False Subjects

On Monday I wrote about singular v/ plural with a focus on the “there is” or the “there are” and how the “there’s” has crept into the plural and that’s wrong. Today though, I want to show you how to avoid those two.

“There’s a long line at the movie theatre.” “There’s” is what’s known as a false subject; it starts the sentence but detracts from the real subject, “line.” To rid your sentence of the false subject, rewrite: “A long line circles the movie theatre.

“There are several incomplete projects on my desk.” What’s the subject of this sentence? It’s “projects”; rewrite it. “Several incomplete projects sit on my desk.”

Yes, they do play an important role when they’re used to point out someone or something: “There are the two new employees.” “There’s our exit for downtown.

You can rewrite them, and yet it changes the trajectory of the sentence and seems awkward: “The two new employees are there.” (Where’s “there”?)

A strong sentence starts with a solid subject and leads your readers to the place you want them to go.

Delete false subjects for more power and positive readability; there’s no reason not to.


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