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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 at 7:42
  • @SandeepKumar Are was there and there was right? – Y. zeng Jan 8 at 7:56
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    @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 at 8:01
  • @TypeIA Among was there, there was and was, which is the best one? – Y. zeng Jan 8 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 at 8:03
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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.

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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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