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    #1

    We needs or There needs

    Hi, could someone tell me if I an correct or not? I am comparing these two sentences:-

    1. We need to do something about poverty in the world.
    2. There needs to be something done about poverty in the world.

    I think the first sentence is personal because of "we" and the second is impersonal because of "there". But is 2 passive? In sentence 2 is "there" the subject and "need" the verb.

    Sorry for all the questions in one and thanks for your help.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: We needs or There needs

    Yes, I agree about the personal/impersonal sentences.
    A better version of 2. is "Something needs to be done about world poverty." Yes, this is passive.
    "Something" is the subject of my sentence, and I'd say of yours too. "Needs to be done" is the full verb, just as "need to do" is the full verb in 1.

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    #3

    Re: We needs or There needs

    Raymott, can you tell me what "There" is in my second sentence then?

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: We needs or There needs

    Hm. In "Something needs to be done....," Something is the subject.

    In "There needs to be something....," There looks like the subject to me. I agree with Ray: needs to be is a verb phrase. And I would call something the object.

    Does anyone else read it that way? My editing is better than my knowledge of parts of speech.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: We needs or There needs

    Quote Originally Posted by Anne59 View Post
    Raymott, can you tell me what "There" is in my second sentence then?
    You want the part of speech? I'd say it's a pronoun.
    "Something is ...", "There is something ...". 'Is' is a copular, linking verb.
    "There needs to be something"; "Something needs to be ..."

    It's similar to 'hay' in Spanish, though not the same, since 'hay' incorporates the "is", whereas "There" doesn't.
    "Hay un gato ... Un gato es ..."; There is a cat ... A cat is ..."
    "C'e un gatto ... Un gatto e ...". In Italian, like German "Es gibt eine Katze; Eine Katze ist ..." and like English, the verb is not incorporated in the pronoun. So, in Spanish, 'hay' is called an impersonal verb. "Is" also functions as a linking impersonal verb here, linking the noun (something) to its pronoun (there).

    Quirk 18.45 calls 'there' "the grammatical subject", whereas 'cat' or 'something' is the "notional subject". Other people have other opinions. "There is/are" doesn't lend itself well to formal grammatic analysis. The real subject, in my opinion, the thing that 'needs to be done' is 'something'.

    Perhaps a specialist grammarian can tell you how to parse "There is a cat" properly for exams. For me, it's enough to understand it.
    By the way, what is the subject in "Hay un gato" and why would it be different from "There is a cat", or "There is something"?
    Last edited by Raymott; 02-May-2015 at 06:47.

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