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I need your opinion on "there":

A few grammar books carried by ESL students suggest that "there is" only takes indefinite articles such as "a/an", as in "There is an apple".
Anything else, such as "the, my, our, his", is not supposed to come after "there is".

Therefore:
There is the book I was looking for.
There is his mother.
There is my car.
... these are all "exceptional uses" according to what they say.

I have never heard of this rule/restriction on "there is" and it completely throws me off.
I see a lot of sentences on the internet which simply use "the , my, our" after "there is", and cannot find any articles or footnotes on this rule in the dictionaries I look into.

Question:
Is this true? Have you ever heard or seen such restriction? If so, can someone indicate the rationale behind it?

Any input is greatly appreciated.
Even "never heard of it, never paid attention" would help a lot.

Thanks in advance.
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Grammar Geek(FYI, the town is Blue Ball, in the singular. I drive through it when I go to Hershey Park.

What we find more amusing is that Paradise is quite close to Intercourse, which is just down Rt. 340 from Bird-in-Hand. Those Amish!)

jazzmaster - just say "what crap" not "what a crap."

Lastly, maybe it would help if you thought about "There is your brother" or "There's that purse I've been wanting to buy" as "Hey look! Over there" to reinforce the "where?" aspect of that form of "there."
Thanks for dropping by again, Grammar Geek.

Hmm, Blue Ball ... I did not notice that when I went to Hershey Park.
just say "what crap" not "what a crap." ... What are you talking about? I did not say that! Emotion: zip it

By "There is your brother", I meant what Mr. M said earlier: "However, I don't think the rule is absolute at all: Who can help me with my homework?-- Well, there's your brother."

Thanks again.
KooyeenI used to learn from those books and listen to teachers who teach those "rules" too, until I literally got mad and decided I'd had enough of that cr... garbage.

Thanks Kooyeen. (Queen! I just figured that out!)

I dig your garage example a lot. Well put and I would not change one single word in it, including your collection of bodies.
There it is, there are no other rules concerning the use of "there", period.

So I suppose you were the one of those victims who were stuffed with "Hardcore English Grammar", huh? I feel you. Those who "really overgeneralize" MUST put everything into "rules", no exception. Otherwise those sentences do not exist. As results, they came up with so many hardcore grammatical terms which even a rocket scientist with a doctor's degree in brain surgery cannot understand. That is sad but is a reality in the wonderful world of ESL. I do not know where this is going to.

But one thing I am sure is that I love your style [H]

Thanks again.
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jazzmasterWhat a crap.
Really?

(Blue Ball is on 322 - it depend where you were coming from whether you'd drive through it.)
Really?
,,, Reeeeally. I just wanted to give your cat a big hand because she sits so nicely for the camera ... clap clap clap ... [<:o)]

(Blue Ball is on 322 - it depend where you were coming from whether you'd drive through it.)
,,, You can get to Zzyzx Road on the I-15 on your way from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
http://www.worldofstock.com/closeups/DEC1395.php

,,, Or if you would like to take a different route, Truth or Consequences is on the I-25. http://www.ci.truth-or-consequences.nm.us/

Thanks, GG.
Kooyeen[I would say THERE can indicate "existence" (as in "There's a spider, eww!"), or can indicate location (as in "It's over there" or "There it is - There's my wallet", where "there" would be stressed).

Here's an example I think is perfectly ok:
What's in your garage? - Oh, nothing. There's an old car... and there's the old bike you sold me, remember?
Hi, Kooyeen. I think you have Mr.M's adverbial usage correctly, but in my opinion your existential examples are mixed. Maybe not. Perhaps they're just open to interpretation.

"There's a spider, eww!" is clearly adverbial. "There's a spider in my sock!" would be existential. In the adverbial usage, it must be the "there" itself (eg. pointing) which tells where, or gives the location. In the "eww!" example there's no reference to the location of the spider other than the "there" itself.

In the other spider example, if you only said the existential "There's a spider," it could be taken either way. You may be pointing to the spider, or physically indicating it in some way, perhaps with a nod of your head or a glance at the location. Then it would be adverbial, indicating where. But absent these indications, you're only saying that a spider exists - perhaps in Timbuk Tu. If you then add information about the location, "There's a spider in my sock," the thought could be expressed as "A spider is in my sock," and the "there" contributes nothing as to location. (It has no meaning, as Mr. M says.)

In your garage example, if you're sitting in your living room having a beer when this conversation takes place, It's all existential. These things exist [in your garage by virtue of previous context.] "The bike is a perfectly acceptable exception to Jazz's rule.

