The word there firstly functions as an adverbial. For example, consider the following two sentences:
I am studying in the library.
We are studying there, too.
In the first sentence, the prepositional phrase in the library functions as an adverbial that indentifies in what place I am studying. In the second sentence, the pronoun there replaces the prepositional phrase in the library but also performs the function of adverbial.
However, the word there also functions existentially. Take, for example, the following two sentences:
- A girl from Nantucket exists.
- There is a girl from Nantucket.
In the first sentence, the noun phrase A girl from Nantucket functions as the subject and the verb exists as the predicate. In the second sentence, the pronoun There functions as the subject, the verb is as the predicate, and the noun phrase a girl from Nantucket as the subject complement.
However, unlike in the case of the pronoun there functioning as an adverbial, the existential there in There is a girl from Nantucket lacks an antecedent. An antecedent is the word, phrase, or clause that a pronoun replaces. Instead, existential there acts as a grammatical subject filler in sentences that make statements about the existence of someone or something. For example:
- A woman who has one daughter exists. ~ There is a woman who has one daughter.
- A boy was in my class. ~ There was a boy in my class.
- Do some problems with your car exist? ~ Are there some problems with your car?
Note that existential there may take either a singular or plural verb depending on the grammatical number of the subject complement. The verb that follows existential there may also take any tense or aspect conjugation including the simple present, present perfect, simple past, and past perfect.