Talk:there

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rfd-sense: (in conjunction with verb be) In existence or in this world; mention of unspecified location, somewhere.

there is something amiss.

This doesn't seem right. Other dictionaries call this kind of usage a pronoun, which seems better to me. See there#Pronoun. DCDuring TALK 18:06, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Not really a pronoun, either. I'd lean towards calling it a preposed adverb. Consider:
There is something I'd like to say.
In the letter is something I'd like to say.
This helps (a little) to show that there is not functioning as the subject in the first example. It's merely a sentence order inversion from:
Something I'd like to say is there.
--EncycloPetey 18:40, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
It definitely originates as a preposed adverb, as you say, but its current usage seems to me to have spread out a bit. Firstly, there's certainly been semantic bleaching (consider e.g. "There's something odd here" — or for that matter, "In the letter there's something I'd like to say"); secondly, it's used in cases where I think any other preposed adverb would sound odd (consider e.g. "I expected there to be a problem", "He demanded there be an inquiry"); thirdly, many speakers have granted it singular status regardless of its complement (e.g., "there was an apple and a clock on the table"), and in AAVE it can sometimes (always?) be replaced with "it" (e.g., "people tell me it ain't no way", which I heard on the street last night). —RuakhTALK 18:54, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
And all of that can be explained by adverbial status, yes? The additional sentences you've given are still inversion of normal sentence order ("I expected there to be a problem." vs "I expected a problem to be there.") Contraction with the verb is not limited to one part of speech: "The boy's insane!" (noun); "Larry's gone home." (proper noun); "He's not here." (pronoun); "Now's the time to act." (adverb); "Clean's better than dirty" (adjective); "Never again's my motto." (phrase).
The question of "always singular" can be interpreted as "invariant because it's an adverb". Incorrect verb agreement is not limited to this expression, as I often hear manglings such as "We was late," or "None of you walk away now!" Using a singular verb when a plural form is traditionally used is a general phenomenon independent of the use of there. --EncycloPetey 23:44, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
So you would argue that in each of the following pairs, both versions are equally acceptable (or equally unacceptable, in the case of the last one)? :
  • There's something odd here. vs. Here's something odd there.
  • I expected there to be a problem. vs. I expected here to be a problem.
  • He demanded there be an inquiry. vs. He demanded here be an inquiry.
  • [pointing at a photograph] There's us. vs. We's right there.
If so, I suspect that you and I must spend time with very different sorts of people. (Note: I'm not specifically saying that it's not an adverb; I don't know for sure. It seems almost meaningless to apply terms like "adverb" and "pronoun" to a single use of a given grammatical word, when no other word shares its grammar. What I am saying is that I think that for many speakers of Standard American English, this usage is simply an expletive subject with delayed semantic subject, just like "it" in "It's well known that the sky is blue." This makes it very tempting to label it a pronoun, since English's only other expletive subject is a pronoun, and it definitely feels more natural to classify a subject as a pronoun than as an adverb.)
RuakhTALK 00:22, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
If we permitted English words to be classified as "Particle", then that's where I'd prefer to see this go. Failing that, I prefer "adverb" (which is a very nebulous category) because it is so closely tied to the verb, and because the label of "Adverb" permits a broader range of functions than does "Pronoun". Oh, and yes, I have indeed heard people say "We's right there," or "There's us," although fortunately not so often now that I live in a different area. --EncycloPetey 01:17, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree that "particle" would be best. And yes, I've also heard both "we's right there" and "there's us", but I really don't see how you can view them as equally (un)acceptable. To me "there's us" is semi-acceptable in some instances and completely acceptable, albeit informal, in others ("Who all is coming?" "Well, let's see … there's the Smiths … there's the Joneses … there's us, of course … and … um, I'm not sure who else."), whereas "we's right there" is always quite unacceptable. (If I were a prescriptivist, I think I'd call "there's us" something like "O.K. in colloquial speech", and "we's right there" something like "please retake kindergarten".) —RuakhTALK 01:25, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
So I've thought about it further, and I think you may be right that insofar as we can't use "particle", "adverb" is more accurate than "pronoun"; there's not a clear line between usages like "there you are", where "there" is clearly adverb-like (specifically, I think it's an intransitive preposition), and usages like "there's many books there", where it seems to have ventured off the worn path of any POS. I mean, these two uses are very different from each other, but you can devise a fairly continuous walk from "there you are" to "there’s the book I was reading" to "there's the book I was reading" to "there's a book I was reading" to "there's a book there" to "there's many books there", and it's really impossible to say where on this path it stopped being an adverb and started being a pronoun. Or rather, it's too possible: any step seems reasonable, but none seems convincing. —RuakhTALK 18:13, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Is "it" also a "preposed adverb" by this logic? Somehow the etymology seems more important than usage in this classification decision. And we seem to be in disagreement with prevailing lexicographic practice. DCDuring TALK 18:44, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm not really referring to the etymology, but rather to the entire range of current uses, which includes everything from original and obviously-adverbial (or whatever) uses to ???!!!-ial uses that, according to your comment below, cispondian dictionaries call pronominal and transpondian ones adverbial.
