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I want to find more detailed explanation about the following pattern. For me, this grammatical structure sounds special.

  • Windows makes it easier for you to install the program.
  • You may find it difficult to locate the bug.

Subject + Verb + Object + Adjective + To Infinitive + Object

Please elaborate as complete as you can how to use this structure.

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To me, the first example is ungrammatical. Did you mean "It makes it easier ... " ? –  Colin Fine Oct 16 '12 at 17:51
    
I cannot work out what you mean by "topic". If you mean, what would I look it up under, try "Dummy pronoun". –  Colin Fine Oct 16 '12 at 17:53
    
@ColinFine: I have changed the question a bit. Thanks. –  stalking is prohibited Oct 16 '12 at 18:05
    
These sentences all have object complements, and all have verbs that can take object complements. Is this what you're asking about? –  Peter Shor Oct 16 '12 at 19:38

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

First of all,

S + V + O + Adj + to Inf + O

is not a single construction. It is a string that can be the result of a large number of possible derivations.

Second, everything in such constructions depends crucially on what that V is. Not all predicates take infinitive complements, and of those that do, some allow for to mark the infinitive subject, and some don't; some have indirect object and others don't; some allow to to mark the infinitive verb, and others don't, etc.

There are a lot of variations, all depending on the matrix predicate. To see just how many, see here.

As to the two sentences provided,

Windows makes it easier for you to install the program.

comes from something like

  • Windows makes [for it to be easier [for you to install the program]]

i.e, there are three clauses here: one has make as its predicate, one has be easier, and the third has install. The middle clause has undergone Extraposition, which produces the dummy it, from

  • ... [for you to install the program] be easier

Notice that make takes an infinitive without to (make it work but not *make it to work), and auxiliary be is deleted before stative predicate adjectives (make it tasty but not *make it be tasty).

Easy/easier, the predicate of the second clause, takes an infinitive subject complement; if the subject of the infinitive is specified, it must take for.

The second sentence

You may find it difficult to locate the bug.

Also has three clauses, and again the second one has a predicate adjective infinitive (to be difficult) with to deleted because it's a complement of find. That clause has also undergone Extraposition from

  • ...[(for you) to locate the bug] be difficult

However, unlike the first sentence, the dummy it from extraposition has been B-Raised from being the subject of (be) difficult, to become the direct object of find. The last clause has lost its subject (for you) by Equi from the subject of find.

This is the kind of problem one encounters when treating grammar as composed of strings of words or word types. Grammar is constructions, not strings, and constructions are almost always governed by predicates. Without knowing the clause and predicates, it's impossible to talk about grammar usefully.

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1  
Hear, hear! But you buried the lede. Your final sentence should be raised to headline status. Anyway, +1. –  Robusto Oct 16 '12 at 20:42

The first one is an "inflected infinitive", in that you is the subject of to install. It actually takes the "wrong" case, in that it takes object case, as is more easily shown in "It is easier for me to install the program." There, you can see that me is functioning as a subject.

I forget what this is called, but it does have a name.

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protected by RegDwigнt Dec 10 '12 at 10:18

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