What Are Dummy Pronouns?
Dummy pronouns, also known as expletive pronouns, do not replace a noun, phrase, or clause. In fact, they refer to nothing in particular and instead serve to fulfill the syntactic or grammatical requirements of a sentence.
English Dummy Pronouns
The two dummy pronouns used in English are:
'It' as a Dummy Pronoun
As we said before, dummy pronouns refer to nothing. But they serve practical functions. Let us see when and how we use 'it' as a dummy pronoun.
1. Talking about Weather
In general, when discussing weather conditions, 'it' is commonly employed as a dummy pronoun. The following examples illustrate the use of 'it' to describe weather conditions because without it the sentences would have no subject.
In these examples, 'it' refers to the weather.
2. Talking about Time and Dates
We use 'it' as a dummy pronoun to talk about time and dates. Let's see how it works:
'What time is
Here, 'it' is used to talk about time.
'Why am I so cold?' 'Because
Here, 'it' is used to talk about a date (January).
Here, 'it' is used to talk about an event on a specific date (a birthday).
3. Talking about Distance
'It' as a dummy pronoun is also used to talk about distance. Take a look at the following examples. 'It' has no meaning and refers to nothing in these sentences. It is just used to indicate the distance between point A and point B.
It is quite a hike to get from the parking lot to the entrance of the amusement park.
In this case, 'it' refers to the distance between the parking lot and the amusement park.
4. 'It' as a Provisional Subject
This sentence is originally 'beating them is impossible.' We can rephrase this sentence with the provisional pronoun 'it'.
This sentence is originally 'finding out about your ancestors is somehow interesting.'
Or 'Meeting you was really nice.'
Or 'living here is awful.'
5. 'It' as an Emphasizer
'It' can be used as an emphasizer before a noun or a pronoun. Pay attention to the examples below:
Here, in this example, we are actually emphasizing Mike.
6. 'It' as Object
'It' as a dummy pronoun can act as either a subject or an object. But it is mostly used as the subject. Dummy objects are sometimes used to transform transitive verbs to transitive light verbs. For example:
I think I can make
Here, 'make it in time' means 'being able to arrive in time'.
Does he get
Here, the speaker is asking whether he understands the subject.
'There' as a Dummy Pronoun
'There' can also function as a dummy pronoun, often referred to as the existential 'there'. It is primarily used to indicate the presence or existence of someone or something in a specific place, time, or situation.
1. Using 'There' to Indicate Time or Place
We can use the dummy pronoun 'there' as the subject of a sentence to indicate where or when something happens or exists or to merely indicate the existence or occurrence of something. Let's see some examples:
This sentence is indicating the existence of something in a particular place.
This sentence is indicating that something takes place at a particular time in the future.
As you can see in these examples, we can use 'there' in all three main tenses.
2. Using 'There' to Talk about Number or Amount
We can use 'there' as a dummy pronoun to talk about the amount or number of something. Usually in this use of 'there', you can see a number or a word that refers to a particular amount. Accordingly, the dummy pronoun 'there' can be used as a singular or plural subject. As a singular subject, it takes a singular verb and a singular object (noun). As a plural subject, it takes a plural verb and a ......plural object__ (noun). Here are some examples:
Keep in mind that 'it' can't be plural. Therefore, the verbs and objects used in sentences with 'it' as their subject, must also be in the singular form.
'Adverbial There' vs. 'Existential There'
When we use 'there' as an adverb in a sentence, it takes the place of an adverb or an adverbial phrase. Here's an example:
I was at the party but I didn't see you
Here, 'at the party' refers to a place, which makes it an adverbial phrase, and it is replaced by ''there.''
In this sentence, 'there' is an adverb and has taken the place of an adverb which in this case is placed at the end of the sentence. Let's see another example:
On the other hand, when 'there' is used as a dummy pronoun in a sentence, it adds no further information about a verb or any other part of the sentence. It just functions as the subject of a sentence and indicates the existence of something or someone or the occurrence of some event. For example:
The first 'there' is the 'existential there' while the second one is the 'adverbial there.'
Dummy pronouns never replace nouns, phrases, or clauses. They are known as it and There.
|to talk about weather||
|to talk about time and dates||
|to talk about distance||
|as a provisional subject||
|to indicate where or when||
|to talk about number or amount||
|to refer to a place||
|to refer to existence||
- What Are Dummy Pronouns?
- English Dummy Pronouns
You might also like
There are five interrogative pronouns in English. Each is used to ask a specific question. In this lesson, we will learn more about these pronouns.
Possessive pronouns show ownership and indicate that something belongs to someone particular. With their help, we can make a possessive phrase shorter.
Indefinite pronouns refer to people or things without saying exactly who or what they are. In this lesson, we will learn more about these pronouns.
When two or more people are doing the same thing and receiving the consequences of that action at the same time we use reciprocal pronouns.
Relative pronouns are matchmakers of English grammar. They come in the beginning of relative clauses and join two clauses together. Ready to learn about them?