Es sind nur ein paar Tropfen Regen gefallen.

English Translation

Only a few drops of rain have fallen.

Could this have also been written “Nur ein paar Tropfen Regen sind gefallen,” without the initial “Es”? If so, what is the reasoning for “Es”?

Oh, I know this one - “es” here is what they call a topic placeholder. We have something very similar in English with sentences like “it’s raining outside” or “it’s very warm in here”. But in German, it can be used in ways that would make no sense at all if literally translated back into English:

A man walks along the street = Ein Mann läuft die Straße entlang

A man walks along the street = Es läuft ein Mann die Straße entlang

The two German sentences are equivalent, even though the second one looks literally like “it walks a man along the street”, which just doesn’t work in English.

So, to answer your question, yes, there are many German sentences where the topic placeholder is optional, and your alternate translation here would (I think) work just as well.


In fact, in this case, you could phrase it similarly in English: “it’s only a few raindrops that have fallen”.