HomeQ&A"there he is" or "there is he"

"there he is" or "there is he"

4
votes

"there he is" or "there is he"

I was wondering if these two sentences are well written. Are the two ways possible?

12687 views
updated NOV 25, 2009
posted by nila45

14 Answers

6
votes

"There he is" would definitely be the better of the two. If you think about it in the way of answering the question, "Where is he?" you can arrange the words in two main ways and it still sounds fine the first being, "There he is," and the second, "He is (over) there." "There is he," just doesn't really work, perhaps because of the pronoun. However, if you wanted to say "There is the dog," or "There is Jon," those would both be perfectly acceptable uses.

updated NOV 23, 2009
edited by kopek
posted by kopek
Yo también tenia esa duda, pero aun no voy por esa clase jeje - EdiOswaldo, NOV 23, 2009
6
votes

There's nothing grammatically wrong with "There is he." It would, however, be a very unusual construction. One sometimes a similar inversion in the 1st person sing/plu but but it's very literary. e.g. "Here am I, pondering my fate." or "Here are we enmeshed in our petty concerns while ..." (These aren't real quotations, I just wanted to make sentences that sounded rather "elevated".)

I don't remember ever encountering similar inversions with the 2nd/3rd person but they are, in principle. possible. Nonetheless, I'd suggest not using these inversions in conversation or normal writing.

updated NOV 25, 2009
posted by samdie
I agree with this. - webdunce, NOV 23, 2009
When I first started reading, I was like, what the heck, this is wrong, but really it's just because noone talks like that. It is right though, oddly...I learned something new. =) - DJ_Huero, NOV 25, 2009
5
votes

It just has to do with acceptable word order in English. Just as you wouldn't say "a la fiesta voy" in Spanish, you just don't say "there is he" in English.

updated NOV 25, 2009
posted by edgedonkey
5
votes

Hi Nila.

There he is = correct

There is he = incorrect

updated NOV 25, 2009
posted by --Mariana--
2
votes

"there he is" or "there is he"

I agree with Marianne and Kopek that "There he is" would be the only correct way to say this and have it still be able to stand alone as a correct sentence.

The reason that you cannot use the second choice "there is he" is because it results in faulty predication. Faulty predication occurs when a linking verb (is) is used to link two expressions that are not equivalent. By placing "he" after the linking verb you are equating the person (he) with a particular place (there). Said another way, you are trying to say that "he" is actually a particular place (a "there") which doesn't make sense.

Two ways that the sentence could be constructed correctly would be to say the following (I have tried to give the Spanish equivalents to the best of my knowledge).

I. There he is. - Allí está.

II. He is there. - Está allí.

In terms of the question that is being answered, I will state it a bit differently than Kopek has. You want to convey in your message where the other person is or stated in terms of your original sentence, you want to state where he is (located). If you were to make a question of this sentence using the interrogative word "where" then you would have to change the order of the sentence and verb to make it "Where is he?" However, this subject-verb order does not work when you are making a declarative statement.

There is the dog" or "There is Jon"

There are only only one way in which I can see either of these being used as a sentence. This would be to use the word "there" with a pronomial force in impersonal constructs where the "real" subject follows the verb. In this case, both sentences would require additional information (or clauses) to complete the idea.

There is the dog


(standing over) There is the dog that bit me.

combines two ideas:

.......the dog is standing over there

........That dog bit me

Standing over there is the dog that bit me [impersonal statement]

Compared with:

The dog that bit me is standing over there

The dog standing over there bit me.

Using a pronoun in the impersonal construction could probably be used as well, but would sound extremely antiquated (as though you were from the 18th or 19th century):

Standing over there is he that bit me.

For the sentence to be grammatically correct, you would need to have "there" modify a word like standing (sitting, looking, waiting, lurking, etc), so you would end up with the meaning being "standing there, sitting there, etc." Otherwise, you end up with faulty predication. In actual practice, however, it probably would not be strange to hear someone omit the "standing/sitting/etc" and end up with something like: There is the dog that bit me/There's the dog that bit me. A bit more strange would be to hear someone say, "There is the dog," and leave it at that. The reason that this might sound a bit odd to say is that by using the definite article "the" it leads one to wonder, "which or what specific dog are you talking about" (What makes it "the" dog?). It calls for some sort of qualifying or clarifying statement/clause to go with it to specify what exactly makes it "the" dog.

There is Jon


Similarly (I won't go into the same detail here), this phrase might be joined with additional information to make an indirect statement:


There is John (sitting) over by the bar [indirect]

John is (sitting) over by the bar [direct]


In both cases, it would still probably be a bit awkward to say "there is..." but would probably sound better if you were to contract the two words to "there's."

There's John (sittting) by the bar.

John is (sitting) there by the bar.

