It as a preparatory subject

You are here: Home > English usage > It as a preparatory subject

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

Clause subjects

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

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

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.

with if, as if and as though

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

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

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

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

Its and it’s

Its is a possessive word like his and my.

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

See also

Ill and Sick
If I were you
In case and if
If and unless
In spite of
Interesting, interested, exciting, excited etc.
Inversion of subject and verb
Is, am and are
It
It's and its

Search the Dictionary of Practical English Usage

A    |     B    |     C    |     D    |     E    |     F    |     G    |     H    |     I    |     

J    |     K    |     L    |     M    |     N    |     O    |     P    |     Q    |     R    |     

S    |     T    |     U    |     V    |     W    |     X    |     Y    |     Z

Show Full Index