Using ‘There’

In English, we have three homonyms: there, their, they’re.

This discussion will discuss the adverb and exclamation word “there”.

1. Adverb:

There means in that location, away from here (in this location).
Here is near me. There is away from me.

  • Al: Where is it? Is it here?
    Bob: No, it’s over there.
    Oh, there it is (it is there).
  • Carl: I am moving to Nebraska.
    Dave: Why?
    Carl: I accepted a job at a nuclear plant there.
  • Dave: I stayed in China for four months.
    Ernie: Was it cold there?
    Dave: Yes, it was, much colder than here.

2. Exclamation:

There can mean “See, I was right!” or “It’s finished!”

  • Al: Eve won’t like it.
    Bob: Yes, she will.
    Al: No, she won’t.
    Bob: Hey, Eve! Do you like this?
    Eve: Yes, I love it!
    Bob to Al: There, I told you she would like it!
  • Al: There! It’s finished at last! Whew! That was a lot of work.

There, there” is a way of comforting someone who is upset or frustrated.

  • Al (upset): Darn it, Bob! You were right and I was wrong.
    Bob: There, there, Al, don’t worry about it. I’ve known Eve longer than you have.

3. Existence:

There is” or “there are” at the beginning of a sentence means “there exist(s) ___
in this world…” Other forms are “There have been ___…” and “There were ___”
(past tense; ___ existed in the past)

  • Fred: There are people in this world who hate dogs.
    Greg: No way! Everyone loves dogs!
    Fred: There, there, Greg. I know it’s hard to believe but I’m telling you that there are dog-haters in this world.
    Greg (slowly shaking his head side to side): Unbelievable!
  • Hal: There is no way to do this. (No way to do this exists in this world.)
    Ian: I disagree. There is a way that it can be done. You simply have to
    think outside the box.
  • Jill: Is there a way to move things using only your thoughts?
    Kyle: There are some people who believe so. There have been documented cases of people who have telekinetic powers.

4. Focus of attention:

“There” can refer to an aspect or point of attention or focus.

  • Lee: This is true for Case A and Case B, but not for Case C.
    Mike: Well, you have me there (in that case), Lee. I didn’t think about Case C.
  • Nate: See, he made a spelling mistake right there. (at that location in the sentence)
    Oscar: Yep, I see it.
  • Pete: After speaking three words, he stopped right there (at that point in his speech) as if he couldn’t remember his speech.
    Quin: I’ll bet that was embarrassing.
    Oh, yeah. There were giggles in the audience. There are always some people who take pleasure in other people’s embarrassment.
  • Tom: I think we need to talk about your finances.
    Ursula: Don’t go there (to that topic of discussion). What I do with my own money is my business, not yours!

5. Idiom:

“Been there, done that.” This is an informal expression that is used to say that you have experienced or are familiar with something and now think it is boring or of little worth.

  • Rob: I’m buying my first house! Yippee!
    Sid: Pfft, been there, done that. I’ve bought three houses in my lifetime. It’s no big deal. You just have to be willing to go deep into debt for the next 30 years.

  • Luciano has pointed out another idiomatic use of there:
    Lee: Hello, Luciano (bookstore owner). I would like to buy a book on idioms.
    Luciano: (He obtains a new book on idioms and hands it to me saying,)
    “There you are.” (or “There you go.”) This does NOT mean “You are there.” Instead it means I have just given you something that you requested from me.

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