What is an expletive sentence?

For example, let's look at the following sentence: "There is a water bottle on my desk." This sentences portrays an example of expletive construction.

Expletive: An empty word that doesn't add additional meaning to a sentence; commonly "there," "this," or "it."

Here are a couple additional definitions from the web. 




While these sentences are not technically "wrong," they do reflect poor, lazy, and ambiguous writing.

For example, let's look at the following sentence: "There is a water bottle on my desk." This sentences portrays an example of expletive construction.

You see, "there" is acting as a subject but doesn't have a clear antecedent and is essential just a filler work. What does "there" mean? A reader can make sense of the sentence but makes assumptions to do so. A more clear way of writing the previous example sentence is to write "I keep a water bottle on my desk."
This diagrammed example is from mrclements.com (another great post).

Where did "there is" go?

Away.

Do we miss it?

No. 

Is the sentence more clear?

Yes. 

Do we have to figure out whether "there is" or "there are" is the correct usage? (Based on subject-verb agreement)

No. We've eliminated the poor usage, made the sentence stronger, and avoided the issue of subject-verb agreement. 

Go ahead and take a look at Grammar Girl's well-researched explanation of the usage. She has some great examples and dives into the topic more.

 
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