As I said above, usage doesn't really support any POS very well. There is no POS that exhibits this sort of behavior. AFAIK English has exactly two expletive subjects: it (otherwise a personal pronoun), and there (otherwise an adverb/adjective/preposition/something). Neither one's expletive use is really predictable from its non-expletive use; and this would hardly be the first time that words of two different parts of speech have overlapping grammar (cf. adjectives and attributive nouns).
Overall, I really hate our need to discretely identify a word's languages, parts of speech, etymologies, etc. These things are not always discrete.
I'm happy to follow cispondian dictionaries in including a pronoun sense — that's certainly more convenient, as it gives us more room in which to explain the range of uses — but I don't see why we can't also follow transpondian dictionaries in listing it as an adverb. ("In existence; see pronoun section below.")
RuakhTALK 19:45, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
That would be fine. I see that some "there [copula]" usage can have more than a hint of adverbial "placeness". Longmans DCE strikes me as a leader in grammar and usage presentation in a dictionary. That they choose to have the pronoun PoS is meaningful and makes it less of a cis-/trans- thing. DCDuring TALK 20:36, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Longman's also has an "in existence" sense under adverb, with these three clearly-non-pronoun example sentences:
The chance was there, but I didn't take it.
The countryside is there for everyone to enjoy.
Three months after the operation, the pain was still there.
These share the semantic bleaching, but not the grammar, of the "there is ___" uses.
RuakhTALK 20:45, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
It wouldn't have occurred to me to try to call those usages pronominal, related though they are semantically. They seem to me to behave more like most normal, boring adverbs. DCDuring TALK 22:31, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
I believe you've mis-read Ruakh's comments. Those instances are marked as "adverb" in Longman. --EncycloPetey 17:35, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
Longmans is a leader, yes, but that does not mean that they always make the best choices. I've been trying to decide why the "semantic coloring" argument does sit well with me, and have finally figured out why. Consider the reversibility / non-reversibility of the following parallel constructions:
* "There is an old house on the hill." / "An old house on the hill is there."
* "It is an old house on the hill." / "An old house on the hill is it."
* "Green Gables is an old house on the hill." / "An old house on the hill is Green Gables."
* "Decaying is an old house on the hill." / "An old house on the hill is decaying."
* "Scary is an old house on the hill." / "An old house on the hill is scary."
The first of each pair only sounds right for the first three. The fourth pair's first half sounds odd, and in the fifth pair, the first half of that pair has grammar that would only be found in a fortune cookie. So, an adjective or participle doesn't work for reversibility. In similar fashion, the latter half of the second and third pairs sound wrong. Neither a pronoun nor adjective works properly in the predicate position.
The question, then, is whether the first pair is a reversal in which the meaning is truly preserved, or whether there truly is a shift in the meaning and/or emphasis. I haven't fully decided how I come down on that issue. I can see both as having the same meaning, but perhaps not. Sometimes the second half of the first pair sounds normal, but it can also come out like Yoda-speak. It does seem a bit of an archaic form to me. --EncycloPetey 17:33, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure that I understand, but I'd like to. I think I agree with your readings of the naturalness of all of the sentences above. As to "there": to me the "place" senses could be considered adverbial in all cases. The usages that don't seem to fit are most clearly seen in: "There is a certain something about him that I really like." There_(!!!) could be pointing involved, but not plausibly. "Something there is that doesn't love a wall."
In some of the real cases involving what I consider the quasi-pronominal usage of "there", ambiguity remains because the sentences can be read with a "place" sense. But many cases have left behind even the most virtual kind of spatiality.
In "There is an old house on the hill.", "there" could be about "place", but it is more likely about existence. For it to be about place, it would need extra stress on "there". Then it might be equivalent to "An old house on the hill is there.", which doesn't seem very natural unless "there" is accompanied by physical pointing or is read as equivalent to "An old house-on-the-hill is there." (or "An old-house-on-the-hill is there.") DCDuring TALK 19:12, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
Could there have been a pondian cleavage in labeling this. Tellingly, Cambridge American calls it a pronoun; Cambridge Advanced Learners shows the same usage as adverb. Oxford shows adverb. Longmans shows pronoun, as does Collins. Webster's 1913 shows both, but is reticent about calling it a pronoun as was Webster's 1828. Webster's 1828 expresses a somewhat reluctant acceptance of this "meaningless" usage. The other American dictionaries show pronoun, if they cover it (as WNW does not). I suppose that the label doesn't much matter, but keeping it an adverb gives more weight to etymology and Chaucerian usage than to the nature of current usage. DCDuring TALK 19:36, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Then, I did not have a copy of CGEL. Now I do. They call it a pronoun, both when used with be and in its other non-locative uses, into which they classify "There remain many problems.".

Let me remind all of Oakland, California of which Gertrude Stein reportedly said: "There is not there there.". It is beyond my pay grade to read this as three locative theres. Let there no more debate about this subject here on this page. DCDuring TALK 20:44, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

Kept.RuakhTALK 13:41, 18 December 2009 (UTC)


"They just do there jobs."[edit]

A horrific mistake, which I always see in forums. May it be useful to include it into the article that there is often confused with their even by native speakers? Reason: see article your, where the your / you're confusion is also explained in the article, hence my concern...-andy 217.50.43.11 20:08, 23 December 2010 (UTC)