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I am reading a math article, and I encounter the expression as is easy to see.

First I thought it was a typo, but then I encountered it several other times.

So I came here to ask: is the expression as is easy to see grammatically correct?

  • Yes, why shouldn't it be? – BillJ Mar 24 '18 at 10:35
  • @BillJ I am used to hearing as it is easy to see... – E. Joseph Mar 24 '18 at 10:36
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    I see. All that has happened is that the pronoun "it" (the subject of the clause "is easy to see") is ellipted. The pronoun is anaphoric to some previously mentioned fact, i.e. the 'understood' missing subject. – BillJ Mar 24 '18 at 10:49
  • Also commonly heard is "as can easily be seen", again with a missing subject. – BillJ Mar 24 '18 at 11:08
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    "As is obvious/straightforward/apparent," are okay, too. And "as can easily be shown/as we shall now demonstrate". There is no "it". The function is that of a sentence adverb, – Greg Lee Mar 24 '18 at 11:10
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Yes. A parenthetical "as is [adjectival or nominal complement]" is very common, more in written than spoken English, I think.

The GloWbE corpus has over seven thousand instances of "as is [adjective]", (though some of them are the different construction "as [adjective] as is [adjective]", for example "as much as is easy for you").

Only eleven of them are "as is easy", and as it happens, none of these is "as is easy to see". But it does have "as is easy to show" and "as is easy to perceive".

Edit: prompted by E Joseph's and BillJ's comments, I looked for instances of "as it is [adjective]" in the corpus (which is not a construction I would use myself in this way). At first sight there are more instances (192 of "as it is easy"), but nearly all of them are a different construction with an object, eg "as it is easy to see the glass as half empty". There are no instances of "as it is easy to see" in the GloWbE corpus with the required meaning.

  • But the OP is asking about the missing "it". – BillJ Mar 24 '18 at 10:51
  • @BillJ. The OP might be asking about the missing 'it'. But since the OP makes no mention anywhere of "it", I don't see how you can assert that. To me, there is no missing 'it': on the contrary, an 'it' would be intrusive. – Colin Fine Mar 24 '18 at 11:01
  • 'As can easily be seen' needs rather more faith in the ellipting of an 'it'. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 24 '18 at 11:07
  • He mentions it as being his concern in his comment to me. – BillJ Mar 24 '18 at 11:07
  • @BillJ The expression as is easy to see sounded odd to me, and I thought it was missing an it. But the answer of ColinFine is great, and the expression I perceive the more natural is the one of EdwinAshworth as can easily be seen. – E. Joseph Mar 24 '18 at 11:56

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