The empty subjects there and it



It is time for another free English lesson! In today’s free English lesson, we will be looking at something called empty subjects. You all know them, use them frequently, but maybe you don’t know that they are called empty subjects. Well, what are empty subjects?

how to use the empty subjects it and there

Empty subjects are there and it, used in structures such as There is…, There are…, It is…  There + be expresses the fact that something exists or happens, while we use It + be to identify or describe something.

Empty Subjects, English grammar lesson

Let’s discuss the use of there in details..

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The use of there

  • To point out the existence of something, use there.

There’s someone at the door.

  • In structures with the empty subject there, we often use an adverbial in end position.

There’s a party next week, and you’re invited.


  • But you can also use there + be without an adverbial. This can happen especially with nouns expressing a situation or an event.

I’m afraid there’s a problem. (=A problem exists.)

  • We normally use there + be before a noun phrase which is new information.

There’s a book on the table.

There are some people waiting for you.

  • The verb be agrees with the noun phrase that comes after it.

There is someone at the door waiting for you.

There are some books on sale.

  • We form negatives and questions with there in the normal way.

There wasn’t anything to eat.

Are there any new books for sale?

  •  You can also use no + noun to form a negative.

There were no people in the house.

  • You can also use there in a question tag.

There’s a meeting next week, isn’t there?

  • You can put an active or passive participle after the noun phrase.

There’s someone at the door waiting for you. (=Someone is at the door waiting for you.)

There was a car parked in front of the house. (A car was parked in front of the house.)

Along with these, you can also use there with other verbs.

  • The subject there is used mostly with the verb be. However, you can use it with some other verbs, but this happens only in a formal or literary style.

The next day there occurred a strange incident.

 Verbs in this structure include: appear, arise, arrive, come, emerge, enter, exist, follow, lie, live, occur, remain, result, sit, stand, take place.

  •  You can sometimes use another verb between there and be.

There doesn’t seem to be enough room for this furniture.

Verbs in this structure are: appear, chance, happen, prove, seem, tend, turn out, use.

  • You can sometimes leave out to be after seem, especially before a phrase with little or no.

There seems (to be) no reason for a discussion.


Let’s go on to the use of it...


The empty subject it

  • It is used to refer to the time, distance, the environment, or the weather.

It’s half past ten.

It was cold in the morning.

Look at this example.

To see you with another woman is very painful.

Usually, we use it as the subject, and the clause comes at the end of the sentence. So, the sentence would look like this: It is very painful to see you with another woman.


  • It is very often used as the object of a sentence.

I find it difficult to make new friends.

  • It can also be an empty subject before appear, happen, seem, and turn out.

It seems the power went out.

You can also use a structure with:

 it looks as if

it looks as though

it seems as if

it seems as though

It looks as if it’s going to rain.


That’s it!

Simple and easy to remember!

Have fun! :)

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