It As A Preparatory Subject | English Grammar

When the subject is an infinitive expression, the sentence often begins with it. Preparatory it is common before be + adjective/ noun complement.

  • It is difficult to accept your advice. (More natural than To accept your advice is difficult.)
  • It is easy to learn English.
  • It is not easy to understand his motive.
  • It must be tempting to get such an offer.
  • It could be dangerous to drive so fast.

Clause subjects

We also normally use preparatory it when the subject of a clause is itself another clause.

  • It is true that he was once a terrorist. (More natural than That he was once a terrorist is true.)
  • It does not matter whether it rains or not. (More natural than Whether it rains or not doesn’t matter.)
  • It is certain that he left the place in haste.
  • It is clear that he overheard our conversation.

-ing form subjects

When the subject is a phrase that includes a gerund, it is used as a provisional subject to begin the sentence. This is usually rather informal.

  • It is no good your trying to deceive us. (More natural than Your trying to deceive us is no good.)
  • It is no fun having so many children to look after.
  • It is just silly throwing away your chances like that.
  • It was a tough job starting the car with such a weak battery.

It is often possible to use the structure for + infinitive instead of the gerund.

  • It won’t be any good for me to talk to him about it. (=It won’t be any good my talking to him about it.)
  • It is no use for us to try to convince him of this.(=It is no use our trying to convince him of this.)

With seem, appear and look

Introductory it is also used with seem, appear and look when the subject is an infinitive phrase, a phrase that includes a gerund or a clause.

  • It seemed strange to see him there.
  • It seems that he forgot to buy the tickets.
  • It appeared unwise to offend him.
  • It looks improper to behave like that.

With if, as if and as though

It is used to introduce some clauses with if, as if and as though.

  • It will be a pity if we have to ask her to leave.
  • It looks as though we may have to go.

It as a preparatory object

We can sometimes use it as a preparatory object. This happens when the object of a verb is an infinitive expression or a clause with an adjective or a noun complement.

Note the word order: subject + verb + it + complement + infinitive/clause

  • He made it clear what he wanted.
  • We think it odd that she never visits us these days.
  • Don’t you think it dangerous to swim in these rough waters?

Note that this structure is not normally used when there is no adjective or noun complement after the verb.

  • I remember that she was very upset. (NOT I remember it that —)
  • I cannot bear to see people crying. (NOT I cannot bear it to see —-)

But note the structure I love/like/hate it when —

  • I love it when she smiles.

Its and it’s

Its is a possessive word like his and my.

  • Every country has its traditions.

It’s is the contracted form of it is or it has.

  • It’s raining again. (NOT Its raining —)
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Manjusha Nambiar

I am the founder and editor of http://www.perfectyourenglish.com, http://www.ielts-practice.org, and http://ncertguides.com

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