The word “there” is a commonly used word that can be difficult to classify because of the various roles it can play in a sentence. There can be used as an adverb, pronoun, noun, or adjective, and sometimes as an interjection. So, what’s the big deal about this word?
The truth is that it’s not always easy to determine how the word there is being used in a sentence. In fact, it can be downright confusing! So, in order to figure it out, you have to look closely at how it’s being used in context.
Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the word there shows up in a sentence as an expletive. If you’re not familiar with this term, allow me to explain. An expletive is an “extra word” that is not grammatically related to the rest of the sentence. Here’s an example sentence. Read it carefully and locate the simple subject:
There are some pencils in my desk drawer.
The word there is not the subject of the sentence; the simple subject is pencils. There is being used as an expletive and serves to get the sentence moving. Any time a sentence begins with the word there, the true subject will be farther on in the sentence, so don’t be fooled!
Another way to determine if the word there is being used as an expletive is to rewrite the sentence without using it. If you can rewrite it without losing any meaning, you will know you’re correct. Notice how the sentence meaning does not change when I leave out the word there:
Some pencils are in my desk drawer.
Study the following guide to help you understand how to label and classify the various roles of the word there. Then, remember that if it’s being used as the first word in a sentence, it could possibly be an expletive!