Is it correct to say:

"On Friday is a concert at Trafalgar Square."

or do we have to say:

"On Friday there is a concert at Trafalgar Square."

I know that inversion can occur with locative phrases ("Outside were five police officers", "Into the room rolled a ball") though I have some doubts when it comes to an example such as "On the table is a book".

  • 1
    I would say no, it is not grammatical. My (speculative) explanation for this is that the location is a complement of is, but the time is an adjunct. I have no problem with "On the table is a book".
    – Colin Fine
    May 20, 2018 at 9:41
  • There's a concert, Friday, at Trafalgar Square is also acceptable (to me).
    – Nigel J
    May 20, 2018 at 10:43
  • In response to Colin's comment, there's no problem with "The concert is on Friday", where the complement of "be" is a temporal PP.
    – BillJ
    May 20, 2018 at 10:53
  • 2
    We do use at least one type of temporal expression in a fairly similar way: 'Today is the day of the Royal Wedding' / '2012 was the year of the aardvark', though here 'today' etc are probably best analysed as nouns. // Otherwise, I'd stick with the existential there constructions. May 20, 2018 at 10:59
  • @ColinFine Yes. One could of course say "Friday is Jane's birthday", where the day is the complement.
    – WS2
    May 20, 2018 at 11:24

1 Answer 1


(From Bright Hub Education)

The prepositional phrases can perform six nominal functions. Nominal functions are grammatical functions prototypically performed by nouns, noun phrases, and noun clauses. The six nominal functions prepositional phrases are:

Subject complement
Direct object
Object complement
Indirect object
Prepositional complement

Prepositional phrases of location and time most often perform nominal functions.

Behind the shed needs mowing.

Before ten is a bad time to call me.

Under the refrigerator is disgusting!

In the light of this explanation, I believe, the OP's following sentences are grammatically acceptable.

"On Friday is a concert at Trafalgar Square."

"On the table is a book".

The following example sentence (from The Internet Grammar of English) shows a prepositional phrase of time functioning as the subject of the sentence.

Prepositional Phrases functioning as Subject

Less commonly, the Subject may be realised by a prepositional phrase:

After nine is a good time to ring

Prepositional phrases as Subject typically refer to time or to space.

  • 1
    No, these constructions are not relevant. On the table in On the table would be a good place to look is performing a nominal function. In On the table is a book it is not, it is purely locative, and is not the subject. In On Friday is when you might catch me (which I find just barely acceptable, as a native speaker), On Friday is a subject nominal, but in On Friday is a concert at Trafalgar Square it can't be.
    – Colin Fine
    May 20, 2018 at 13:36
  • @ColinFine, You said On the table of "On the table is a book" is not the subject, it is locative. Is On the table is a book a sentence? What is the subject of the sentence? Can't a locative phrase be in the nominative case? May 21, 2018 at 10:18
  • 1
    On the table is a book is a perfectly good sentence, and I believe the subject is a book. This is different from Behind the shed needs mowing, which is saying something about "(the patch of grass) behind the shed". Behind the shed is grammatically a locative phrase, but semantically it is referring to "the things which are ...", or more specifically "the grass which is ...". In on the table is a book it is not referring to "the things which are on the table", but giving a location for the subject, the book.
    – Colin Fine
    May 21, 2018 at 17:24

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