Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Introductory there and it – Diagnose Test, Grammar Explanation & Practice Exercises
A DIAGNOSTIC TEST: Introductory there and it
Complete the sentences with it or there (and a suitable form of be if necessary).
In the state of Texas alone…there are…. thought to be more than thirty prisoners on death row.
She found …it…. strange that he never talked about his childhood.
- Once upon a time……….. an old woman who lived in a shoe.
- During tomorrow’s show………… an interval of fifteen minutes. than thirty prisoners on death row.
- Luckily, ………… not any difficulty finding the shop yesterday.
- ……………….. a long way to the beach from here.
- ‘Which street is it?’ ‘……………….. the first one on the left.’
- ………………. seems to be something wrong with my modem.
- Strange weather for June; …………………… freezing today!
- ……………………. hardly any fuel left in the car.
- The army doesn’t anticipate…………………. much opposition from the rebel forces.
- …………….. looks as though our team’s going to win, after all.
- ………………… supposed to be several ticket machines outside the station.
- Given the right monetary conditions, ……………. theoretically possible to achieve zero inflation.
- From the swirling mist…………… emerged a mysterious cloaked figure.
- If the reorganisation goes ahead……………… sure to be a lot of opposition from the sales force.
- I leave……………. to your conscience to decide whether to report the matter.
- Frankly, ……………. not surprising that they were expelled.
- We would appreciate ………….. if you wouldn’t say anything about this to the children.
- Well, Mr Green, ……………. nothing wrong with the heating element so perhaps we’d better look at the pump.
- Hello, ………… Azco Market Research here; I wonder if you’d have a few minutes to take part in our telephone poll?
- The ministry didn’t expect ……………. quite such a negative reaction from farmers.
B GRAMMAR EXPLANATION: Introductory there and it
In this unit we look at the use of it and there as ’empty’ subjects to introduce new information or the main content of a sentence. We can also use them to manipulate the position of subjects, objects and clauses in sentences. This allows us to describe or report things in an indirect way and to create a more impersonal style often found in formal English.
- INTRODUCTORY THERE
We use there as an ‘empty’ subject + is/are to introduce new information and/or to say that something exists or happens:
If you’re looking for a café: there’s one opposite the station. (new information)
[Fifty-one states exist in the USA] There are fifty-one states in the USA.
[Three murders happen in the film.] There are three murders in the film.
[Is a bank situated near here?] Is there a bank near here?
We often use there is/ are to introduce or describe a character or place, or to ‘set the scene’ when telling a story or joke:
At the top of the hill there’s a small café with wonderful views over the bay.
There’s an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman who go into a bar …..
Note: There is/are is usually followed by an indefinite noun phrase, not a definite noun phrase:
X In the hotel lobby there is the cash machine (definite noun phrase)
✓ In the hotel lobby there is a cash machine (indefinite noun phrase)
But we can use there is/ are with definite noun phrases when we are reminding someone of something we/they already know, or pointing something out:
✓ Don’t forget there’s a/the cash machine in the lobby if you run out of money. (reminding somebody of something you/they know)
✓ Look, there’s a/the cash machine, next to the porter’s desk. (pointing something out)
We can use all forms of be after there, including modal forms:
Once upon a time there were three little bears.
There will be an interval of twenty minutes during the performance.
There must have been a thousand applicants for the post.
The form of be agrees with the complement:
There is only one answer to this question.
There were two ways out of the building.
Note: But in conversational English, we sometimes use there is with a plural complement:
There’s two ways we can do this.
1C. Special patterns
There + be can be followed by a noun + participle phrase :
There’s a strange old man sitting in the corner
There are two scales of temperature used in science.
Note: When we are describing a single action we use a full relative clause:
X In 1755 there was an earthquake destroyed much of Lisbon
✓ In 1755 there was an earthquake which destroyed much of Lisbon
In formal English, verbs with future meaning, e.g. anticipate, expect, envisage, intend, can be followed by there + to be/ being.
The organisers didn’t expect (there to be) quite such an overwhelming response.
