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Is it considered grammatical to refer to a gerund in the subject position with the pronoun "it"?

Visiting a dentist regularly is recommended as it can contribute to overall health.

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Fishing is permitted here, isn't it? – GEdgar Oct 14 '11 at 20:25
@GEdgar It is clear that that is not the it that you think it is. – tchrist Feb 1 '12 at 23:49

Sure. Using the pronoun it there is perfectly grammatical.

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Gerunds are words derived from verbs that are used as nouns; they can be used as subject of a sentence, and (as with every noun) you can replace them with pronouns.

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+1 for a good explanation of why. – zpletan Oct 15 '11 at 12:55
Gerunds aren't used as nouns though. Gerunds can take subjects and objects. In this example, the gerund visiting has the object the dentist. If I replace the gerund with a noun, the result is ungrammatical: Visitation a dentist regularly is recommended. – morphail Oct 15 '11 at 14:27
@morphail Actually, I would not use visitation because it means " an official or formal visit." The fact gerunds function as nouns doesn't mean you can always replace them with another noun. – kiamlaluno Oct 15 '11 at 16:30
@kiamlaluno My point is that a nouns and gerunds occupy certain syntactic slots. You can't put a noun in the slot that a gerund occupies. If gerunds were nouns, then I should be able to replace them with other nouns. For instance, dentist is a noun, and I can replace it with another noun: Visiting a house regularly is recommended. The sentence might not make sense, but it is grammatical because the noun is in the right place. But if I replace visiting with a noun, then the result is ungrammatical: Visitation a dentist regularly is recommended. A gerund is not a noun. – morphail Oct 15 '11 at 17:07
@morphail I didn't write that a gerund is a noun; I wrote that gerunds function as nouns (or they are used as nouns). The fact you cannot always replace a gerund with a noun is not different from the fact you cannot always replace a noun with another noun. Take as example "the lions roar"; lions is a noun, but you cannot replace it with lambs, and obtain "the lambs roar." – kiamlaluno Oct 15 '11 at 17:12

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