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I've heard the following expression often and I have a few questions. .

I gave it a lot of thought.

  1. What is "it"? Is it dummy or something you are referring to? Does it sound differnt from "I thought about it a lot"?

  2. If it is something you are referring to (an idea, present, plan to buy a car, etc.), how can you give your thought to it as if they could receive your thought?

  3. If you change the above into a passive voice sentence, which one of the following two would it be?

"It was given a lot of thought" or "A lot of thought was given to it".

If you Google them, you get 184,000 hits for "I gave it a lot of thought", but you get 413,000 for "It was given a lot of thought", and 301,000 hits for "A lot of thought was given to it"

  1. Even though there are differences in the number of hits, I would still prefer using "I gave it a lot of thought" to using the 2 passive forms. Is there any difference in their meanings?
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  • "It' refers to "it" -- the topic of discussion. If the topic is gay marriage (and has not been further "subdivided"), the implication is that the speaker has thought a lot about gay marriage. Clearly, the sentence is meaningless out of context, since "it" will have nothing to reference, but sometimes the context doesn't "arrive" until the next clause in the sentence: "I gave it a lot of thought, and I feel that gay marriages are simply too happy -- one should have to suffer more than that in a marriage."
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 7, 2015 at 20:58
  • As a comment that lacks any authority, the first "I gave it a lot of thought" creates the impression that you held the idea and inspected it. You are in control. "I thought about it a lot" has the connotation of worry, it "feels" like the idea has intruded upon your mind and holds you in thrall, whether you want it or not.... Dec 9, 2020 at 11:14

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To me, it is referring in this idiom: the question, problem or issue. Gave means devoted or assigned.

Neither passive feels very comfortable to me, but I prefer the second (with the thought as the subject).

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  • Yes; 'gave' here is or is almost a delexical verb as in 'gave it a push'. Nov 7, 2015 at 22:21

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