I haven't encountered the phrase, so I just think there is means existing. How can I understand the structure noun + there is?

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” - Henry Ford.

1 Answer 1


It's not an idiom. As you have guessed, this is a use of the existential there, which basically means "existing", so the sentence is saying "Thinking is the hardest work that exists."

I think what might be confusing you is the structure, because it looks like "noun there is" is a single clause, but you need to parse it differently. Think of it like

X is the Y (that) verb phrase

Y can be a noun phrase, or a comparative adjective. In your sentence, "there is" happens to be the verb phrase. For example,

This is the only one (that) we have.
That is the woman (that) I saw.
It is the last one (that) exists.
This is the biggest (that) there is.

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