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28 votes

'I think IT unlikely that our team can win'. <--Is IT the object?

This is an extraposition construction. In an extraposition construction, we use a meaningless dummy pronoun it in a position where, in terms of meaning, we'd like to use a clause. The dummy pronoun ...
Araucaria - Him's user avatar
19 votes
Accepted

Choice of “it” versus “he/she”

In a comment John Lawler wrote: It's my aunt at the door is grammatical, and therefore so is it's my aunt. The it is a dummy and doesn't refer to your aunt.
18 votes
Accepted

How to distinguish it-cleft and extraposition? 'It was Ben that found it' v 'It was clear that Ben found it'

It is clear [that Ben ate the cheese]. (extraposition) It is Ben [that ate the cheese]. (it-cleft) The examples above look very similar. They both have a meaningless dummy pronoun, it, as Subject, ...
Araucaria - Him's user avatar
15 votes

"XXXX it is, then" with plural nouns?

Context: Spoken language used in response to being told some other choice is not available or not germane to a situation. Person 1: "I would really like to buy pears for pie as well." Person ...
Lambie's user avatar
  • 15.1k
11 votes
Accepted

What is "it" in the following sentence: It is clear that Bob likes doughnuts

The it in both example sentences is, as noted, a "dummy it" -- that is, this it is not referential, and thus doesn't have any meaning, because meaning in pronouns is a matter of reference ...
John Lawler's user avatar
7 votes
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What is the grammatical explanation for an 'It looks like ...' clause? (dummy subjects)

The rule is called Extraposition. It applies to a sentential subject -- an infinitive clause or a that-clause, for instance: For him to leave early would be a good idea. (infinitive clause subject) ...
John Lawler's user avatar
7 votes

Can dummy "it" occur as possessive "its"?

As I'm sure you know, one of English's "small clause" constructions consists of a subject and a gerund phrase, where the subject may be either in the objective/accusative case ("them leaving was a ...
ruakh's user avatar
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6 votes
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"Git 'er done"—use of "her" as dummy subject

The feminine objective pronoun in get her done does not have a female animate or even a noun as an antecedent, but an action: “If he don’t get her done tonight we’ll be ter work bright an’ early in ...
KarlG's user avatar
  • 28.2k
6 votes

How to distinguish it-cleft and extraposition? 'It was Ben that found it' v 'It was clear that Ben found it'

Let's start with simpler examples, so the differences stand out. The easiest difference to spot between the two rules is that Extraposition inserts one dummy word, while It-cleft inserts three. I'll ...
John Lawler's user avatar
6 votes

How to distinguish it-cleft and extraposition? 'It was Ben that found it' v 'It was clear that Ben found it'

The phrase immediately after 'be' in the cleft construction is always related to a position inside the that-clause: It was in the apartment that Ben found something interesting. -> Ben found ...
Alan Munn's user avatar
  • 1,710
6 votes

"XXXX it is, then" with plural nouns?

Is it possible to use "... it is, then" with plural nouns? The example you give is somewhat idiomatic English. The "it" pronoun refers not to the apples, but to the chosen option. ...
bignose's user avatar
  • 424
5 votes
Accepted

reversing extraposition

[1] It was the in­ven­tion of the hand-held cal­cu­la­tor that pro­vided the orig­i­nal tech­nol­ogy for the present gen­er­a­tion of small but pow­er­ful com­put­ers. I can easily see why you think ...
BillJ's user avatar
  • 13.3k
4 votes

Choice of “it” versus “he/she”

'It' has been used as an ‘empty’ or 'dummy' subject It is ‘empty’ because it doesn’t refer to 'my aunt'. She is my aunt. 'She' refers to the lady. [ It's getting late. It's raining. ]
Mohammad Farukh Ahmad's user avatar
4 votes

Why is "it" used instead of "he/she" for human being in "it becomes a wise and virtuous man…"?

No. The sense of the passage is not "He/she becomes a wise and virtuous man" (?). It refers to having recourse to such things (relaxation from work), which Aquinas says is becoming (...
Kate Bunting's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

What is the function of the first "it" in "it is worth it"?

