Frame 152, Page 98 – When does ‘it’ have meaning as a subject and when does ‘it’ not have meaning?

The book said that 'it' can have meaning or not. I can't understand the difference exactly. If 'it' is used as a complement, 'it' has a meaning. Is this right?

ANSWER:

The example in this frame is:

It is an interesting story about dinosaurs.

The subject "it" in this sentence is a pronoun. A pronoun refers a specific noun. For example, if we ask the question, "What is the interesting story about dinosaurs that 'it' refers to?" we can expect there to be an answer. In other words, it would be possible to write another noun in place of "it" in the above sentence.

When another noun or noun phrase can be substituted for "it" in the subject position, "it" has meaning.

Now, consider this example:

It is said to be an interesting story about dinosaurs.

If we try to think of another noun that can be substituted for "it" in the subject position here, we would find it to be quite impossible. That is because "it" in this sentence does not refer to a specific noun. "It" has no meaning here because it is a dummy subject.

I hope this helps.

Work hard and be successful,

Professor iEnglish



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Frame 154, Page 94 – Why is ‘it’ a dummy subject in this example?

In frame 154 there is the sentence, "It is interesting to study dinosaurs." The book says that "it" refers to nothing specific so it is a dummy subject. I think it refers to "study dinosaurs." Is it wrong?

And in frame 155, the book says that this sentence is SVC. I also can't understand why this sentence is SVC.

ANSWER:

Let's begin by writing this sentence somewhat differently:

It is interesting.

When we ask, "What is interesting?" is it possible to answer the question?

Yes, one answer could be "studying dinosaurs."

Now, let's see if it's possible to substitute another noun or noun phrase for "it" in this sentence.

________ is interesting.

Can you think of another noun or noun phrase that can be written in the blank?

Let's try: studying dinosaurs

Studying dinosaurs is interesting.

Yes, that makes good sense.

The "it" in "It is interesting," is a pronoun and has meaning.

Let's now go back to the example in frame 94:

It is interesting to study dinosaurs.

First try to ask, "What is interesting to study dinosaurs?" (The "to study dinosaurs" must be included in this What-question.) As you can see, this question does not even make sense.

Let's see if it's possible to substitute another noun or noun phrase for "it" in this sentence.

________ is interesting to study dinosaurs?

Can you think of another noun that can be written in the blank?

I can't.

The "it" in "It is interesting to study dinosaurs," is a dummy subject and has no meaning.

As for your other question, the verb in this simple sentence is "be." Any clause with "be" as the main verb is an SVC clause.

I hope this helps.

Work hard and be successful,

Professor iEnglish


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Frame 156, Page 90 – What is the logical subject in this example?

What is the logical subject in this example:

"It is believed that dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago."

ANSWER:

Clauses or sentences with "it" as the dummy subject do not have logical subjects.

Only those with "there" as the dummy subject have logical subjects.

The purpose of the logical subject is to provide subject-verb agreement for the verb. (See frame 149.)

However, when sentences begin with "it" the verb is always the singular form of the verb, i.e. "It is..." or "It was..."

I hope this helps.

Work hard and be successful,

Professor iEnglish

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