He is (sitting) there by the bar

Sitting there by the bar is John

or simply:

Sitting there is John

an indirect way of saying

John is sitting there

but not

There is he (sitting) by the bar. or Sitting there is he

Hopefully, this was not so long and repetitive that you are now in tears (tears of boredom) from reading it, but I hope that I was able to clarify some things for you.

updated NOV 25, 2009
posted by Izanoni1
"Where's the dog?" is often answered colloquially, with a contraction: "There's the dog." - treex, NOV 24, 2009
Yes, but it's not often that you will hear "there is the dog" without the contraction - Izanoni1, NOV 24, 2009
1
vote

Although it sounds strange, in Spanish, there would be several ways of saying that.

There is the dog. (Ahí está el perro)

There he is (ahí está él) If we say: "ahí él está" we are using the inversion because the normal way is the first one. If we say "ahí él está", it sounds poetic.

I mean, it would be the type of construction we would use in poetry. If someone expresses himself in that way, perhaps, we would think that he is very inspired that day and he feels like a poet.

updated NOV 25, 2009
edited by nila45
posted by nila45
I can't thank you enough for this little bit of information - Izanoni1, NOV 25, 2009
1
vote

Hi, Samdie. Yes, I was thinking about the phenomenon of inversion. It is clear that I have heard to talk about that. However, this sentence, I do not know why, sounded strange.

updated NOV 23, 2009
posted by nila45
As Samdie says: You would not use these inversions in conversation or normal writing. - --Mariana--, NOV 23, 2009
I disagree with Samdie in the fact that in standard writing (and standard speech) these types of inversion would be incorrect. To say something like this would require a bit of "poetic license" in order to make it work. - Izanoni1, NOV 23, 2009
That's not to say that you will never encounter a construction like those he has listed (especially in prose and poetry of earlier time periods), but to speak or write like that in general would sound affected (pretensious/strange) - Izanoni1, NOV 23, 2009
1
vote

"There is he," just doesn't really work, perhaps because of the pronoun.

Really? Because of the pronoun?. I am thoughtful.

updated NOV 23, 2009
posted by nila45
0
votes

"There he is " is the best way to say it

updated NOV 25, 2009
edited by MzChola
posted by MzChola
0
votes

There he is (ahí está él) If we say: "ahí él está" we are using the inversion because the normal way is the first one. If we say "ahí él está", it sounds poetic.

Thank you so much for this little bit of information on the nuances of the language. I have read in the past that Spanish is considered a "subject flexible" language because the subject can be placed before or after the verb and still be correct; whereas, English has been referred to as a "subject rigid" or "subject strict" language because the grammatically proper word order would be Subject-Verb-Object.

However, in poetry things like word order are often toyed with for effect, but when writing prose, the word order must follow a strict Subject-Verb word order to be grammatically correct.

By placing "there" before the verb, you are forcing "there," an adverb, to take on the characteristics of a pronoun, and this is why the sentence becomes somewhat poetic and indirect.

In that place is he

This word order allows one to emphasize the place rather than he. If "there" is used as a noun, which is the another option for a sentence, then the sentence becomes.

That place is he or He is *that place

You are actually saying that he is the same thing as "that place" which would be an example of faulty predication. The final option would be to use the word as an adverb which would allow two possibilities that would both retain the Subject-verb order of the sentence:

He is there and There he is

If you are interested in the subject of word order, here is a paper that touches on the topic: Word Order in Bilingual Spanish: Convergence and Intonation Strategy

updated NOV 25, 2009
posted by Izanoni1
0
votes

I had never studied the inversion from that point of view. Perhaps is a better way to understand it. smile

updated NOV 24, 2009
posted by nila45
0
votes

Izanoni, you are right. When I translate almost all your examples, the result is that they are similar to the style we use in poetry. I mean, when you change the word order.

We the Spaniards, only, would use that style when we write a poem. I hope there are more examples of inversion. I mean, it is not only used in poetry, is it?. It sounds too refined.

updated NOV 24, 2009
edited by nila45
posted by nila45
Izanoni, I have found very interesting your examples. - nila45, NOV 24, 2009
Thank you. - nila45, NOV 24, 2009
0
votes

"There is he" is grammatically correct, but it sounds weird or super old-fashioned, so don't use that word order.

updated NOV 23, 2009
posted by webdunce
0
votes

but: "There is he who stands by you..." is acceptable, as is "Here am I who waits patiently.."

updated NOV 23, 2009
posted by treex
Sounds a bit poetic to me...I would contend that you would not encounter a phrase such as this in standard contemporary writing (unless the author were attempting to wax poetic) and you would especially not be likely to hear this in everyday speech - Izanoni1, NOV 23, 2009
...(unless again, it the author were trying to be poetic). - Izanoni1, NOV 23, 2009
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