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I have been reading the novel Bad for You for the last ten days. I have read a small sentence and in the small sentence a small phrase did not sound natural to my ears. So I landed here to get some help on it.

Bad for You

I shook my head as I stared at him, confused. Krit didn’t get up at ten ever. He partied all night and slept most of the day.

“Good. There’s this place I know that has incredible pancakes, and I want some pancakes,” he said then nodded toward the stairs leading down to the parking lot. “Come on. Eat breakfast with me.”

My question is that does it (There’s this place) sound natural? I think it could be (there is a place, there is the place but there is this place does not sound natural or maybe not good) one of them. Maybe it is grammatically right or also making sense but not to me (a non-native English speaker) at the moment. Because there shows that something is away from us and this shows something is nearby us. So using there and this together not sounding right to me.

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2 Answers 2

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You correctly understand that this use of this is not Standard, and is not employed in formal discourse; and I agree with you that the demonstrative pronoun jars in this context, whether you understand there as a dummy pronoun or a demonstrative pro-adverb.

The fact is that this is used here not as a demonstrative but as a sort of article with something of the senses of both the and a. You might think of it as an ‘introductory definite’ article: speakers say this NOUN when they have a specific instance of NOUN in mind which has not yet been introduced into the discourse.

I know this guy who can fix that for you cheap.

He’s not a guy who’s actually present and I’m pointing to, but he’s not just any guy, either, he’s not just one of several guys I know who can fix things, he’s a very particular guy whose services I’m recommending.

This is a very common colloquial use, and it is ‘non-Standard’ rather than ‘sub-Standard’: you might very well hear English professors use it in conversation:

There’s this paper I saw a couple of years ago, might have been in Shakespeare Quarterly or TDR?, addressed exactly the question you’re asking.

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You example "There's this place" expands to:

There is this place.

In this case, there isn't describing the location of something - it's a dummy subject, that doesn't mean anything, and it's used because English requires it when you're saying that something exists.

You can test it by asking where the thing is. If you can ask (and answer) the question (and it's sensible), then there refers to a place. Otherwise, it's just part of an existential clause.

For instance, as a minimal pair.

  • There is a chance it will rain tomorrow.
    • Where is a chance it will rain tomorrow?
      You can't ask this question in English. The chance doesn't have a location.
  • There is a dog.
    • Where is a dog?
      There! points
      • There's a slight problem with this one: English speakers are far more likely to say Where is there a dog?, and in that case, the there is a dummy subject. However, this question still works.

The short answer to your question: in this case there doesn't describe the distance from "this place". Additionally, this probably doesn't describe how close the "place" is, either - it's just colloquial talk, and is used in place of a (non-specific, indeterminate article).

You can definitely use there and this in close proximity.

The case above, where "there" carries no meaning, as well as when there's news in the sentence somewhere.

For instance, this place exists there, it is difficult to read this without emphasis on "this", "exists", or "there".

  • This place exists there: this place, and not some other place, exists there.
  • This place exists there: this place exists there, even if it doesn't exist here.
  • This place exists there: this place exists over there, even if it doesn't here.
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Thanks for your quick response! It was helpful. But "there" and "this" do not make sense together. My question is that should I avoid them together? –  user62015 Jun 6 at 15:05
    
@user62015 In these examples, there does not describe something that is distal. It is used because English requires a subject, and in other languages, you could just say "exists this place". You can definitely use them together, as long as it is used in a similar way to the first example I gave - "there is a chance it will rain tomorrow". (I've added a bit more detail to the examples to try to make things clearer.) –  jimsug Jun 6 at 15:11
    
@jimsug "this place exists that...". Honestly though, I'm a native speaker and this sounds very natural to me(I say it all the time) but I think OP has a point. I get that "there" is semantically null, but "this" isn't. If you're simply asserting the existence of a place, why not use "a"? "This" sounds like you're talking about where you are now, in which case "this place exists" is trivial, and not the intent of the statement. –  Cruncher Jun 6 at 20:39
    
@Cruncher precisely my point. You wouldn't say "this place exists" if you were talking about your current location. "This", then, stands for "a" - I can't remember the exact distinction, if there is one. Also: "This place exists" works. "This place exists that"? I'm not sure about this one. Did you mean "This place exists there"? This also works fine. –  jimsug Jun 6 at 23:44
1  
@jimsug no I mean "this place exists that [properties of the place]" it was in response to your "exists this place" as an alternative. –  Cruncher Jun 9 at 12:57

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