"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow,

Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow."

He waved his wand, but nothing happened. Scabbers stayed gray and fast asleep. "Are you sure that's a real spell?" said the girl. "Well, it's not very good, is it? I've tried a few simple spells just for practice and it's all worked for me. Nobody in my family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it's the very best school of witchcraft there is, I've heard - I've learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough -- I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?”

(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

There is seems to be a relative clause as she is in Her book displays the fine sceptical in-telligence of the scholar she is (CGEL,p1045). But I suspect there is some implicative meaning in OP’s there is. For example, there is Ø in the world, etc. Does ‘there is’ really mean what I’ve said?

Or there is is a set complement for the very best school of witchcraft (CGEL,p1101) and means ‘there is Ø among the witchcraft schools.

Or is it mean it’s the very best school of witchcraft [there is one among witchcraft schools]. And it refers to one.

1 Answer 1


"It's the very best school of witchcraft there is" simply means "It's the very best school of witchcraft that there is". Two clauses with an empty complementizer.

This "there is" clause means "there is anywhere in existence".

It means that there is no better school of witchcraft anywhere.

The additional clause does not add to the meaning.

Something can be specified after "there is" to restrict the claim, in which case the relative clause does change the meaning. Other verbs can be used also besides "is": "It's the very best school of witchcraft { [ that ] there is | that exists | that we have | that can be found | ... } in this country".

Now the set is restricted: it means that it is not absolutely the best school, only the best among those in this country; there may be better schools, if we look outside of the country.

If we omit "in this country", then all of these variations denote an unrestricted superlative.

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