"is" or "there is"?

xtomx   Tue May 29, 2007 10:29 pm GMT
(1) In the hall there is a long queue.
(2) In the hall is a long queue.

Which of both sentences is correct?

Thank you for your help
furrykef   Tue May 29, 2007 11:48 pm GMT
Either one is correct. The first sentence is more typical, especially in everyday speech. The second one is perhaps a bit more literary, but still heard in speech. (For some reason, I keep thinking of old text adventure games when I read the second sentence. Those games used sentences like that a lot, probably for brevity.)

Compare the following two sentences:

1. There is a long queue in the hall.
2. A long queue is in the hall.

- Kef
xtomx   Wed May 30, 2007 7:59 am GMT
Thank you for your answer, kef

Lee Miro   Thu May 31, 2007 9:43 pm GMT
I'm new to these boards and certainly no expert, but I don't see how that second sentence is correct, because I can't identify the subject. The way that Kef has rearranged it, "a long queue" becomes the subject and so now makes sense, but where's the subject in the original?

I'm a native speaker who's lurked here on and off for a while, so I never expected to start out asking grammar questions ;)
Pos   Thu May 31, 2007 11:16 pm GMT
The second one is not idiomatic English.
furrykef   Fri Jun 01, 2007 1:37 am GMT
Hmm. I think "In the hall" is the subject in the second sentence. It's possible that it is ungrammatical, but native speakers do use this construction. The "text adventure game" example couldn't get out of my mind, so I fired up the most classic text adventure game of all, ADVENT (also known as Adventure, or Colossal Cave, and probably a few other names). Right after the copyright message, these were the game's first words:

"You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gulley."

"Around you is a forest" looks grammatically equivalent to "In the hall is a long queue".

- Kef
Guest   Fri Jun 01, 2007 1:41 am GMT
Learn some grammar, furrykef! "in the hall" is a prepositional phrase function as an adverbial phrase. It is not the subject. The subject is "a long queue". It is simply following the verb in this case.
furrykef   Fri Jun 01, 2007 2:22 am GMT
I think you're right, sorry. And I do know some grammar, it's just that, well, my knowledge isn't really perfect.
Lee Miro   Fri Jun 01, 2007 2:41 pm GMT
Ah, yes, it was the prepositional phrase throwing me off. So if the sentence were just "There is a long hall," would "long hall" be both the subject and object?
Lee Miro   Fri Jun 01, 2007 3:06 pm GMT
Oops, I meant to write "There is a long queue." Though I guess it doesn't matter much grammar wise.

And I'm guessing that there is no object in that sentence? Isn't there a word for this type of "there is. . ." construction?
furrykef   Fri Jun 01, 2007 4:14 pm GMT
"There is..." is an existential construction. I would say that in "There is a long queue", "there" is the subject and "queue" is the object. The word "there" is functioning as a "dummy pronoun".
Lee Miro   Fri Jun 01, 2007 4:58 pm GMT
Thanks, furrykef. That makes much more sense now.