(Cambridge Dictionary) worth it enjoyable or useful despite the fact that you have to make an effort ♦ It was a long climb to the top of the hill, but the view from the top was worth it. (lexico) ...
LPH's user avatar
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3 votes
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What's the underlying grammatical structure of this sentence with three instances of "it" and two of "being"?

The parenthetical participle clause it being immaterial that the words are not in English is the result of Extraposition (with dummy it inserted) on the parenthetical participle clause ...
John Lawler's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

"It's cold outside" vs. "There is cold outside"

It is technically possible to say "there is cold" but there are certain caveats which must be noted. Google Books reports only 64 results for “there is cold” compared to 249,000 results for “it's cold”...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
  • 91.6k
3 votes

Choice of “it” versus “he/she”

There's a third option, which is the "singular they". This option is if the gender/person is unknown, but you know that they're a person. For instance, take this conversation: "Is ...
Robin Clower's user avatar
3 votes

Why is "it" used instead of "he/she" for human being in "it becomes a wise and virtuous man…"?

"It" is here the neutral pronoun; it is used in a grammatical turn called "extraposition of a subject clause" (Quirk, A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, § 2.59 ...
LPH's user avatar
  • 22.2k
2 votes

How to distinguish it-cleft and extraposition? 'It was Ben that found it' v 'It was clear that Ben found it'

It cleft: The simple form of the sentence is Ben found something interesting in the apartment -- a mouse eating cheese. In order to create an “it cleft”, some movement of the elements is required and “...
Greybeard's user avatar
  • 42.7k
2 votes

omission of semantic subject

According to the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, there are no non-finite constructions in which a subject is required (p1175). The part in question for her to write is a to-infinitival ...
DW256's user avatar
  • 9,300
2 votes
Accepted

What is the subject in the given sentence?

It is the subject. It's known as a dummy subject, which means that it fulfills the syntactic requirement for a subject without supplying any explicit meaning. This usage appears fairly common when ...
TaliesinMerlin's user avatar
2 votes

"I found it a strain having to concentrate for so long." Why does this sentence use 'having'?

'have to concentrate'(indicating meaning of obligation) I would say yes obligation. I found it a strain having to concentrate for so long in that exam. that makes it much more obvious doesn't it.
WendyG's user avatar
  • 2,429
2 votes
Accepted

Dropping "it" in America

"I hate when that happens" is a transitive usage of hate. The object is the clause "when that happens". Compare "I know he is lying", where "he is lying" is the object of the transitive know. Also "...
Mark Beadles's user avatar
  • 22.7k
2 votes

What's the underlying grammatical structure of this sentence with three instances of "it" and two of "being"?

Your highlighted text is what is called a nominative absolute, which is used to describe the subject of the main clause, the "direct quotation," but is essentially a separate clause in its own right, ...
WordNerdHouston's user avatar
2 votes

What is the function of the first "it" in "it is worth it"?

I think the first "it" refers to the job. But I don't think the second "it" necessarily refers to the hard work, because something being "worth it" is a set expression, ...
soysoymilk's user avatar
2 votes

Is there a linguistic reason why we sometimes use a singular pronoun and verb even when it refers to a plural subject?

In a comment John Lawler wrote: The plural in ones comes from the fact that herd is a group noun, and consists of individuals together. Also in a comment BillJ wrote: The pronoun “it” is not ...
2 votes

"What is it(,) to be a hero?"

You are correct that the use of a comma does indeed change the emphasis of the sentence. However, that is the only difference between the sentences. There is nothing grammatically incorrect about ...
FD_bfa's user avatar
  • 239
1 vote

"it" as a true/logical subject or preparatory subject

"It" refers to "probability" because probability theory is a part of statistical science according to a certain point of view (ref.).
LPH's user avatar
  • 22.2k
1 vote

What is the antecedent in this passage?

The subject of was is meaning. It refers to the entire language before so, as @BillJ says in his comment. As you can tell from comments, the punctuation is poor. It would have been better as two ...
Xanne's user avatar
  • 15.3k

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