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English Grammar: 'Here' and 'There', what's the difference?

4 min read
12 February, 2021

The words here and there are used frequently in English grammar; you just can’t do without them!

Most learners know that both these words are to do with space. However, it can be really difficult to work out their exact meanings. A lot of different countries not only have different words for space, but different ideas about how people interact with spaces. I’ll show you what I mean.


‘Here’ and ‘there’ in English

Let’s start with the dictionary definition of these words in English.

Here; Adverb. In this place, spot, or locality. “Come here and give me that apple.”
The word ‘here’ is used to describe things that are in the immediate space around the speaker, and sometimes by extension, their conversation partner. It can be used to describe a space of any size, ranging from a centimeter to the size of an entire country.
The easiest way to think of ‘here’ is as a space of any size that has the speaker at the very center.

There; Adverb. In that place (the opposite of here). “Go over there and get that apple”
The word ‘there’ is the opposite of ‘here’ and is used to describe spaces away from the speaker. It can refer to the space around a conversation partner, or away from both speakers. Just like ‘here’ it can be used to describe an area of any size.
The easiest way to think of ‘there’ is as a space that has something at the center that is not the speaker.


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‘Here’ and ‘there’ in other languages

Other languages use very different words to describe space. A fun example is Japanese, which uses not two but three different words:

Koko: the space around me

Soko: the space around you

Asoko: the space away from both of us

Portuguese, Armenian and Ukrainian also use three types. There are even languages which use FOUR different types, such as Northern Sami – a language used in the northern areas of Norway, Sweden and Finland.


Extra fact: The special group of words that ‘here’ and ‘there’ belong to is called spatial demonstratives. They are special because in every language on the planet they are some of the most frequently used words. What words for space do you use in your native language?


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