What does this it~to construction mean?

His aunt and uncle hadn’t been able to think of anything else to do
with him, but before they’d left, Uncle Vernon had taken Harry aside.

   “I’m warning you,” he had said, putting his
large purple face right up close to Harry’s, “I’m warning you now, boy
— any funny business, anything at all — and you’ll be in that cupboard from now until Christmas.”
   “I’m not
going to do anything,” said Harry, “honestly..
But Uncle Vernon didn’t believe him. No one ever did.

   The problem was, strange things often happened around
Harry and it was just no good telling the Dursleys he didn’t make them
   Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Harry
coming back from the barbers looking as though he hadn’t been at all,
had taken a pair of kitchen scissors and cut his hair so short he was
almost bald except for his bangs, which she left “to hide that
horrible scar.” Dudley had laughed himself silly at Harry, who spent a
sleepless night imagining school the next day, where he was already
laughed at for his baggy clothes and taped glasses. Next morning,
however, he had gotten up to find his hair exactly as it had been
before Aunt Petunia had sheared it off He had been given a week in his
cupboard for this, even though he had tried to explain that he
couldn’t explain how it had grown back so quickly.
Another time, Aunt Petunia had been trying to force him into a
revolting old sweater of Dudley’s (brown with orange puff balls) —
The harder she tried to pull it over his head, the smaller it seemed
to become, until finally it might have fitted a hand puppet, but
certainly wouldn’t fit Harry. Aunt Petunia had decided it must have
shrunk in the wash and, to his great relief, Harry wasn’t punished.

   On the other hand, he’d gotten into terrible
trouble for being found on the roof of the school kitchens. Dudley’s
gang had been chasing him as usual when, as much to Harry’s surprise
as anyone else’s, there he was sitting on the chimney. The Dursleys
had received a very angry letter from Harry’s headmistress telling
them Harry had been climbing school buildings. But all he’d tried to
do (as he shouted at Uncle Vernon through the locked door of his
cupboard) was jump behind the big trash cans outside the kitchen
doors. Harry supposed that the wind must have caught him in mid- jump.

   But today, nothing was going to go wrong. It was
even worth being with Dudley and Piers to be spending the day
somewhere that wasn’t school, his cupboard, or Mrs. Figg’s
cabbage-smelling living room
. (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s

It seems like to infinitival phrase is the semantic subject, and it is the dummy-it. Or to infinitival seems like the complement for the previous worth being with Dudley and Piers, saying its reason. When I select the latter it’s not easy what do I have to refer to for it – that’s why I upload quite a lot contents. How do I understand the construction?


Your analysis is correct.

The underlying structure is

[Value] BE worth [Cost]
[Value This book] is worth [Cost $25].

Both Value and Cost may be represented by non-finite clauses.

[Value Having this book] is worth [Cost paying $25].
[Value Spending the day somewhere that wasn’t school, his cupboard, or Mrs. Figg’s cabbage-smelling living room ] was worth [Cost being with Dudley and Piers].

JKR has employed an It-cleft construction to put the Value piece in the stronger new-information position. In this construction, BE worth requires that the following Value piece be expressed as a to-infinitive:

It BE worth [Cost] to [Value].
It is worth [Cost $25] to [Value have this book].
It was even worth [Cost being with Dudley and Piers] to [Value be spending the day somewhere that wasn’t school, his cupboard, or Mrs. Figg’s cabbage-smelling living room].

Source : Link , Question Author : Listenever , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus

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