I want to discuss the structure of ''There are/is''. First of all, what is the difference between:

There are three children.


Three children exist.

Do they have the same meaning?

And secondly, In my native language, we would say that

Üç çocuk vardır.

"Üç çocuk" = Three children,
"var" = existence (something that exists, a being),
and "dır" is a copula.

So basically, this structure is not different from -for example- ''three children is a car''. ''a car'' and ''existence'' have the same function. But ın English, that structure that I have mentioned is confusing for me. I know that you are all used to it. Some can say ''What's the problem with that? It is just ''there are'' and ''there is.'' ''. I realize that I still did not ask a question. Well, let me try to ask a good one, I guess.

Normally, ''there'' means a place where I am not in that place. Is there any relevance between ''there'' that means a place where I am not in that place AND ''There'' that is used in the structure of ''There are/is''? What kind of structure is this? By the way, I am new in English. Please excuse my naive usage of language. What do you think about it?

  • 2
    Hello Emir, welcome to Stack Exchange! You can find your answer in any good quality English dictionary. Questions asked here on Stack Exchange are expected have basic research done on them and to describe what research has already been done. Please try Merriam-Webster or Oxford dictionary and then see if you'd like to rephrase your question (since the dictionaries clearly list this context among the definitions for the word "there").
    – R Mac
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 20:09
  • @RMac With all due respect, I have already checked the word ''there''. I think my questions cannot be answered by using a dictionary. I have two questions. 1) What is the difference between to exist and there are structures? I am asking this because my English teacher said to me that you cannot use the verb to exist instead of ''there are/is'' all the time. Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 20:27
  • @RMac 2) This structure, I mean, this usage is awkward for me. Of course, ıf someone is learning a language, there may be so many things that are awkward for him/her. But it seems different. My English level is so bad that I can't even express my ideas. :) That's funny. You have some ideas but you can't express. Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 20:27
  • 1
    Yes, I understand. That was the point of my comment! See, even in your reply, you ended up writing information that adds meaning to your question (about your teacher criticizing your use of "to exist" vs. "there"). It would have been appropriate to include that (and the fact that you already consulted a dictionary) in your question.
    – R Mac
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 20:43
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? What part of speech is “there” when used in “There is (blah blah)”? But doubtless best explained by John Lawler in his link to 'existential there' found at this thread. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 13:30

1 Answer 1


The use of the expletive there in front of a verb—usually a form of be—to assert that someone or something exists. The construction as a whole is called an ​existential sentence.

Existential there, also known as nonreferential there, is entirely different from there used as a place adverb: “It has no locative meaning, as can be seen by the contrast: There's a sheep over there. Also, existential there carries no emphasis at all, whereas the adverb does: There he is.” (Rediscover Grammar, 2003)

Examples and Observations

  • There is a river that runs from Pittsburgh down into West Virginia.
  • There is a cult of ignorance in the United States.” (Isaac Asimov)

Source: https://www.thoughtco.com/existential-there-term-1690690

  • Oh, thank you, my friend. I found something that I can learn about it, finally. You are great. Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 20:39
  • Answers shouldn't force you to visit a link in order to understand them. You should provide a quotation in your answer that summarizes the important information. Anybody interesting in reading more can then visit the link. But, as it is, the text of your answer relays nothing other than "existential there," which means nothing to anybody unfamiliar with the term. (If the link were to disappear, this answer would have no really useful content.) Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 6:21

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