Can I delete 'there' in the sentence
The Customs Officers asked the man how much perfume there was in his case?

  • No. And, I would prefer was there rather than there was. – Sandeep Kumar Jan 8 '20 at 7:42
  • @SandeepKumar Are was there and there was right? – Y. zeng Jan 8 '20 at 7:56
  • 2
    @SandeepKumar Both your claims are wrong: "there was" is much better than "was there" and the sentence remains grammatical when "there" is removed. – TypeIA Jan 8 '20 at 8:01
  • @TypeIA Among was there, there was and was, which is the best one? – Y. zeng Jan 8 '20 at 8:02
  • @TypeIA Well, I agree with the part of dropping there. But, I would still prefer was there and I could be wrong in doing so. – Sandeep Kumar Jan 8 '20 at 8:03

TypelA is absolutely correct. You can remove 'there' and maintain the sense and here suggestion for 'there was' is better English. This implies now. 'was there' implies before.


There was and there were are perfectly idiomatic English when referring to a quantity or number of something that exists in a place.

"I looked to see how much milk there was in the bottle."

"The school inspector asked how many children there were in the class."

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