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I am doubtful as I describe the following phrase:

Seeing is believing - that's an old saying.

Or should I describe it as:

Seeing is believing - there is an old saying.

2 Answers 2

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Actually, both "relative pronouns" (or whatever they're called) are perfectly valid. It's just that there can also be used in the initial position, where in the minds of native speakers it doesn't really reference anything at all.

That's to say, There is an X is often used to mean An X exists - NOT An X is [over] there [in that location]. This usage is similar to It is hot today!, where it doesn't really reference anything in particular (loosely, it's maybe something like the weather, the current environment).

There's no reason to avoid repeating the verb TO BE. The simplest and most natural way to express OP's intent here is just to use a copula construction...

Seeing is believing is an old saying

As a general principle, all the following constructions are syntactically valid...

1: [Statement] is a good idea
2: [Statement]. This is a good idea
3: [Statement]. That is / That's a good idea
4: [Statement]. There is / There's a good idea

Note that the full stop in examples #2-#4 could be replaced by some other punctuation (a dash, semicolon,...), but there must be something in that position to reflect the "hiatus" which would always be there in speech. This is needed to separate [Statement] from the rest of the text, so this, that, or there can meaningfully "point" to the statement (or indicate its "location" within the utterance, if that's how you want to think of it).

For reasons that aren't immediately clear to me, when we use there in this way (as per example #4) it will very often be given heavy stress. Perhaps this is to avoid unwanted conflation with the idiomatic construction mentioned above, whereby There is an X = An X exists, but I don't really know.

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  • Thank you for making me think of many possibilities of rewriting the phrase and grammatical encroachment in your answer.
    – Destiny
    Feb 15, 2019 at 15:47
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The first sentence of yours is quite correct;

"Seeing is believing." -- that's an old saying.

The second one of yours could also be correct if rephrased a bit as follows;

There is an old saying: "Seeing is believing.".

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    I understand that there are missing quotes in the first option because it is an old saying. The error is in the lack of punctuation in case of alternative A. Thanks for answering it.
    – Destiny
    Feb 15, 2019 at 15:46

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