We don’t anticipate (there being) any resistance from the anti-hunting lobby.
1D. Words and expressions after there (+ be)
We commonly use there (+ be) with the following words and expressions:
|there + be + quantifiers (any, some, much, many, several, etc.)||Are there any more issues outstanding?
There are several ways we can tackle this.
|there + be + indefinite pronouns ( somebody, nothing, etc.)||I’ve had a good look and there’s nothing to report.
Isn’t there somebody here who can help us?
|there + be + bound/ certain/ expected/ likely /sure/ supposed + to be||If the government goes ahead there’s sure to be on outcry from the miners.
Hang on, there was supposed to be a television in the room.
|there + be + problem/ difficulty /
trouble + -ing form
|X There won’t be any trouble to get back
✓ There won’t be any trouble getting back.
|there + appear/ happen/ seem(s)/ tend/ used + to be||There used to be a house at the end of the common.
Researchers noticed that there tends to be a higher number of influenza cases in warm winters.
|there + a passive reporting verb (e.g. is said to be, is thought to be) + an indefinite noun phrase (This is used to describe a general feeling or belief.)||There are thought to be several other senior officers implicated in the cover-up.
In Zaire alone, there are believed to be more than a million sufferers of the disease.
|In formal written English we can use there + arise/ arrive/ come/ emerge/ enter/ exist/ follow/ live/ occur/ remain/ result/ sit/ stand/ take place||Deep inside her there arose a desperate hope.
At the crime scene there remained little in the way of physical evidence.
There follows a full list of our current terms and conditions of trading.
- INTRODUCTORY/ IMPERSONAL IT
We can use it as an ‘empty’ subject. This is a grammatical device to introduce or identify something later in the phrase. It is followed by a definite noun phrase :
‘Who’s that?’ It’s Alan.’
Hello, it’s Steve here. Could I speak to Jane?
‘What’s worrying you?’ It’s the children.’
It can refer to one or many things, but grammatically it is always singular:
X It are Alan and Margaret at the door.
✓ It’s Alan and Margaret at the door.
We use it + be to introduce information about the following topics:
|weather/environment||It’ll be cold in Edinburgh at this time of year.
It was damp and foggy in London that autumn.
|time/date||It is eight o’clock in the morning.
Thank goodness it’s Friday today.
|conditions/situation||It’s so quiet and peaceful here.
It was becoming increasingly dangerous.
|distance||It’s quite a long way to the nearest town.|
2B. Common expressions with it
We use if before seems as if/ though and looks as if/ though to describe impressions and probability:
It seems as if we’ve known each other for gears. (This is my impression.)
It looks as though I’m going to fail the test. (I think it’s probable.)
We can also use it as an ‘empty’ object after certain verbs to introduce a following clause:
|Like/ hate/ love + it + when/ that clause (This is used to describe likes and dislikes.)||I hate it when people stare at me.
We love it when the grandchildren come over.
|would appreciate it + if clause
(This is used to make a polite request. )
|I would appreciate it if you could fax your response
as a matter of urgency
|Owe/ leave it to somebody + infinitive clause||We owe it to him to try and find a resolution.
We leave it to you to suggest a suitable date.
|think / find / consider + it
phrase + that clause
|I find it intolerable that we have no recourse in law.
He thought it a pity that they hadn’t contributed to the fund.
I consider it in your own best interests that you leave
2C. Impersonal it
We sometimes want to describe our attitudes, feelings and opinions without mentioning ourselves directly. We can use it + be as an impersonal way to introduce these phrases. This is less direct than sentences beginning with I think/ feel / believe and allows us to present opinions as though they were impersonal general feelings or even objective facts. We also use this device in academic writing where there is a convention that ideas should be presented in an impersonal way.
There are several patterns that we use:
|it + be + adjective + – ing form
(We use this in informal English.)
|It was lovely meeting you at last.|
|it + be + adjective + that clause||It isn’t surprising that she left you.
