“Do or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda
I picked this quotation because it illustrates one of my favorite grammatical concepts: dummies.
I’m not talking about people who don’t know whether it should be “John and me” or “John and I,” or people who abuse the subjunctive by saying “If I was…” I’m talking about linguistic clutter, words without content which nevertheless have a grammatical function.
For example: “There” is an adverb meaning “in, to, or at that place or position.” Not complicated.
Hypothetical Girl Telling Pointless Story: So, there’s this guy who keeps texting me. So, yesterday he says–
Me (looking around): Where?
HGTPS: Huh? Where what?
Me: Where is he — the guy who’s bothering you?
HGTPS: How should I know? That’s not important. So, he’s texting me–
Me: You said he was there. You said, “There’s this guy…”
HGTPS: I didn’t mean he’s there. I just mean there’s this guy who keeps texting me.
Me (enlightened): Ah, you mean the dummy subject.
HGTPS (nodding): Yeah, he’s an idiot. So, he texts me…
In the preceding dialog, as in Yoda’s quotation, ‘there’ is not an adverb, nor any sort of ‘content’ word. It is a grammatical dummy, taking the place of the true subject, “this guy” in an inverted word-order sentence. The sentence really means: “A guy exists, who keeps texting me.” But nobody talks that way. More