I've been seeing a lot of tweets/comments/posts with the following structure: "It's almost as if [obvious observation]".

Ignoring how terrible this trend is, what is an appropriate word or phrase for the "it's almost as if" part?

I believe there's a term for this type of commonly-used subordinate clause at the beginning of a sentence. The fact that my example is idiomatic is probably relevant to what I'm looking for. The fact that my example is sarcastic/ironic is probably irrelevant.

EDIT: As pointed out by John Lawler in the first comment, this is actually not even a subordinate clause like I originally thought.

  • 2
    Actually, starters like It's almost as if ... aren't subordinate clauses. They're main clauses that have been drafted into service as mood setters for a subordinate clause containing some observation, as you say. Consider how many words there are in It's almost as if and contrast that with how little it says. The meaning has been bleached out of the main clause and now it's effectively on other duty. This is how language changes. – John Lawler Jan 4 '19 at 4:17
  • Classically, intros were (and still are supposed to be) subordinate. Usage has shifted the focus as Prof. Lawler explained above. – Kris Jan 4 '19 at 7:06
  • It's not an introduction and it's certainly not a subordinate clause. There is no overt marker or other indication of subordination, so how could it be? No doubt there would be a subordinate clause later on, e.g. It's almost as if they came from another planet, where "it" is the subject of the sentence (here, the main clause) and is almost as if they came from another planet is the predicate VP. An example of an introductory clause would be: [Having read the report], I'm inclined to agree. – BillJ Jan 4 '19 at 8:46

It is an "introductory" and can be a clause, a phrase or just a word.

Introductory Clauses (Purdue OWL)

Introductory clauses are dependent clauses that provide background information or "set the stage" for the main part of the sentence, the independent clause. For example:
If they want to win, athletes must exercise every day.
(introductory dependent clause, main clause)
Because he kept barking insistently, we threw the ball for Smokey.
(introductory dependent clause, main clause)

Introductory clauses start with adverbs like after, although, as, because, before, if, since, though, until, when, etc.

See also:
The sections on "Introductory Phrases" and "Introductory Words" that immediately follow the above.

Some resources consider introductory clauses a class of their own separate from subordinate.

Cory's Guide, Utah State Univ.:

By 1700 BC, wheat could not be grown in Mesopotamia due to salinization of the soil."

intro: “By 1700 BC,”
main: “wheat could not be grown in Mesopotamia,”
dependent: “due to salinization of the soil.”

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