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Hi,

Below, you will find a number of sentences. This is a part 1 of a series of questions that I need to have answered because next week I'm taking an examination. Here's the tough part... Some of them can be rewritten into sentences beginning with "There..." but some of them cannot. What I want you to tell me is... why. Such sentences are called "There Insertion Structure" or "Locative Existential Structure". I couldn't find any rules about it, in my books. Anyway, this stuff comes from materials I was given by a lecturer in English Grammar. It's a tough nut to crack...

Allright, here it is :

I was told that these sentences are wrong :

2. All of a sudden a bottle broke on the table.
(All of a sudden there broke a bottle on the table)

6. A dog was running in circles.
(There was a dog running in circles)

9. A woman sang in the cold November night.
(There sang a woman in the cold November night)

14. Some forty terrorists participated in the assault.
(There participated some forty terrorists in the assaukt)

16. A ravishing naked girl bathed in the pool.
(There bathed a ravishing naked girl in the pool)

18. Many people helped when the police arrived.
(There helped many people when the police arrived)

Are these correct ? I think they're not. But why exactly ? What's the rule ?

And the next ones :

1. And suddenly a joyful thought floated into his mind.
(And suddenly there loated a joyful thought into his mind)

I won't rewritte all of them, but you know what's the rule here.

3. Instead of co-operation, mutual distrust prevaield between the two groups.
4. A set of materials corresponded to each course of study.
5. The goddess Varuni emanated from the ocean.
7. A sense of responsibility and urgency exuded from all present.
8. A monster lurks in every woman.
10. Two men remained in the village.
11. A bright light streamed forth over all the people present.
12. Some three hours elapsed and his wife got back home not knowing at all what on earth had happened.
13. Only the lower sections of the wall survived.
15. A new bright vision dawned upon his mind.
17. A humongous palace of diamonds and crystal drifted in the distance.
19. A new complication developed quickly after the first was fixed.

So, these ones sound ok... I guess, but again - why ?

And the last ones :

1. In the middle of the kitchen there was killed a big pig.
2. There were stalked three women in this part of the town last year.
3. Of course, a lot of people complain because there are walked dirty dogs in front of their windows.
4. In this section of the readning room, there are read old manuscripts.
5. In the corner between wall and cealing, there was mounted a unique gargolye measuring about thirty cm.

Are they incorrect ? I think so... but I don't know why Emotion: sad

I need to know why some of the given examples are correct and some are incorrect. I was told that sometimes it has to do with verbs of "appearance" or "existence". Still, I don't get it.

Thanks a lot,

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ps. If I made ANY mistakes, please correct me Emotion: wink
Comments  
Hi,

There is indeed such a rule, although I had to look it up to check out the details. You should look in a good grammar book, eg Swan's Practical English Usage (Section 600 in my edition.) I don't want to list all the details here, but essentially it says that we use 'there is/are...' to tell people that something exists (or not). There is a child in the house. 'There' can also be used with other verbs like appear/seem and state verbs like live/exist/remain. It's also used when the subject is a word like some/any/something/nothing etc. There seems to be a problem. There's something worrying me. I'd also add that there are some very specialized and stylish literary uses of the expression.

You ask 'why?' I'm not sure if you are asking why we have such a rule, or simply why each example does or doesn't conform to the rule. The former question is hard, so I won't attempt it here. The second is easier. Let's look quickly at some of your examples.

I was told that these sentences are wrong :

2. All of a sudden a bottle broke on the table.
(All of a sudden there broke a bottle on the table) Wrong because you're not telling me about its existence or state.

6. A dog was running in circles.
(There was a dog running in circles)
Seems OK to me, if you're telling me the dog 'existed' and not thinking about its actions.

9. A woman sang in the cold November night.
(There sang a woman in the cold November night) Wrong, not telling about existence or state. (However, it does sound very 'stylish' but let's not discuss that now)



14. Some forty terrorists participated in the assault.
(There participated some forty terrorists in the assaukt) Wrong, not telling about existence or state.

16. A ravishing naked girl bathed in the pool.
(There bathed a ravishing naked girl in the pool) Wrong, not telling about existence or state

18. Many people helped when the police arrived.
(There helped many people when the police arrived) Wrong, not telling about existence or state

I won't look at all your examples at this point. As I said, it's best if you look at it in detail in a good grammar book. If you then have more questions, please write again.

Best wishes, Clive

Hi Clive, thanks for your reply. Well, actually I found some information about "there..." in "Longman English Grammar" by L.G. Alexander but it says almost nothing about examples... it just gives a rule. If you would be so kind to check these sentences and tell me if they are ok or not and why :

1. In the middle of the kitchen there was killed a big pig.
2. There were stalked three women in this part of the town last year.
3. Of course, a lot of people complain because there are walked dirty dogs in front of their windows.
4. In this section of the readning room, there are read old manuscripts.
5. In the corner between wall and cealing, there was mounted a unique gargolye measuring about thirty cm.

Coming back to the sentence with a dog running in circles, I remember that my lecturer told me something like /This one is wrong. Consider another example "There run a dog into the room" - here we've "appearance"/ but the thing is that it was so long time ago that I'm not sure if I didn't confuse the whole thing myself or that I just misheard something. Or simply associated his answer to a wrong sentence.
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Hi,

1. In the middle of the kitchen there was killed a big pig. No, because 'kill' is not a 'state' verb, so it doesn't sound like you are describing a state. You could say In the middle of the kitchen there was a big dead pig (or ... a pig that had been killed)


2. There were stalked three women in this part of the town last year. No. Again, 'stalk' is not a state verb.

3. Of course, a lot of people complain because there are walked dirty dogs in front of their windows. Same comment.

4. In this section of the readning room, there are read old manuscripts. Same. You could say ... there are old manuscripts available for reading

5. In the corner between wall and cealing, there was mounted a unique gargolye measuring about thirty cm. Same comment.

There ran a dog into the room No, you are not telling me about appearance here, you are telling me about action. That's why this is wrong.


There was a dog running in circles. This is correct. You are telling me about 'appearance or existence'.


A dog was running in circles. This is also OK, but the emphasis is not on appearance but on you telling me about the action. The main verb is not 'to be' but rather 'to run'.

I hope this helps a bit. If you want to write with a few more examples, please do.

Clive
Thanks; One more thing - I was jus told that the sentence "There was a dog running in circles" is 100% wrong, for sure. I was told that in this sentence we've got "an activity verb" or something like that... and that's because "There..." can't be used here... Idon't know...
Hi,

There was a dog running in circles This is OK. The focus on telling me that the dog was there, that it 'existed'. The main verb is 'be'.

A longer form of the sentence would be There was a dog which was running in circles Perhaps you can see here, more clearly, that the sentence is OK?

A very short, simple kind of approach to all this is to say, just use 'There is' and 'there are', as well as the other tenses of the verb 'be'. The main verb has to be 'be'. So, in "There was a dog running in circles", can you see that the main verb is 'be', not 'running'? Maybe you need to think a little about how to identify the main verb?

Best wishes again, Clive
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Ok, thanks again Clive. Can I ask you about other things/examples if I come across any ? Best wishes,
Good morning,

Yes, please ask again when you need to. I enjoyed your question.

Clive