It is remarkable that so few of the patients suffered side effects.
|it + be + adjective + infinitive clause||It’s wonderful to sit out here under the stars
It was possible to recognise regularities in the patterns of soil distribution.
|it + verb or modal verb phrase (usually passive) + that clause
(We use this in formal written English
|It has been shown that most of the patients improved noticeably.
It should be noted that the majority of the responses were positive.
It + a passive reporting verb describes impersonal or general feelings. It also allows us to report someone’s words without mentioning the speaker/s. We use a verb clause after the verb, not a noun phrase :
It was said (that) he was innocent.
It is believed (that) the rebels are about to attack the capital.
2D. Uses of it in discourse
If the subject of a sentence is a long clause we can use it as an ’empty’ subject so that we can put the long subject at the end:
It was hard to believe that he had behaved so appallingly. (= That he had behaved so appallingly was hard to believe.)
This device also helps us put new information in the end focus position :
It really hurts me to be going away (= To be going away really hurts me.)
It can also be an ’empty’ object anticipating a later clause. This allows us to combine several pieces of information into one sentence, again putting new information at the end:
We leave it to the reader to appreciate what this will mean. (= The reader can appreciate what this will mean. We leave it to the reader to do this.)
She thought it a pity/ sad that he hadn’t joined in the festivities. (= He hadn’t joined in the festivities. She thought that was a pity.)
Note: We don’t usually use it as an ’empty’ object when the main verb is not followed by an adjective or by a noun or preposition phrase:
X She thought it that he hadn ‘t joined in the festivities.
✓ She thought that he hadn’t joined in the festivities.
We also use it to introduce cleft sentences:
It isn’t just his outlandish sense of humour that I’m complaining about.
C PRACTICE EXERCISE
Rewrite the following sentences using there.
0 Such a strong reaction was not anticipated by the protestors.
……. The protestors did not expect there to be such a strong reaction……
00 Getting a visa won’t be difficult.
…….There won’t be any difficulty getting a visa………
1 More than a million species of insects exist in the world.
2 A grandfather clock was ticking in the background.
3 At Hiroshima in 1945 an event happened which shook the whole world.
4 Two further suspects are thought to be under arrest.
5 They are bound to react badly to the news.
6 A statement by the Prime Minister now follows.
7 Present in the compound were two forms of amino acid.
8 Does Osaka have an underground railway?
9 A massive sell-off of high-tech shares is likely in the next few days.
10 From the middle of the forest emerged a strange hooded figure.
11 In this case, securing a conviction should be no trouble.
12 Is nobody here able to help us?
13 Illustrated in our brochure are ten new holiday destinations.
14 A Do you have a buffet car on the train?
15 In this bad weather a poor turnout for the election is certain.
16 Hanging over the bed was a beautiful antique tapestry.
17 People think at least two leading politicians are involved in the scandal.
18 We don’t envisage any adverse reaction from viewers.
This text can be improved by rewriting one sentence from each paragraph with impersonal/ introductory it. Underline the sentences that can be improved and rewrite them. The first one has been done as an example.
by Alex Garland
Now a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
People say that somewhere in the tropical waters of Asia there is a perfect beach on an uninhabited island. Rich in animal and plant life, surrounded by virgin jungle and watered by sweet underground springs, the beach could be the setting for an idyllic and easy life.
The Beach is the story of a young man who yearns for, seeks out and eventually finds just such a place. But to discover that far from being the source of contentment and inner fulfilment that he expects, the beach turns out to be a place of savage violence, terror and death, comes as a shock.
Alex Garland takes the reader on an exotic journey from the steaming tourist-packed dives of the Khao San Road in Bangkok to the drug-infested islands of the remote seas around Thailand. Not to be impressed by the author’s skill in describing the unfamiliar oriental locations and his ability to empathise with the obsessions of today’s young backpacking ’new-age’ travellers is difficult.
Taking in illegal drug plantations, memories of the Vietnam war, sexual jealousy, shark- infested waters, the psychological dynamics of communal living and the clash of cultures, Garland spins a tale which both seduces and shocks the reader. What gives the novel its ‘haunting sense of unease and horror is the author’s unique blend of these disparate elements.
