What is the difference between 'There's a table' and 'It is a table'?

  • 1
    For the existential "There's a table" to be acceptable, then there is the pragmatic constraint that the table is supposed to be new information, a type of new info where the speaker assumes that the info "a table" is new to the hearer. But if the word "there" is a locative deictic "there" (the usual "pointing" there), then there is no such constraint. Nor is "It is a table" under that constraint either; and it would depend on the context as to how it could be interpreted as to its construction. -- And so, you really probably ought to provide a context for those sentences.
    – F.E.
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 21:21
  • 1
    Also, it might be difficult to create a context where the existential "There's a table" would be acceptable. The difficulty is that there isn't much info in that post-verbal noun phrase (PVNP). More usual types of existentials could be stuff like: "There's a table on the bottom of the swimming pool", "There's a table up in the attic. Will you please get it for me?" -- EDIT: But it might work if the context has already been established where stuff is being implied.
    – F.E.
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 21:44

2 Answers 2

  1. There's a table.

This is an existential construction. You are telling your reader that somewhere a table exists.

  • Don't ride on your bicycle in that room! There's a table. You might collide with the table.
  • "What did you see inside that room?" - "Well, there's a table. There's a chair. And there's also a big TV set."


  1. It is a table

You are explaining to the reader that it is a table. Your reader sees it but he does not know what that is.

  • Can you see a white rectangle inside the room? It is a table. It is covered with white linen.
  • "What is this on this picture?" (pointing with a finger) - "It is a table".

Probably the situations of such statements are different.

A learner who beginns to learn English nouns may point at a table and ask What is it? -- Teacher: It's a table.

A waiter may say to a colleague, we need an additional table for the breakfast room. The colleague may answer: There is a table you can take.

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