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A. What is the difference between these two?

  1. Here are the letters for you.
  2. The letters for you are here.

B. Which one (or both) has the same meaning for distant objects in the sentence below?

There are the letters for you on that table.

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  • 1
    You are right in your comment below that there is a difference; see my answer.
    – BillJ
    Nov 1, 2023 at 12:40
  • 1
    How is your question A different from your recent question here, which you've already accepted?
    – gotube
    Nov 1, 2023 at 21:32

4 Answers 4

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I agree with BillJ's answer but will offer some paraphrases of the sentences and/or descriptions of context.

Here are the letters for you.

The speaker may have the letters in their outstretched hand, giving the letters to the listener.

The speaker may be pointing at a table or a desk nearby, showing the listener where the letters are.

If the letters were on a desk or table across the room, the speaker would use "there" instead of "here", either while pointing by hand or glancing over in the direction of the desk or table:

There are the letters for you.

or

There are the letters for you -- (over) on that table.

With the next:

The letters for you are here.

possible meanings are:

The letters you have been expecting have arrived (in the post).

or

The letters that have been prepared for you are now ready and available. Where are they? "here" could mean they are in this room or in this building, perhaps down the hall in another office. "Here" is flexible in that way.

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  • the excellent answer
    – Petr Vatov
    Nov 1, 2023 at 21:19
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Taken purely literally, they have the same meaning and they are deictic in the sense that the meaning of "here" is dependent on context.

However, most native speakers would use them differently. Usually "Here are the letters for you" and most sentences starting with "here are" are used to present something to the other person and there is usually an implication that the other person is expected to take the things indicated. That is not absolutely universal and context and which word is emphasized can affect that implication, but that is the most common usage.

On the other hand, most native speakers will use a sentence like "The letters for you are here" to merely indicate their presence or location, often with an implication that they have arrived recently. There is usually no implication that the person being spoken too is expected to immediately take them.

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  • You can put are here at the end for showing someone where something is, too.
    – Lambie
    Oct 31, 2023 at 23:00
  • @Lambie Good point. I'll clarify and thanks. Oct 31, 2023 at 23:55
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[1] Here are the letters for you.

[2] The letters for you are here.

[1] is an inversion. It may be interpreted in one of two ways, depending on context.

Either it simply gives the location of the letters, alternating with the uninverted [2] or it accompanies the act of presenting the letters to you.

[3] There are the letters for you on that table.

This example may also have two interpretations. "There" is either locative, giving the location of the letters, or (less likely) it is simply existential, conveying the existence of the letters with the PP "on that table" then conveying their location.

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Here are the letters for you. [ can mean the speaker actually is holding something in his/her hand, or pointing it out] OR
The letters for you are here.

Those mean exactly the same thing and are deictic. That means it is as if you are pointing at the letters or gesturing (with your hand or finger(s). here means close to you, the speaker.

"there", on the other hand, means the letters are not that close to you. They are farther away from you. "there" is also deictic.

There are (the) letters for you, on that table.

Oxford Dictionary: deictic: relating to or denoting a word or expression whose meaning is dependent on the context in which it is used (such as here, you, me, that one there, or next Tuesday ). noun

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    I believe there is the difference between those two. Maybe logical stress?
    – Petr Vatov
    Oct 31, 2023 at 20:23
  • @PetrVatov There is no difference. They are the same idea.
    – Lambie
    Oct 31, 2023 at 22:59

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