It is a thriller with all the traditional ingredients, an exotic location, a central mystery, good versus evil, and dangers around every corner. There is a strong sense of good and evil in the book, but to decide who is right and who is wrong Garland leaves to the reader. There are few moral certainties in this exotic corner of the world.
Events untold at great speed, and be warned, to put this book down once you have started it is impossible. With an international cast of well-observed characters Garland creates a nail-biting narrative that keeps the reader hooked until the final bloody climax.
It is said that somewhere in the tropical waters of Asia there is a perfect beach on an uninhabited island.
For each of the sentences below, write a new sentence as similar as possible in meaning to the original sentence, but using a form of it or there and the word given. This word must not be altered in any way. The exercise begins with an example (0).
0 I think Steve might win the race.
though ……It looks as though Steve might win the race…….
1 Such an overwhelming demand for tickets wasn’t anticipated by the organisers.
2 She may well marry him.
3 People think many other politicians are involved in the scandal.
4 I would like you to send me your up-to-date retail price list.
5 Fifty students applied for the scholarship.
6 They say he hates publicity.
7 We’re not surprised that their children are so badly behaved.
8 In this paper we will demonstrate that DNA strands can be replicated.
9 We are selling twelve detached houses with double garages on this estate.
10 To be nominated for this award makes me feel greatly honoured.
Eight of these short extracts from conversations at a museum would be improved with the use of it or there. Two of the extracts do not need to be changed. Tick (✓) these two extracts, then rewrite the others.
DAVE How far’s the cafe from here?
GUIDE The distance isn’t far; you’ll find it at the other end of the Egyptian Gallery.
GUIDE Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Gutenburg Bible. People believe this is the first book to be printed in Europe.
JACK Isn’t this the head of Queen Nefertiti?
MARY Yes. She was the aunt of Tutankhamun.
KARL Do you have many Impressionist paintings here?
GUIDE Yes. more than thirty examples hang in the East wing.
JACK What an amazing statue.
MARY That Rodin produced such a superb piece of work all by himself is hard to believe.
DAVE This fifteenth-century portrait looks brand new!
SUE Yes, the impression is that the painting has been rather over-enthusiastically restored.
GUIDE On your left you will see a fine example of late Renaissance sculpture.
JACK You know Van Gogh never sold a single painting.
MARY I’m really surprised that people didn’t appreciate his genius during his lifetime.
DAVE We’ve been here two hours and we’re not even halfway round the museum.
SUE I know, but to see everything in one trip is impossible.
KARL Which one’s the Titian, Jane?
JANE The Titian is in that place, next to the sculpture.
The words it or there are missing from eleven of these sentences. Tick (✓) the sentences which are correct and rewrite the others with it or there in the correct place.
1 She found strange that he’d never heard of such a famous historical character.
2 Was really such a long wait between trains?
3 We always have lots of visitors but tend to be more in the summer months.
4 Rarely were such extreme methods required.
5 The director leaves to the viewer to decide who is guilty and who is innocent.
6 They assured us that would be no trouble getting a refund if the goods were faulty.
7 It wasn’t their behaviour that annoyed me, but their attitude.
8 You know really gets on my nerves when she talks like that.
9 Commonly believed myths are not necessarily true.
10 What’s incredible is that might have been so many more fatalities.
11 I find impossible to conceive that someone with his track record would be so careless.
12 In 1666 was a fire which destroyed a large part of London.
13 We would appreciate if you submitted your estimate to our head office.
14 Getting to the airport on time is the least of our worries.
15 Grandpa loves when the children ask for his advice.
D ANSWER KEY FOR DIAGNOSTIC TEST
1 there was
2 there will be
3 there was
9 there being
11 There are
12 it is
14 there is
16 it is
20 there to be
E ANSWER KEY FOR PRACTICE EXERCISE
1 There are more than a million species of insect in the world.
2 There was a grandfather clock ticking in the background.
3 At Hiroshima in 1945 there was an event which shook the whole world.
4 There are thought to be two further suspects under arrest.
5 There is bound to be a bad reaction to the news (from them).
6 There now follows/ There will now be a statement by the Prime Minister.
7 There were two forms of amino acid present in the compound./ Present in the compound there were two forms of amino acid.
