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The word "there" in this sentence doesn't seem to be necessary. But if it is there, what exactly is it? A noun? An adverb?

See there where the willow bends over the brook.

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closed as not a real question by tchrist, Mitch, MετάEd, StoneyB, Lunivore Nov 13 '12 at 0:20

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes, 'there' can be used as a noun (or arguably a pronoun) to refer to a location as a subject or object.

See there where the willow bends over the brook.

There is still a noun, and the direct object, in this sentence. The way you tell is, you can insert a comma:

See there, where the willow bends over the brook.

This is still correct, so "See there" must be the main clause of the sentence; where is acting as a subordinating conjunction rather than an adverb, and it's fine in English to use a subordinate clause to modify the direct object. A further check is to delete the clause:

See there.

Telegraphic perhaps, definitely requires context to make sense, but still a valid sentence.

Addendum: You can't say

*See there[,] which the willow bends over the brook.

because there requires where in this context. It is the same phenomenon as not being able to use which or that to refer to people:

*See the crowd, which are watching the stage.
See the crowd, who are watching the stage.

Soapbox: This seems to be yet another situation where schoolbook grammars mislead by trying to bend English to fit an analytic paradigm designed for Latin. Most words in English can play the role of at least two parts of speech (for instance, as a wise man once said, [nearly] all nouns can be verbed). In particular it might be analytically cleaner to merge the categories "adjective" and "adverb" and reconstrue the -ly suffix as an agreement marker rather than a derivation operator.

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While the argument about a cromulent reference is fine, in this case there is certainly not a noun -- as the presence of where, not which, shows. However, you did not quite say what pos it is. – Kris Nov 12 '12 at 4:29
@Kris: OED's primary definition is I - As a demonstrative adverb, but it does eventually get to III.11 as noun. That place; the (or a) place yonder. That seems credible to me here (in this place, so to speak! :) – FumbleFingers Nov 12 '12 at 5:13
@Zack: I changed OP's example because it was a bit "weird", but structurally it's the same thing. Sorry it messes up some of your references to the text - I don't think it invalidates your basic point, but maybe you might want to edit a bit. – FumbleFingers Nov 12 '12 at 5:17
@Kris. Please explain how the presence of where proves that "there" is not a noun. So in "the place where I live", "the place" is not a noun? – dainichi Nov 12 '12 at 8:39
@FumbleFingers yeah, that's a better example. Expanded on my point quite a bit. – zwol Nov 12 '12 at 14:20

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