"Are there people at the bank?"
Translation:В банку є люди?
It plays a role of "there is" in English. It's really tricky since we skip it all the time in other cases...
- Люди в банку -- Люди (є) в банку (є is usually skipped) = The people are in the bank.
- В банку люди = В банку є люди (both are equally common) = There are people in the bank.
So it depends on the word order apart from having or not having "є".
You can ask also: Є в банку люди? I think it's better.
It's a verb. I am = Я є.
For example: I am beautiful = Я є вродливий = Я вродливий.
Є в банку люди? is colloquial, informal and heavily context-dependent. Sounds weird as a stand-alone.
The most standard way is (where?) є (what?): Тут є коти? В банку є люди?
To invert the word order чи is used: Чи є тут коти? Чи є в банку люди?
P.S. Without that verb (є) the sentence does not make sense.
For example: is anybody here? = Є тут хто-небудь? (є хто живий?)
That's an example of a spoken way of asking, yes :)
P.S. This particular sentence should not be without є, it changes the meaning from "Are there people at the bank?" to "Are people at the bank?"
Why банку and not ' в банкі'. Why is this an exception for locative form?
Different words decline differently depending on the gender and the type of the ending.
Typically, for masculine in Locative the ending is -і if the noun ends with "softer" kinds of consonants. From my native speaker perspective, those consonants are easily softened by -і. For example, ні is very easy to pronounce, the н sounds soft like the Spanish ñ. But кі is hard and uncomfortable to pronounce, the softening of к is not so smooth.
So for example, these endings tend to have -і in Locative: -ж (на ножі), -з (у розрізі), -л (на столі), -м (у храмі), -н (у стані), -п (в окропі), -р (на дворі), -с (у лісі), -т (на капоті but в аеропорту). And all of the consonants are more or less easily softened.
The harder ones tend to have -у: -д (у саду, but for example also, у комоді), -к (у банку), -х (на даху).
As you can see, д and т are unclear, as their soft forms are quite OK. To be fair I myself had to search whether it's "в аеропорті" or "в аеропорту". I don't say this word often, so I forgot the form; and it sounds equally OK to me (so like, the neural network in my brain which decides what sounds natural and OK couldn't decide)
So, there is kind of a pattern, with some exceptions, I'm not entirely sure as I'm just basing this explanation on my feeling :) I couldn't find any "official" explanation so far.