there, Would you please help me?

There's a rule in Aim High 6 (the book I'm teaching) says:

'it' can be used as a preparatory subject for an -ing form, especially in informal style. We often use it with adjectives.

And It cites the following examples:

  • It was amazing walking along the Great Wall.
  • It was interesting hearing what he had to say.

On the other hand, advisable as an adjective in Oxford Dictionary is followed by to + inf.

  • It is advisable to practise each exercise individually at first.

The question is: Is it right to say:

  • It's not advisable reading such stories before sleeping.

I know that we can say:

  • Reading such stories before sleeping is not advisable.

Another question:

Which adjectives should be followed by V+ing, and which ones should be followed by a full infinitive?

Is the matter similar to the Verb patterns topic?

Many thanks ...

  • It's not that clear which of these are questions you're asking and what are examples from the book. Commented May 14, 2019 at 6:41
  • Have you read all what I've typed? Again, Is it right to say: "It's not advisable reading such stories before sleeping."? Commented May 14, 2019 at 6:58
  • Personally, I would favor the rewriting "it is not advisable to read such stories before sleep". Commented May 14, 2019 at 13:02

3 Answers 3


It's not a matter of which adjectives can figure in extraposition. Generally, any adjective that can function as a predicative complement in the non-extraposed version is possible.

In general, NPs cannot be extraposed, and the fact that gerund-participials are more like NPs than infinitivals are is seen in the fact that they can invert with the subject in interrogatives, and this greater likeness to NPs is reflected in their being less readily extraposed than infinitivals or finite clauses.

I haven’t seen a detailed attempt to say when gerund-participials are OK in extraposition, but certainly some cases sound fine. But I remember that in early work in generative grammar it was said simply that extraposition could not apply to gerund-participials.


No, that doesn't work. You advise someone to do something, so the infinitive is also needed with advisable.

However, it would be possible to say It was interesting to hear what he had to say. I don't think it's possible to give a watertight rule as to which adjectives need a participle and which an infinitive.


There is not good answer to this question. But I must declare that I have, for a long time, now, regarded the so-called ‘gerund’ a weed that has spread unchecked through the language over the last 40 years.

Nevertheless, that does not prevent your example from being grammatically correct. The (so-called gerund phrase stands in apposition to the impersonal ‘it’, which is the subject of the sentence.

I don’t like it, because to me it is awkward and unnecessary. If the phrase is in apposition to the subject, why not place it in the subject position in the first place?

Reading such stories before sleeping is not advisable.

I should also prefer to avoid two gerunds in the same short sentence. I also agree with your second dictionary that in the sentence in question the preferable version is

It is not advisable to read such stories before sleeping.

But this alternative is preferable as a matter of style, not of grammar. It is simpler and clearer. It starts in the logical order: 1) topic (what the sentence is about - the ‘subject’); 2) predicate (what we have to say about it).

The order you ask about would work in a context like this. Charley is reading a horror story to little Maisie. Phil enters the room, looks shocked and seizes the book from Charley.

Charley - What do you think you’re doing?

Phil - It’s not advisable, reading such stories at bedtime.

This is OK because both Charley and Phil know the context. It is obvious the Phil is explaining his/her action. The ‘it’ of “It is not advisable” is obvious to both of them before the grammatical subject is mentioned. It just completes the sentence with the added inclusion of the (in the context) derogatory “such”).

But if the sentence were part of a list of do’s and don’ts with children it would be odd or at least clumsy )not incorrect) to use the gerund in this way.

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