There were three of us

“There were three of us”

When telling a story or describing something, it’s quite common to have to talk about the number of people or things at any place in time.  In English we have a rather precise way to do this, so today we’re going to shed some light on this strange construction.  The sentence: “There were three of us,” means Éramos tres and many Spanish speakers have the tendency to say, “We were three”—but that’s incorrect! In English, if we want to express the idea of how many people or things were at a certain event/involved in a situation, we need to use:

·         The verb there is/there are OR it +to be (these can be conjugated in the past, present or future, depending on the situation)
·         The number of people or things
·         "of"
·         The accusative form of the personal pronoun (us, you, them).  Remember, since we’re counting, we’re only going to be using plural pronouns.

This little formula should be helpful but let’s look at some examples to make sure it’s clear.

How many books were there in your bag?
There were four of them.

How many students are there in your class?
There are 31 of us.

How many of us are going to participate in the concert?
I’m not; I think it will be just the two of you.

Obviously you could respond to these questions in other ways: “There were four books in your bag”; “there are 31 students in my class”; or “only you two will participate in the concert”.  However, this construction is a great way to show your domination of one of the intricacies of the English language, so try it out!

Here are a few examples to practice on (feel free to make up the answers):

·         How many people are in your family?
·         How many books are on your bookshelf?
·         How many employees are there in your job?
·         How many people were in that restaurant?
·         How many balls are on the field? 

Abigail Franckquepohl | 121 Conversation
Autora: Abigail Franckquepohl
Profesora en 121 Conversation. Nacida en Nueva York, se ha trasladado a España para conocer otra cultura y otro idioma. Es profesora acreditada con el TEFL y lleva cinco años dando clases de inglés para extranjeros.

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