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: 

Discussion

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

Comments

plingrid's picture
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plingrid 8 November, 2015 - 19:28

In Sweden, we have Waffle day! It's an entire day dedicated to waffles and It's actually pretty big. Many people go out to cafes and have waffles with either jam or whipped cream. I love that tradition!

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agnesn's picture
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agnesn 8 November, 2015 - 19:08

Most people have already mentioned midsummer, but I think it's the biggest unusual celebration in Sweden. I don't know how it is for everyone else, but in my family we mainly eat the same kind of food that we eat around easter time. Other than the food, we dance around like frogs. During midsummer people tend to wear flower crowns as well.

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basket00's picture
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basket00 8 November, 2015 - 18:55

I live in Sweden. We have a lot of wierd traditions. We have something called Midsommar or midsummer in English. Midsommar is in the end of june. We rise a big pole and dress it with flowers. Then we dance around it and sing songs. This dances are the wierdest dances. We pretend to be frogs, foxes and mouses. After we eat the same food as we eat on the christmas and easter. This is just one of all the strange traditions we have in Sweden.

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Samjo1's picture
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Samjo1 8 November, 2015 - 18:21

Here in lund she have a thing called Tomanders christmas which basically is that you celebrate christmas like people did it 100 years ago.

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mux1911's picture
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mux1911 8 November, 2015 - 17:10

In Sweden we have a crazy tradition called midsummer. The thing you basically do is dancing round a midsummer pole, drinking booze and eating rotten fish.

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niastabes's picture
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niastabes 8 November, 2015 - 16:42

In sweden we have this unusual tradition where we eat fermented herring its called Surströmmingskiva. It is a group of people that can withstand the terrible smell and taste of the fermented fish and eat with thin crisp bread,onions and potatoes and served almost like sandwich.

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Pencilandpaper's picture
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Pencilandpaper 8 November, 2015 - 15:50

We have the common holidays like christmas and easter, that are celebrated abroad as well. But we have smaller "special days" for the craziest things. Waffles and cinnamon buns have their own day for example. We also have a week off från school in the autumn for potatoes and a day called bean sunday. I have no idea why cinnamon buns should have their own day, but hey, I don't complain when the buns cost 1 dollar a piece.

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Lizard20's picture
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Lizard20 8 November, 2015 - 15:13

No not really i wish their was something thow like an anual pancake eating Contest or something :)

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Dugg's picture
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Dugg 8 November, 2015 - 14:49

In sweden there is a tradition that when you finish gymnasium you drink a lot of alcohol and party on truks and you go a round town singing. I think it is a really fun tradition and escpecially in Lund because its a university town so its a good atmospehre around thies celebrations. And when you'r done partying on the truck you often have a party at home.

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Noh8m8's picture
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Noh8m8 8 November, 2015 - 14:30

All traditions we have in Sweden are**** actually kind of strange, but some of them (like christmas and easter) is celebrated in other countries too. But not midsummer. Almost everybody here in this discussion has already written about midsummer and how strange it is. I totally agree! We dance like frogs around a big cross/pole decorated with flowers and eat eggs and fish. And if you put seven flowers of different kinds under your pillow you will dream about the person you will marry in the future. It acctually has some similarities with christmas (the food, the dancing and that you celebrate it with your familly).

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Daffodil4's picture
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Daffodil4 8 November, 2015 - 12:37

When you finish high school in Sweden, we have a tradition where the students get driven around on the back of a truck dressed in white dresses or suits. The city is full of trucks, loud music and screaming students at that time.

In Sweden we also have (as mentioned before) Midsummer and Walpurgis Night. Midsummer is at the end of June, always on a Friday to avoid car accidents in the morning the day after the feast when people otherwise would have driven to work. At Midsummer we dance around the maypole, sing traditional songs and we eat herring, potatoes and eggs just as we do on Christmas Eve.

The 30th of April is Walpurgis Night here in Sweden. Then we light a bonfire to celebrate that the winter is over and we sing songs about the coming spring. Nowadays the children roast marshmallows on the open fire.

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Wyvern's picture
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Wyvern 8 November, 2015 - 11:50

Being from Sweden I shall try to not speak about midsummer(failed already) as many had already written about it. I shall instead talk about "the day of cinnamon buns". OK, I won't talk about it, will let you figure it out yourself

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JoEditor's picture
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JoEditor 8 November, 2015 - 13:28

Hi Wyvern,
Please tell us about 'the day of cinnamon buns'! It's sounds very unusual. 
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

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Avalag's picture
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Avalag 8 November, 2015 - 09:27

The only thing that is special for sweden is midsummer I guess, we put up a pole, dance around it, and then you eat the same food as you do on easter and christmas eve. The holidays are quite samey in Sweden...

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I_love_9gag's picture
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I_love_9gag 8 November, 2015 - 09:23

I live in sweden, in Lund to be exact.
Here in sweden we have some very weird holidays, the weirdest ones are called midsommar (midsummer) and Valborg.

On midsummer we build a giant cross and dresses it with flowers, then we dance around it. there are many of theories where the midsummer pole comes from, but i wont get into that.

The we have valborg, we drag twigs into a huge pile and lit it on fire, then we watch it burn (one of my personal favorites).

