Adverb groups

Types of meaning

Existing here & there

On the last page focussed on actions that happen here or there: stay here, go there, expand here, cut there.

But we also often use here and there in a way that's more abstract and existential.

For example, in this snippet, in what sense is the character's plan here?

Here was his plan: He knew the key was still in the keyhole. He could poke it from his side so it would fall out on the other side. It would land on the Monopoly card.

Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of DelawareM.T. AndersonSource

In print, here could mean literally 'right here on the page, immediately after this colon'; but spoken aloud it means something more abstract, like 'here, between us, was his plan'.

Here's another example: exactly where does the speaker not know what to say?

"Jack," he said, "I don't really know what to say here. I mean, you punched a kid. We have rules about that kind of thing, you know?"

WonderR.J. PalacioSource

Again, the meaning is abstract. 'Here' is not a physical place. The speaker means something more like, 'here, at this point in our conversation'.

We can see the same abstract use of the word there.

What does 'there' mean in this snippet?

There was not much to do in Pelt. There was a museum in town, but it wasn't very exciting.

Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of DelawareM.T. AndersonSource

It's a kind of existential 'there'. It makes the lack of things to do in Pelt very general.

Consider this alternative: 'Jasper did not have much to do in Pelt.'

This sentence focuses on what Jasper may or may not have to do. But there makes the statement apply to everyone—it's part of the existential fabric of the town.

Here are a couple more examples of using an existential 'here'

"Son, here's the thing: you show me some respect or I blow the reactor."

"Here we go," she sighed. "Another mystery."

Your turn

Here are a couple more examples using an existential 'there'

There are several varieties of vampire squid that give the coast guard concern this summer.

"I invite you to go there yourself and inspect the vats," he said, chuckling smugly. "You'll find there are no clones, only harmless flavoured jelly."

Your turn

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