Subject Material

Anticipatory IT OR THERE

Published: 16.02.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
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We use it when talking about the weather, time, measures and distance:
It is very cold tonight.

It functions as an anticipatory subject for
an infinitive: It is nice to work with you.
an -ing-form: It is good seeing you.
a finite clause: It is astonishing that he refused the offer.


We use there plus a form of to be when in Norwegian we want to say that something exists or is. If we can replace ’det er/det var (ikke)’ by ’det finnes/fantes (ikke)’, we must use there is/was (not) in English.

In such cases there is an anticipatory subject for the real subject (underlined in these examples), which brings something new into the text.

  • There is a snake in my garden.
  • There is a button on that machine which you can press.
  • There are many people here who can neither read nor write.

See the notes in section 4C also: 4C - The Clause Level 

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