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esouth's picture
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esouth 7 November, 2015 - 19:47

I'm from Sweden, and the only tradition I can of that is especially Swedish is midsummer. It actually comes from norse mythology, an I'm almost certain in the honour of the fertility gods, Frey and Freya. We sing songs and dance around a big pole, often decorated with flowers, in the shape of the male gentitals. We usually eat things that are considered "typically Swedish" (for examples meatballs, potatoes and salomon).

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daisybuchanan's picture
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daisybuchanan 7 November, 2015 - 18:48

I'm from Lund, Sweden, and I think that the most Swedish holiday that I know of is midsummer - midsommar in Swedish. It's usually celebrated around the end of June, because that's around the longest day of the year. There's a lot of different traditions connected to the Swedish midsummer, but the most "classic" one is that we dance around a pole pretending to be frogs. Children, or sometimes people in their early to mid teens, often place seven different kinds of flowers beneath their pillows to earn luck and dream about their true love.

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millaw's picture
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millaw 7 November, 2015 - 17:53

Well, we have midsummer. It's a celebration of the summer solstice i think, and it's celebrated in june.
Basically you get together with people, often your family, and eat dinner together. Often the kids and sometimes the adults dance around a decorated pole. Like most swedish traditions you eat herring and eggs at the dinner. Also you drink alot.

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20David00's picture
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20David00 7 November, 2015 - 15:59

In Sweden we celebrate midsummer. We celebrate midsummer on the longest day of the year, that is usually in the end of June. We celebrate it by singing and dancing around a maypole. We also eat a lot of different kinds of food, for example herring and eggs.

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MBlomman's picture
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MBlomman 7 November, 2015 - 13:48

well there isn't a lot of people in the village I live in. But i know of some celebrities that comes from here. there was a comedian that lived here before he moved to a bigger city. then there is a young girl that were one of the contestant in the TV program Idol. But i don't think there is any more "celebrities" in my little village.

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MBlomman's picture
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MBlomman 8 November, 2015 - 18:01

oops! I misread :p tihi! Celebration not celebrities! well well. there isn't any special celebrations here either :P

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Dade's picture
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Dade 7 November, 2015 - 13:35

One of the few local celebrations here in Lund that are unique, is called ''Lunda karnivalen''. It's a sort of carnival where lots of people from different ctites are assemled throughout the city in waiting of a long parade that circles the city.

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the29th's picture
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the29th 7 November, 2015 - 13:04

I honestly don't know anything about about any local celebrations here. I mean, here in Sweden we have "midsommar" but I guess that counts more as a national celebration than a local one. Either way I'm generally quite a boring person so even if there were any special local celebrations I'd probably not participate in the celbrating itself.

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lussebullen's picture
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lussebullen 7 November, 2015 - 12:50

We have quite a few. The one that we celebrate the most is probably midsummer. We celebrate midsummer because it is the longest day of the year. When we are celebrating it, we dance around a pole that is covered in flowers and we eat raw herring and salmon, cooked potatoes, cake with a lot of whipped cream and strawberries and even more. In Sweden I think most of us find it a nice celebration, but those who live abroad and come to Sweden during the holiday probably think that it is a quite unusual celebration.

The we also have, valborg, the waffle day, the cinnamon bun day, the semla day and even more.

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cupcake123's picture
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cupcake123 7 November, 2015 - 12:25

Well, I think the funniest thing we have here is midsummer. I do not mean that it is my favorite, or that it is the funniest thing to celebrate, but I think it looks really funny when all these people are dancing like frogs and all of that. I have seen interviews with Swedish celebrities, and when they try to explain midsummer, people do not always believe it, because it sounds so silly and funny.

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Paula2205's picture
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Paula2205 7 November, 2015 - 12:18

I live in Sweden but will not talk about celebrations like Midsummer or Valborgsmässoafton. I'm going a lot more local. In the small town where I live, we have a tradition called Ankracet (the duck race). Basically it's like a lottery. A quite odd lottery. You can buy a tickets: 1 ticket = 1 rubber duck. All the ducks are numbered and released at the same time in a small river. Citizens of the town are located by the river all the way from the start to the finish line. The first few ducks to finish get a prize. This event happens once a year, and is quite fun!

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JoEditor's picture
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JoEditor 7 November, 2015 - 19:31

Hi Paula22015,
Thanks a lot for telling us about the duck race. That sounds like good fun! It seems you have lots of great celebrations in Sweden, thank you all for sharing them with us. 
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

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CheckpointKalle's picture
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CheckpointKalle 6 November, 2015 - 14:48

There's a celebration in Sweden (that has already been mentioned a several times) called Valbergsmässoafton, where Swedes all over the country gather lots of wood and light it up in bonfires when the darkness falls. Valbergsmässoafton take place the 30th of april to celebrate the spring. In Lund a lot of youths gather in the municipal park where they get drunk, throw up and then litter all over the place. It seems really stupid to me.

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Joh00's picture
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Joh00 6 November, 2015 - 14:00

We celebrate midsummer in Sweden. It might look weird to people who aren't from around here since we for example dance around a so called midsummer-pole.

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Husmusen100's picture
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Husmusen100 6 November, 2015 - 12:29

I live in Sweden. The only Swedish celebration is probably midsommar. We celebrate that it is the longest day of the year. We also celebrate St Lucia. It is originally an Italian celebration but it is very big in Sweden as well. We wear white dresses and sing songs. You walk in line in a special order. They girl in the front represents Lucia and she has a crown of candles in her hair.

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