In the park is a tree.

grammatical as

In the park there is a tree.

? Moreover, how about inaccusative verbs like:

In the park sits a dog.


Thanks for any help.

  • It's okay, but I wouldn't say it's idiomatic. Oct 2, 2017 at 22:31
  • You don't give an example containing locative there. Oct 2, 2017 at 23:16
  • The "there" in your example is not locative, but existential, cf "There (existential) is a sheep over there" (locative).
    – BillJ
    Oct 3, 2017 at 8:16
  • So as to clarify: "In the park there is a tree." shows a locative and an existential marker, while "In the park is a tree." shows a locative, only. Is it to say that "In the park Ø is a tree." is simply a different syntax for "In the park there is a tree." with the existential category silenced? Oct 3, 2017 at 14:26
  • "In the park is a tree" has the preposition phrase "in the park" as a locative complement, and "a tree" as subject. "In the park there is a tree", has the same locative PP, but the subject is the existential "there". Nothing is "silenced", as you put it -- they are just two different constructions where the meaning is the same. The first example has subject-auxiliary inversion and in the second the locative complement is preposed to a position before the subject. The 'basic' versions would be "A tree is in the park" and "There is a tree in the park".
    – BillJ
    Oct 3, 2017 at 15:01

1 Answer 1



The definition of a prepositional phrase seems to preclude its use as the subject of a verb :-

"as an adjective modifying a noun in the sentence, or as an adverb modifying a verb, adjective, or adverb in the sentence".

But, to me, your example, "In the park is a tree" sounds quite correct.

  • 1
    It's not the subject: it's a complement. The subject is still "A tree" (To see this, compare "In the park are many trees".)
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 2, 2017 at 22:44
  • Right. Locative predicates can exchange subject and complement positions around the be auxiliary. But the there of In the park there is a tree is not a locative there, but a dummy there inserted by a rule called, with no irony at all, "There-Insertion". Oct 2, 2017 at 23:19
  • @ John Lawler So the position of the phrase has no bearing on the grammar ? 'In the park is a tree,' is, grammatically, absolutely equivalent to, 'a tree is in the park' ?
    – Nigel J
    Oct 2, 2017 at 23:26
  • Does it mean that existential "there" can be silenced when a sentence starts with a locative (In the same way as "There[loc] there[exi] is a tree" would sound odd)? Oct 3, 2017 at 14:28

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