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I've seen that people use "how easy is it to […]?" and "how easy is to […]?"

Another example could be:

I couldn’t ignore the barrage of research showing how easy it is to screw up your kids.

Could it be written as follows?

I couldn’t ignore the barrage of research showing how easy is to screw up your kids.

Admittedly, it sounds much better the first form, however, is there any rule regarding the use of it's versus is.

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Neil's answer is correct. I'd also like to point out that even though the words "it is" occur consecutively, this is not an appropriate situation to use the contraction "it's." – jackgill Jun 25 '11 at 18:25
@jackgill: Alright, good to know. Thanks! – Robert Smith Jun 25 '11 at 18:27
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Just ignore the second example: it's ungrammatical.

OK, that's a slightly glib response, but seriously: I don't think many native speakers would use your second example. Whereas, it's a common mistake among native speakers of pro-drop languages such as Spanish.

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Right, but why is it ungrammatical? – Robert Smith Jun 25 '11 at 18:25
It's ungrammatical because English native speakers always fill the subject position of a sentence (even if it's using a filler word like "there" rather than an actual subject). This contrasts with other so-called "pro drop" languages, where the subject need not be explicitly expressed (so in Spanish "es" = "it is", "he is" etc). On the other hand, the following "How easy to screw up your kids is" (implying "to screw up your kids" is the subject) is a bit more acceptable. But "How easy screwing up your kids is" sounds much more natural. – Neil Coffey Jun 25 '11 at 18:27
Great answer! Thanks. – Robert Smith Jun 25 '11 at 18:55
Note that you could, however, say: I couldn’t ignore the barrage of research showing how easy screwing up your kids is. – psmears Jun 25 '11 at 20:22
Yes, absolutely-- that was my last point. – Neil Coffey Jun 25 '11 at 21:10

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