The main safeguards are the Constitution and the Constitutional Court, which are there to prevent such an injustice as the majority deciding to abscond with the property of the minority.

Source: http://www.fsfinalword.com/?page=archive&show=1&day=2015-12-14

Why is the word "there" used in the above clause? Firstly I thought that the sentence has the wrong word order ("which are there") but in this case it is not the structure "there is" but "to be to" and "there" functions in the sentence as an adverb. But to which "place" does "there" refer to. Is it the Czech republic about which the article is?

  • 1
    A synonymous expression would be "which are in place to prevent..." Dec 14 '15 at 13:02
  • …and I reject the possibility of the existential "there is" in the that clause. But what about the word order? I would await "which there are".
    – bart-leby
    Dec 14 '15 at 13:09
  • 1
    I understood it as the structure "to be to", i.e. as the version of modality, similar to " to be supposed to be".
    – bart-leby
    Dec 14 '15 at 13:17
  • 2
    are there to prevent = have been instituted (or are in place) in order to prevent.... The traffic light is there to prevent accidents. The rules are there to keep order. google.com/… Dec 14 '15 at 13:54

After searching several dictionaries for the correct sense of the word "there" in the sentence presented, I have found the following sense that, I think, fits well in the sentence:

The phrase "there to do something" is used to show the role or purpose of a person or thing in a situation, for example, they're there to make money.

So I am pretty sure that the right sense of the sentence is that the role of the main safeguards that are the constitution and the constitutional Court is to prevent,.............".

Please refer to the entry #7 under there in the following link.

  • The Oxford learners dictionary is, IMO, mistaken. Why are there so many rules, dad? -- They're there, son, just live with it. It is the "to" in the infinitive phrase that imparts the sense of purpose to the locution: "there to prevent". Compare: "I'm here to see you to your seat." Dec 14 '15 at 23:40
  • @TRomano, I highly appreciate your opinion.
    – Khan
    Dec 15 '15 at 3:02

There means exist, it does not mean a literal location, and refer to the Constitution and the Constitutional Court which are the safeguards

...which are there to prevent...
...which exist to prevent...

The safeguards are there to prevent...
The safeguards exist to prevent...


As @Peter says, "is/are there" can mean simply "exists". "There" doesn't refer to a specific place when used this way. It simply means "in the Universe".

"Is/are there to ..." indicates that what follows is the purpose or reason for the existence of something. The writer could have said, "The main safeguards are the Constitution and the Constitutional Court, which prevent such an injustice ..." This is what the Constitution and the Constitutional Court do.

But by adding the words "which are there to", the writer says that this is the reason why these things exist. Preventing such an injustice is not just something that they happen to do by a pleasant coincidence: This is why they were created in the first place.

Like if you said, "My wife makes me happy", people would probably think that that's great that you have a happy marriage, etc. But if you said, "My wife is there to make me happy", people would probably say that you are a self-centered jerk. You are saying that her only reason for existing is to make you happy. :-)

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