8 Is there an underground railway in Osaka?
9 There is likely to be a massive sell off of high- tech shares in the next few days.
10 From the middle of the forest there emerged a strange hooded figure./There emerged a strange hooded figure from the middle of the forest.
11 In this case, there should be no trouble securing a conviction.
12 Is there nobody here able to help us?/ls there nobody here who can help us?
13 There are ten new holiday destinations illustrated in our brochure.
14 Is there a buffet car on the train?
15 In this bad weather there is certain to be a poor turnout for the election ./There is certain to be a poor turnout for the election in this bad weather.
16 There was a beautiful antique tapestry hanging over the bed.
17 There are thought to be at least two leading politicians involved in the scandal.
18 We don’t envisage there being any adverse reaction from viewers.
(Suggested rewriting in italics)
The Beach is the story of a young man who yearns for, seeks out and eventually finds just such a place. But it comes as a shock to discover that, far from being the source of contentment and inner fulfilment that he expects, the beach turns out to be a place of savage violence, terror and death.
Alex Garland takes the reader on an exotic journey from the steaming tourist- packed dives of the Khao San Road in Bangkok to the drug-infested islands of the remote seas around Thailand. It is difficult not to be impressed by the author’s skill in describing the unfamiliar oriental locations and his ability to empathise with the obsessions of today’s young backpacking ‘new-age’ travellers.
Taking in illegal drug plantations, memories of the Vietnam war, sexual jealousy, shark-infested waters, the psychological dynamics of communal living and the clash of cultures. Garland spins a tale which both seduces and shocks the reader. It is the author’s unique blend of these disparate elements which gives the novel its haunting sense of unease and horror.
It is a thriller with all the traditional ingredients, an exotic location, a central mystery, good versus evil, and dangers around every corner. There is a strong sense of good and evil in the book, but Garland leaves it to the reader/ but it is left to the reader to decide who is right and who is wrong. There are few moral certainties in this exotic corner of the world.
Events unfold at great speed, and be warned, it is impossible to put this book down once you have started it. With an international cast of well-observed characters Garland creates a nail-biting narrative that keeps the reader hooked until the final bloody climax.
1 The organisers didn’t anticipate there being such an overwhelming demand for tickets.
2 It seems (as if/ as though) she’s going to marry him./ It seems she may marry him.
3 There are thought to be many other politicians involved in the scandal. It is thought that there are many other politicians involved in the scandal.
4 I would appreciate it if you would/could send me/if you sent me your up-to-date retail price list.
5 There were fifty applicants for the scholarship.
6 It is said he hates publicity.
7 It isn’t surprising that their children are so badly behaved.
8 In this paper it will be demonstrated that DNA strands can be replicated.
9 There are twelve detached houses with double garages for sale on this estate.
10 It is a great honour to be nominated for this award.
1 The distance isn’t- far => It isn’t far
2 People believe this is => It is believed to be
4 more than thirty examples hang => there are more than thirty examples
5 That Rodin produced such a superb piece of work all by himself is hard to believe => It is hard to believe that Rodin produced such a superb piece of work all by himself.
6 the impression is that the painting => it looks/ seems as if/as though the painting
8 I’m really surprised => It’s (really) surprising
9 to see everything in one trip is impossible => it’s impossible to see everything in one trip.
10 in that place => there
1 She found it strange that he’d never heard of such a famous historical character.
2 Was there really such a long wait between trains?
3 We always have lots of visitors but there tend to be more in the summer months.
5 The director leaves it to the viewer to decide who is guilty and who is innocent.
6 They assured us that there would be no trouble getting a refund if the goods were faulty.
10 What’s incredible is that there might have been so many more fatalities.
11 I find it impossible to conceive that someone with his track record would be so careless.
12 In 1666 there was a fire which destroyed a large part of London.
13 We would appreciate it if you submitted your estimate to our head office.
15 Grandpa loves it when the children ask for his advice.
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