I want to know the difference between the two sentences above.

  1. There is a pencil there.
  2. There is a pencil.

I think that 'there' is unnecessary in No.1 sentence.

Would you please tell me the difference?

  • There is a pencil (where)? "There is" refers to existence, not location (without specific context). 1. by itself is ambiguous.
    – user3169
    Oct 30 '16 at 20:12
  • ...and thus, the second there in the first sentence is not unnecessary. Oct 30 '16 at 20:51
  • Consider the sentence "there is a pencil here". Usually "here" is the opposite of "there", but here there is no contradiction or confusion: the word "there" does not have its usual meaning. Oct 30 '16 at 22:20
  • @laugh Heh! "...here there is no contradiction..." is all that was necessary. It's positively Hofstadterian. Oct 30 '16 at 23:58
  • Glad you noticed it :) Nov 6 '16 at 11:36

In English, we use the expression "there +BE" to talk about the existence of something. When used in this way, there is not a locative. Some examples:

There are unicorns in the garden.
There's not a cloud in the sky.
There's no time to waste.
There were three in the bed.
"There is a tide in the affairs of men..."

In your first example, the second there is a locative adverb that tells us about the location of the pencil:

There is a pencil there.

In conversation, this statement might be accompanied by a gesture indicating the pencil's location. The sentence means "A pencil exists, and it is located there".

Without the second and locative there, the sentence means only "A pencil exists".

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