There is / There are and It

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


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.


Mum: Hi, Oliver!
Oliver: Hi, Mum. Are you having a good time? Where are you now?
Mum: Can’t you remember? You have to guess then! I’ll give you some clues! It’s warm and sunny and it’s the city’s ‘fiesta’ week. There’s so much happening.
Oliver: Oh yeah, like what?
Mum: Well, when I arrived, there were fire-breathing dragons in the streets.
Oliver: Really?
Mum: Yeah, totally crazy. Hey, I’ll send you a photo.
Oliver: Wow, that looks a bit dangerous! Were there any accidents?
Mum: No, it seems to be quite normal here! They’re used to it. Now there are giants walking down the street.
Oliver: Uh-huh? Mum, are you sure you’re feeling OK?
Mum: Yes, love, look - there’s a photo coming!
Oliver: Cor! They’re huge!
Mum: And this morning I saw human castles. You know, where people climb on top of each other and make a tower. Then a little child climbs to the top. I was so nervous, just watching!
Oliver: I don’t get it! Photo, please!
Oliver: Wow! Look at that little girl at the top. Ahh! So, where are you?
Mum: Have a guess, Ollie.
Oliver: Oh I don’t know, Mum ... just tell me. Wherever you are I’m sure it’s better than being here. It’s raining and it’s dark and it’s only 6 o’clock.
Mum: Sorry, love. I am working though, you know! It’s not all fun and games.
Oliver: Yeah, right. So where are you?
Mum: Barcelona!
Oliver: Oh, Mum ... Barcelona? You said I could come with you next time!
Mum:  Oh, I know, next time for sure. I promise.
Oliver: Yeah, OK, Mum.
Mum: Tell Daisy I’ll call her later. Is there anything much going on at the moment?
Oliver: No, you know, Mum, there’s nothing new here! Just the same old London as always. Hey, Mum, I’ve got to go. See you Friday!
Mum: All right, love. Take care now.

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!



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

Average: 3.6 (14 votes)
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Submitted by ayhon on Mon, 08/07/2023 - 10:22

In Tunisia we have many celebrations most of them related with our religion which is Islam and most Muslim countries share in the same celebration like "aid kabiir", it consists of slaughter sheep to give it as a gift to the god then we enjoy eating their meats with our family.

Submitted by cherry00 on Sat, 07/30/2022 - 10:53

Where I live there aren't unusual celebrations.
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Submitted by Capixt on Fri, 07/01/2022 - 17:13

In Guatemala we have two unusuals celebrations one is "The Holy Week" we make processions and carpets with sawdust and food, I guess here we have the most biggest carpet in the world and it is all of sawdust and food. And then we have the "Day of the dead" In November, in that celebration all the families get together to eat "Fiambre" this is a typical food from Guatemala, that we only eat once at year in November first, and in the same day some families go to Santiago Sacatepéquez to see the gillants kites festival.

Submitted by 321565 on Wed, 03/02/2022 - 07:36

Yes, where I live there is a unusual local celebration. There is Holy Week and it is very traditional around the country, but in Tancanhuitz SLP it has the essence of the Huasteca Potosina. In these days, (from Holy Wednesday to Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday) you can go out into the street and meet guys dressed up, (as in Halloween or xantholo) throwing buckets of water at anyone who find on their way. Finally, they carry out a competition of statues of Judas (known as the quema de toritos) made with gunpowder, so that later the winning statue is burned in the presence of all the visitors. most people say that this is part of the culture and history of the community, but some of they say that this celebration harms the hearing sense of the people who present it.

Submitted by Ema_tavo on Tue, 08/31/2021 - 12:43

No they aren't, in Italy we don't have any.

Submitted by LOVE25 on Fri, 07/02/2021 - 00:37

In Matehuala for more than 80 years, stalls have been established where charamuscas of different shapes, colors, sizes and figures are offered to consumers. This handmade sweet is made by hand that achieves the belonging of all Matehualenses and the representation of the highlands. Also, a few years ago the use of pointed boots called "tribal boots" became a trend. These were very common to find in clubs or discos. These boots were widely used by children, adolescents, and adults.

Submitted by Arivelde on Tue, 03/23/2021 - 19:50

Yes, where I live there is a very large amount of unusual celebrations. One of them is like a rodeo and it is very controversial around the contry. In this, a man on top of a horse run after a bull and have to "overthrow" it on the ground, sometimes the animal gets hurt but sometimes is the man...Some people say that those "rodeos" are part of the culture and historyof the country, but some of them say that this celebretion hurts the animals and the men who present it.
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Submitted by Cfvdv on Thu, 03/18/2021 - 14:57

Yes. Here where I live there is the Saint John´s Festival (São João), which is celebrated in June. What do we do in this festival? We burn a bonfire, and we eat corn foods around the fire, listening to regional musics. Because it is the harvest month of corn.

Submitted by Didik on Fri, 03/12/2021 - 21:46

Here is the country of carnival, which is mostly in feburary. But here we have also a very big festivity, in the end of june. Its Sant John´s festival. It celebretes the harvest of corn in the countryside. But aschualy we celebrate it everywhere in the country. We wear typical costumes and dance tipycal musics.

Submitted by hermione123 on Thu, 12/31/2020 - 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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Submitted by Giovannichoi on Mon, 08/10/2020 - 03:01

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.

Submitted by BttChiara on Tue, 05/19/2020 - 17:22

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!

Submitted by NuChio on Wed, 05/06/2020 - 18:25

yes, all the time

Submitted by MatildePace on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 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.

Submitted by Desy on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 15:09

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

Submitted by gattifederica on Wed, 03/25/2020 - 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.

Submitted by Ely on Wed, 03/25/2020 - 13:56

in my country there aren't unusual celebration
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Submitted by empty on Sun, 07/28/2019 - 09:30

In Iran there is a celebration called ( Fireworks Wednesday )

Submitted by giorgia_marchetti on Wed, 03/25/2020 - 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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Submitted by Youjiro on Fri, 02/01/2019 - 13:03

In my country ,There are on unusual celebration.We usually cerebrate birthday at house.
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