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Does anyone else worry about there being too much 'fantasy' in children's fiction?

Please tell what there being means. I would like to have alternative ways to rewrite the above sentence. It would be better if I got some sentences that include there being.

1

"there being" is simply the passive form of "there is". "There is" relates your next clause to a direct subject, yourself, where "there being" puts the "blame" on the object doing the action. Here's the difference:

  • "I punched him in the face" (active voice)

  • "He was punched in the face" (passive voice)

or

  • "There is too much salt in the food" (active voice, implies the subject 'I')

  • "I'm worried about there being too much salt in the food" (passive voice, implies a global subject, or the subject 'you')

Let's look at other ways to say this, with the subjects left in:

"There is too much salt in the food."

  1. "I think there is too much salt in the food."

  2. "I feel there is too much salt in the food."

  3. "Emma said there is too much salt in the food."

"I'm worried about there being too much salt in the food."

  1. "I'm tired of there being too much salt in the food"

  2. "They've complained about there being too much salt in the food."

In the first three examples, there is a direct subject (I, he, she, Emma) and food is the direct object of the sentence.

In the last two examples, food is the subject of the sentence. It's the food's fault there is so much salt, the speaker is not involved.

That's why "there being" is so restrictive. There are maybe two sentence types in which you can use it, the examples I just gave, and it often comes off as passive/aggressive or pretentious.It's usually used to deflect a negative statement away from oneself: the speaker does not wish to take responsibility for their statement.

Otherwise, the speaker would say:

  • "There is too much fantasy in fairy tales"

  • "Statistically, children are reacting to fantasy in fairy tales more now than ever before"

Since they'd have to back up either of those claims, it's easier to blame "the ether" for their statement.

"I'm worried about there being....."

  • There is the subject of there is and there being. Being is not passive; BE cannot be cast in the passive. It's a gerund form of active BE. Food is not the subject of anything: it's the object of the preposition in. – StoneyB Jan 1 '16 at 3:46
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SHORT ANSWER:
Being here is a gerund—this is the name we give verbforms with -ing when they (or the clauses which they head) are employed as nominals. There is the 'dummy' subject used in the existential construction there BE, as in "There is too much fantasy in children's fiction."

LONGER ANSWER:
Consider this pair of clauses:

A. I worry about X.
B. My son drives too fast.

If what you worry about is B, you can make B the object of the preposition about by changing its verb, drives, into the -ing form, which can act like a noun (as in I enjoy driving).

B. My son drives too fast C. my son driving too fast

Now you can replace X with C:

I worry about [my son driving too fast].

Now apply the same process in reverse to your sentence, replacing the -ing form with an ordinary finite verb:

A. Does anyone else worry about ...
B. there is too much fantasy... C. there being too much fanatasy ...

And separate it into two clauses:

A. Does anyone else worry about X?
B. There is too much fantasy in children's fiction.

"There's too much fantasy in children's fiction" is the proposition you worry about, and you wonder if anybody else wonders about it, too.

One way to rewrite this is

Is anybody besides me troubled by a sense that there is too much fantasy in children's fiction?

  • @mattdm O very nicely discriminated! I will fix it. – StoneyB Dec 31 '15 at 0:01
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Consider this use of the so-called "existential" there:

There is too much salt in this soup.

Now consider this question:

Are you worried that there is too much salt in this soup?

Worry takes a that-clause complement. But we can also worry about (something). about takes a nominal complement. This particular nominal complement uses being as a nominal value, with existential "there".

Are you worried about there being too much salt in this soup?

3

Not really exactly equivalent.

Does anyone else worry that there is too much 'fantasy' in children's fiction?

validates or implies agreement with the statement that "there is too much". Certainly adding "the fact that there is" implies agreement even more strongly. The original formulation with "about there being too much" is neutral with respect to the truth of the statement, and also could refer to "there being too much" some time in the future even if there is not too much right now.

Does anyone else worry that there may/might be too much 'fantasy' in children's fiction?

would be somewhere in between in terms of implying agreement.

  • Good point. Editing my answer accordingly. – laugh Dec 31 '15 at 6:18
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Possible alternative to this sentence would be :

Does anyone else worry about the inclusion of too much 'fantasy' in children's fiction?

This conveys the same meaning. The subject is asking whether anybody is worried about the extensive usage of 'fantasy' in children's fiction. The 'there being' refers to "having a presence of" or "being included with".

  • 1
    Please tell what the "there being" actually means. – Azahar Ali Dec 30 '15 at 18:03
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    I've mentioned it. It just means "having a presence of" or "being included with". – Varun Nair Dec 30 '15 at 18:04
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@TRomano and @StoneyB gave very good and detailed explanations.

A short answer to the original question is: "there being" is equivalent to "the possibility that there is" in the quoted sentence.

  • I originally wrote "the fact", but as @Uh_Clem noted "there being" does not necessarily claim that the thing exists. The words "fact", "claim", "idea" can be used on the alternative sentence, and each implies a different level of agreement. "There being" is neutral and has less implication. – laugh Dec 31 '15 at 6:29

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