What is the subject in the given sentence?

It’s not easy to do the right thing. What is the subject in the given sentence? I don’t think it’s obvious in this sentence. I was taught that subject is something, that performs the verb. But I don’t anything in this sentence that performs the verb. Any help would be appreciated. Answer It is the … Read more

“Git ‘er done”—use of “her” as dummy subject

This site has a number of questions and answers (e.g. this question) on the use of the third-person feminine pronoun (“she” or “her”) as a substitute for specific things like ships and hurricanes and even whales (“thar she blows!”). In certain rural dialects in the United States, however, one hears the third-person feminine pronoun her … Read more

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

I am very confused. Unless I am mistaken, I know “it” has to be a noun of some sort, but I am unable to figure out what noun “it” is referring to. What is “it” in the following sentence: It is clear that Bob likes doughnuts. Heres another couple of examples: It is impossible to … Read more

Dropping “it” in America

Before I embraced descriptive grammar it would really grind my gears when I heard, usually from someone with a US American accent, phrases like “I hate when that happens”. “Hate is a transitive verb!” I would yell. (To my knowledge it’s not normal to drop it in “UK English”.) However, these days I’m more mellow. … Read more

reversing extraposition

Let’s as­sume we have this sen­tence: It was the in­ven­tion of the hand-held cal­cu­la­tor that pro­vided the orig­i­nal tech­nol­ogy for the present gen­er­a­tion of small but pow­er­ful com­put­ers. I al­ready know that the word It is a “dummy” and here we have ex­tra­po­si­tional trans­for­ma­tion, which means we can replace It with the that-clause from the … Read more

“It’s cold outside” vs. “There is cold outside”

Why don’t we use “there is” when we’re talking about cold outside? What is the difference in meaning between “it’s cold outside” and “there is cold outside”? Update. Let me explain my question a bit. I know that “It’s cold outside” is correct. My real question is about the rule of a thumb when to … Read more

What is the grammatical explanation for an ‘It looks like …’ clause? (dummy subjects)

Recently, I have been trying to understand the nuances of language to turn myself into a better writer. This has led me to the ‘dummy subject’ or ‘dummy pronoun.’ I am clear on the function of ‘there,’ but ‘it’ has proven to be more confusing. I am aware of this subject being used to talk … Read more

What’s the underlying grammatical structure of this sentence with three instances of “it” and two of “being”?

I just encountered the following sentence in The Oxford Guide to Style (p. 161) and could not figure out its structure: Since it⁽¹⁾ is being presented as a direct quotation it⁽²⁾ is treated as one, it⁽³⁾ being immaterial that the words are not in English. Why can the the final instance of the pronoun it, … Read more

When was “it” first used in weather sentences?

It is raining. It’s a sunny day. I hate it when it rains. I’m prepared if it snows. It can be mighty cold at night! … etc. My questions: When did English speakers start using “it” when referring to weather conditions / activities? Or has this always been the case? Did people use to say … Read more