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"You can't imagine the freaky sense of time travel and second youth it will bring you to watch them."

Is this sentence grammatical? I wonder if the clause "it will bring you to watch them" should be separated to be another sentence. And what does the pronoun "it" in this sentence refers to?

I found this sentence from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/digitize-those-memory-filled-cassettes-before-they-disintegrate/

  • This is a very ugly sentence but it has the same structure as the following sentence: "You can't imagine the excitement it will bring you to watch them." This sentence sounds perfectly fine to my ear, so your sentence is grammatical for me (others might have different judgments of grammaticality since this sentence is "on the fence", so to speak). "It" is a kind of dummy or (possibly) anaphoric pronoun which refers to something like the act of watching. – GoldenGremlin Sep 21 '16 at 13:34
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    It is grammatical but it's a garden-path sentence alright. I had to go back and re-start reading to get the desired parse tree. Suboptimal. – RegDwigнt Sep 21 '16 at 13:58
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Is this sentence grammatical?

Yes. Not a great sentence perhaps, but a valid one. I find it more tolerable in the context of the article though. For one thing considering isolated sentences can make one prissier than normal. For another, it has less of a garden-path quality in the context the preceding sentence gives it.

I wonder if the clause "it will bring you to watch them" should be separated to be another sentence.

Just that edit alone, certainly not. Doing that would break off a subordinate clause that would then make no sense. I might revise to "watching them will bring you" or something different again, but I certainly wouldn't just orphan a subordinate clause like that.

And what does the pronoun "it" in this sentence refers to?

The act of watching them [them being the digitised videotapes the article discusses].

  • If "it will bring you to watch them" is a subordinate clause, can I add the word "that" before it? It will become "You can't imagine the freaky sense of time travel and second youth that it will bring you to watch them. Because I can't explain why the pronoun "it" is introduced in that position. I actually think this sentence is a run-on sentence. – DaffyM Sep 23 '16 at 11:04
  • You could introduce that there and it would have the same meaning (IMO the that makes it clearer, though others might disagree). It's not a run-on because "it will bring you to watch them" doesn't make sense on its own (or worse, means something different, on its own that means some unidentified [perhaps from an earlier sentence] it will make it come about that you watch them). – Jon Hanna Sep 23 '16 at 12:35

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