dessert.
In Sweden we also celebrate food on certain days. There are ‘’våffeldagen’’ which means the waffle day where you eat a lot of waffles. Then there is ‘’Fettisdagen’’ where you eat pastries who is called ‘’semlor’’. And as the final food-day you have ‘’kanelbullens dag’’ which means the day of cinnamon buns where you eat cinnamon buns. We’re a little bit odd with these traditions but I think they’re great because you get to eat food, and I love food.

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