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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Is 'there exists....' native?


    I have used the phrase for such a long time while someone said that 'there' and 'exist' can never be put together.

    I hope I can get an answer here. Thank you!!!:)
    Last edited by BobK; 07-Feb-2007 at 12:10.

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: Is 'there exists....' native?

    Quote Originally Posted by howlingwolf View Post

    I have used the phrase for such a long time while someone said that 'there' and 'exist' can never be put together.

    I hope I can get an answer here. Thank you!!!:)

    Sounds fine to me. - I use it all the time.

    b
    PS
    I edited your post by mistake

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    Re: Is 'there exists....' native?

    Ah. Interesting semantic twist.

    In the example you gave, therefunctions as an anticipatory subject (it delays the subject/topic). It is a grammatical subject but not the true or notional (i.e., meaningful) subject,

    1. There exist three types of cells. <true subject>
    2. Three types of cells exist. <true subject>

    There (1.) has a few names: expletive there, empty there, and existential there. It's called 'expletive' or 'empty' because it contributes no meaning of its own but is needed to fill a syntactic position. It's called 'existential' because it represents (the existence of) the true subject.

    Expletive/Empty/Existential there is considered redundant by some and therefore should be avoided, yet functional by others, including logicians, mathematicians, scholars, linguists, and well... there's this source which finds that expert writers use "there" for important linguistic and rhetorical purposes, and claims there is little justification for a prescriptive rule against such practice, and that all handbook rules should be subjected to quantitative and qualitative analysis.

    Now, here's the semantic twist (it's a play on meaning): If there doesn't have meaning of its own, how, then, can it exist/be (e.g., There exist)?

    Grammatically, though, the phrase 'there exist(s)' is fine. It's alive and kickin' in the English language.

    All the best.

  4. #4
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    Re: Is 'there exists....' native?

    Alive and kickin' and should be killed!

    I can see no sensible reason to use 'exists' when we already have a nice little verb intended for the same job. What is wrong with 'there is/are'?

  5. #5
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Is 'there exists....' native?

    Thanks Casiopea for the indepth explanation of there. Mathematically speaking there is a regular transformational relation of equivalence between existential clauses:

    There+Be+subject+predication and
    Subject+(auxiliaries)+Be+predication

    if
    1. the clause of the normal pattern has an indefinite subject
    2. has a form of the verb to BE in its phrase verb

    Now see the equation of the following two sentences:
    Something must be wrong --- There must be something wrong

    In some cases the function the existential there is a device for leaving the subject position vacant of content (empty theme). In this sense it is a "slot-filler". Usually the initial element (the theme of a clause or the point of departure) contains given information. But contrary to the practice the subject of a clause can be an indefinite noun phrase. An indefinite noun phrase by definition is a reference to something that has not been previously mentioned. In such sentences like: some articles are written - a certain awkwardness is sensed which is avoided by the introduction of there.
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 07-Feb-2007 at 19:06.

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    queenbu is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Is 'there exists....' native?

    In Maths, we're using it all the time. There's even a symbol for it - which is an inverted E

    "There exists"

    What is Mathematical Symbols? - a definition from Whatis.com - see also: math symbols, Fast Reference for Mathematical Symbols

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    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Is 'there exists....' native?

    Quote Originally Posted by queenbu View Post
    In Maths, we're using it all the time. There's even a symbol for it - which is an inverted E
    "There exists"
    What is Mathematical Symbols? - a definition from Whatis.com - see also: math symbols, Fast Reference for Mathematical Symbols

    Yes Queenbu you are right. I wish I could express linguistic assumptions formally or logically although I am firmly convinced that language is much more superior because it allows ambiguity. in addition any formal transcription involves loss of some information. Sometimes we are not aware what a powerful tool we have everyday at our disposal.

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    Re: Is 'there exists....' native?

    wow, so much reasons lie behind the little question.
    Thank all of you!!! :D

  9. #9
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: Is 'there exists....' native?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Whitehead View Post
    Alive and kickin' and should be killed!
    I can see no sensible reason to use 'exists' when we already have a nice little verb intended for the same job. What is wrong with 'there is/are'?
    Nothing wrong with it; it just conveys different nuances of meaning. If you're happy either to do without those nuances, or to convey them by using other words, that's your choice; depending on the level of your students, you may not want to teach them the finer points.

    There exist people who disapprove of 'there exist'. [...but not very many, and the speaker doesn't really care]

    There are people who disapprove of 'there exist'. [.. a sizeable minority, possibly even a majority]



    b

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    Re: Is 'there exists....' native?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim View Post
    if
    1. the clause of the normal pattern has an indefinite subject
    2. has a form of the verb to BE in its phrase verb
    Agreed. Definite NPs do not occur as notional subjects in existential there constructions. By the by, it's known as the 'Definiteness Restriction' (Milsark, 1974, 1977).

    Ex: There is *John in the room. <definite notional subject>
    Ex: There is a man named John in the room. <indefinite notional subject>

    Milsark, G. (1974). Existential Sentences in English. Ph. D. thesis, MIT, Cambridge, MA.
    Milsark, G. (1977). Towards an explanation of certain peculiarities in the existential construction in English. Linguistic Analysis 3, 1-30.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim
    An indefinite noun phrase by definition is a reference to something that has not been previously mentioned. In such sentences like: some articles are written - a certain awkwardness is sensed which is avoided by the introduction of there.
    Right. Unless the notional subject is modified; e.g., "There are some articles written before 1980 that..."



    There's a study by Mayumi Nishibu that might interest you.
    ABSTRACT
    In reality, however, we sometimes come across existential constructions that apparently violate this restriction. Through a quantitative analysis of real language data extracted from the British National Corpus (2000), the following points were revealed.

    (1) Approximately 80-90% of notional subjects were indefinite NPs and 5% were 'the + NPs.'

    (2) Many 'the + NP' subjects could be regarded as semantically indefinite NPs that were cataphorically modified with appositive that-clauses and of-phrases, etc. (36% in the spoken and about 66% in the written data).

    (3) Anaphoric and exophoric uses of 'the + NP' subjects also occurred, particularly when existential constructions served to list entities that the subjects refer to, to emphasize the existence or non-existence of an entity, to direct the hearer towards an entity, and to focus on the occurrence of an event.

    (4) Distinctive differences were observed across spoken and written registers in the uses of the definite article, the types of postmodification, the types of discourse functions, and the abstract/concrete distinction of noun heads of 'the + NP' subjects.

    All the best.

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