Skip to main content

Hi, there,

There's a rule in Aim High 6 (the book I'm teaching) says:

'it' can be used as a preparatory subject or object for an -ing form, especially in informal style. We often use it with adjectives.

And It cites the following examples:

  • It was amazing walking along the Great Wall.
  • It was interesting hearing what he had to say. 


On the other hand, advisable as an adjective in Oxford Dictionary is followed by to + inf. 

  • It is advisable to practise each exercise individually at first.


The question is: Is it right to say:

  • It's not advisable reading such stories before sleep.


 I know that we can say:

  • Reading such stories before sleep is not advisable.


Another question:

Which adjectives should be followed by V+ing, and which ones should be followed by a full infinitive?

Is the matter similar to the Verb patterns topic? 


Many thanks ...

Last edited by Hussein Hassan
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Hi, Hussein,

This is indeed a very interesting topic.

To put it briefly, the possibility (or impossibility) to use a gerund in extraposition (anticipated by "it") has to do with the type of adjective, as you can see in this old thread.

While "advisable" belongs to the group of more objective adjectives that don't allow for the use of an extraposed gerund (necessary, urgent, vital, important, essential), "amazing" and "interesting" are more subjective in nature, being similar to pleasant, nice, strange, tough, difficult, and thus allow for a gerund after them.

Needless to say, more "emotional" adjectives accept the informality you mention of placing the gerund in extraposition, while more "rational" ones preclude that possibility as they tend to be more formal.


Last edited by Gustavo, Contributor
Hussein Hassan posted:

A. Objective/emotional adjectives

B. Subjective/rational adjectives


I think you've mixed them up. I'd say:

A. objective/rational adjectives
B. subjective/emotional adjectives

Group A adjectives are more formal, while group B adjectives are more informal and thus allow for this pattern you mentioned in your initial post:

'it' can be used as a preparatory subject or object for an -ing form, especially in informal style. We often use it with adjectives.

I don't think you will find a definition of group A and group B adjectives in a book, but I'm sure you can see the difference between:

A. It was important to see her. (NOT seeing her)
B. It was nice to see/seeing her.

While "important" defines or describes what it was like to see her, "nice" expresses what the speaker feels (or felt) after (or when) seeing her.

Last edited by Gustavo, Contributor

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.