I've got a problem with this structure:

"Under this term are meant all things that belong to (...)"

I wish to know if it's correct and what kind of structure actually it is.

I believe it's probably more of general problem with sentence structure in English. I've got similar problem with this kind of constructs: "There is/are sth in somewhere" vs. "In somewhere is/are sth".

Example: "There are two tomatoes in the fridge." vs. "In the fridge are two tomatoes."

Are the above structures correct? Can they be used interchangeably?


2 Answers 2


Under this term are meant all things that belong to . . . is grammatical, but it would be used only in a very formal document. The normal way of expressing it would be something like This term includes all things that belong to . . .

There are two tomatoes in the fridge and In the fridge are two tomatoes are both grammatical. The first is an ‘existential clause’, typically used to introduce new information. For that reason, the first sentence is more likely to occur in this particular case than the second.

The use of existential ‘there’ and the inversion of subject and verb are just two of the ways in which the normal word can be altered to serve different purposes and to suit different contexts.

  • Is it really acceptable formally? I would be happier with By this term is meant or Under this term are included. But rather like OP, I'm more uneasy than objecting. Commented Dec 1, 2012 at 22:35
  • @TimLymington. You're right. I was oversimplifying to illustrate the difference. Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 7:48

Structurally, this sentence is fine. Lexically though, it seems odd to me. I can't think what it actually means to mean something under a term. I would probably have written

This term means anything that belongs to ...

or something similar.

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