there be



The expletive there, from Old English þær, to fill the first position in an existential sentence of the verb-second word order.[1]


there be (highly irregular)

  1. The specified thing exists, physically or abstractly.
    Synonym: there exist
    • 1749, Anthony Ashley Cooper Shaftesbury, Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, J. Baskerville, page 8:
      If there be any thing ILL in the Univerſe from Deſign, then that which diſpoſes all things, is no one good deſigning Principle.
    • 1907, Southern Society for Clinical Investigation, The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, J.B. Lippincott, Co., page 627:
      Unless there be some lesion of the stomach, there is no blood, either microscopic or occult.
    • 1988, John S. Doskey, William Maclure, The European Journals of William Maclure, →ISBN, page 204:
      There ought to be representation on the broad basis of population and public discussion with open doors and free debate. . . . Nor should there be any constraint upon the opinions of any of the members of the Diet or upon their right of publishing them, even though such would meet with opposition from without.
    • 1996, Diane Meyers, Disaster Response and Recovery: A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals, →ISBN, page 75:
      There may be people with drug or alcohol problems who may go into withdrawal.
    • 1999, Christopher Shays, Anthrax Immunization Program, “Hearing Before the Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relationsof the Committee on Government Reform”, →ISBN, page 35:
      I just want to know the truth, you are expressing your concerns, but I also want there to be some candor between us.

Usage notesEdit

  • When introducing more than one noun phrase, the verb agrees with the number of the first noun phrase.
    There is a swing and a seesaw for kids.


This verb needs an inflection-table template.

infinitive there to be, present singular there is, plural there are, gerund there being, past singular there was, plural there were, present perfect singular there has been, plural there have been




  1. ^ Leiv Egil Breivik and Toril Swan, The desemanticisation of existential there, in Christiane Dalton-Puffer et al. ed., Words: Structure, Meaning, Function, Walter de Gruyter, 2000.