But if you say, "Come on, let me show you," the there's become adverbial. "There's the old bike. Look at it."

Your earlier example, "It's over there" does not fit this discussion. Yes, it's adverbial and indicates location, but it's not an example of "There is . . . (There's my wallet, where there is stressed is a fine adverbial example.)

What do you have to offer me? (reply) Well, there's my love and there's my money. Clearly existential, "my" being an acceptable exception.

- A.

Hi GG. I had forgotten you emigrated to Pennsylvania. I'll watch my P's & Q's.
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jazzmasterA few grammar books carried by ESL students suggest that "there is" only takes indefinite articles
Good advice for beginners using "existential there".
You've got four combinations to disentangle here.
"existential there" means there exists -- such-and-such "has existence".
"locative there" means in that location -- at that place.
The two meanings are different. And each can be used with either an indefinite or a definite expression.
1. Existential there with an indefinite: There's a book on the table. (A book is to be found -- has existence -- on the table.)
2. Existential there with a definite: For sinners, there's hell. | For help with your homework, there's your brother. This turn of phrase asks us to take something into consideration. (Consider hell, consider your brother, as an answer to the problem of sinners, of doing homework.) Common with always: If you ever need a favor, there's always good old Charlie.

3. Locative there with an indefinite: I'd like a good mystery for summer reading. -- (pointing to a book on a shelf) There's a good one for you. (In that location is a good one.)
4. Locative there with a definite: There's the postman. He's coming up the walk just now. | Where did I leave the car? -- Oh! There's my car! (In that place the postman is found. | In that location is my car.)
You'll probably notice that, statistically, existential there usually goes with an indefinite expression, and locative there usually goes with a definite expression. Your three examples that you wanted to call exceptional are actually members of class 4 above, and are not among the patterns the ESL text is cautioning against. (I don't think so anyway.) Case 2 is the focus of the prohibition. And for beginners, it might not be a bad idea to keep away from those, since they are, as I pointed out above, more like an idiomatic way of asking someone to take something into consideration.
CJ
Avangi
Kooyeen
Here's an example I think is perfectly ok:
What's in your garage? - Oh, nothing. There's an old car... and there's the old bike you sold me, remember?
Hi, Kooyeen.

In your garage example, if you're sitting in your living room having a beer when this conversation takes place, It's all existential. These things exist [in your garage by virtue of previous context.] "The bike is a perfectly acceptable exception to Jazz's rule.

Thanks Avangi:
I am more than sure that Kooyeen described a conversation which took place outside the garage without being actually being there. At least that was how I understood it.

J
CalifJimYou'll probably notice that, statistically, existential there usually goes with an indefinite expression, and locative there usually goes with a definite expression. Your three examples that you wanted to call exceptional are actually members of class 4 above, and are not among the patterns the ESL text is cautioning against. (I don't think so anyway.) Case 2 is the focus of the prohibition. And for beginners, it might not be a bad idea to keep away from those, since they are, as I pointed out above, more like an idiomatic way of asking someone to take something into consideration.
CJ

Thanks, CJ

Well organized and explained. Thanks.

"... are not among the patterns the ESL text is cautioning against." ... I think you got that right.
I, however, have an impression that ESL hardcore grammar books declare that "in case of existential use, it is a grammatical rule not to say "there is the ..."". My question is whether this should be called a "grammatical rule" and sentences such as "there is the bike you sold me" be classified as "exceptional use". I think otherwise and what it boils down to is "in reality "existential there usually tends to go with an indefinite expression". You, however, are welcome to say 'there is the ..." in existential sense, in situations where and when appropriate". I am afraid that those ESL books would have translated this into like "no, saying "there is the ..." in existential sense is a serious grammatical error". In which case, they are dead wrong.

Thanks.
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jazzmasterMy question is whether this should be called a "grammatical rule"
Probably not. There may be a better way to finesse this with a different wording.
jazzmaster "... a serious grammatical error". In which case, they are dead wrong.
Yes, but from the viewpoint of the authors and the teacher, this may be considered a harmless "white lie". In every discipline there are basic concepts and advanced concepts, and it's impossible to present everything at once. (The principles of chemistry work just fine if we imagine all the electron shells as spherical, even though this is "dead wrong". Only advanced chemistry students need learn the "true shapes" of the electron shells.) If the students eventually learn the finer points of grammar, it's a small price to pay that they have a small misconception of grammar in their first attempts, because the simplification of the grammar at the beginning makes it much easier for them to navigate the language with confidence in the beginning stages.
Out of curiosity, does the book actually use the words, "serious grammatical error"? Or is that your impressionistic paraphrase?

CJ
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