While working with my brother on his grammar, I saw the sentence:

There were several good reasons for his mistake.

The question in his work was what part of speech is reasons (subject), but I am stumped as to what part of speech there is.

So, what part of speech is there in the above sentence?

  • Have you looked it up in a dictionary? You need to show some degree of research. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 13 '17 at 17:57
  • In old grammar it is a pronoun, an impersonal pronoun. In new syntax it has various names: try "place keeper." – Hugh Jan 13 '17 at 18:34
  • "There" is a dummy pronoun; it (not "reasons") is the subject of the sentence. – BillJ Jan 13 '17 at 18:35
  • Have you looked it up The irony is this advice is exactly as useless to Lydia as the collection of responses to her question. – deadrat Jan 13 '17 at 18:46
  • It's really little different from saying "I looked in the basement. There were the books I had misplaced." "There" is a pronoun which generally means "in that place", but in the case of your example it's being used somewhat figuratively, meaning "in that situation". – Hot Licks Jan 13 '17 at 19:47

From elsewhere on the we:

Wikipedia’s article “Syntactic expletive” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syntactic_expletive) calls the word “there” a syntactic expletive, and like Bill J. and Hugh, it also talks about “dummy pronouns” and “place keepers.” But I’m not sure those can be considered parts of speech.

Dictionary.com suggests that the word “there” is sometimes a pronoun “(used to introduce a sentence or clause in which the verb comes before its subject or has no complement): There is no hope.” That seems right to me. The sentence "There is good reason" seems grammatically parallel to "It is no use," where the word "It" seems obviously a pronoun.

| improve this answer | |
  • Pronoun is a subclass of noun which certainly is a part of speech. In the OP's example, "There" is a noun phrase in subject function. – BillJ Jan 13 '17 at 20:13
  • Is there any way to elicit Lydia's reaction upon learning that pronoun is a subclass of noun and that "there" is a noun phrase in subject function? Why, you're nothing but a pack of cards! – Chaim Feb 14 '17 at 12:41

It is an adverb. If you isolate the sentence to "were several good reasons for his mistake", you see that you have to describe the verb "were". What were, where were, etc. In this case, it's "there". And because "there" modifies the verb "were", it is an adverb.

| improve this answer | |
  • Hello. Eddie. I don't usually downvote answers from new participants, but this is almost certainly wrong (this is almost certainly not the locative usage) and unsupported. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 13 '17 at 17:58
  • Adverbial if heavily stressed, as in Shakespeare's Tomorrow and Tomorrow "There would have been a time for such a word..." – Hugh Jan 13 '17 at 18:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.