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Workers should be included in the planning for new factories or the introduction of robots into existing plants , so they can participate in the process . It may be that robots are needed to reduce manufacturing costs so that the company remains competitive, but planing for such cost reductions should be done jointly by labor and management.

<source>

What does <it> indicate?

Thank you in advance.

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@GBLSU posted:

Workers should be included in the planning for new factories or the introduction of robots into existing plants , so they can participate in the process . It may be that robots are needed to reduce manufacturing costs so that the company remains competitive, but planing for such cost reductions should be done jointly by labor and management.

<source>

What does <it> indicate?

Hi, GBLSU,

"It" refers to the situation, being similar to saying "It may happen that..."  Actually, we could say:

- The situation may be that robots are needed...

I'd probably have used this other structure:

- It may be the case that robots are needed to reduce manufacturing costs so that the company remains competitive...

where "it" anticipates "the case" (The case may be that robots...)

Hi, GBLSU,

"It" refers to the situation, being similar to saying "It may happen that..."  Actually, we could say:

- The situation may be that robots are needed...

I'd probably have used this other structure:

- It may be the case that robots are needed to reduce manufacturing costs so that the company remains competitive...

where "it" anticipates "the case" (The case may be that robots...)

Thank you for your confirmation. Actually, this is from  the government-administered university entrance exam in Korea. Of course, this is based on the book mentioned. I guess that as many of the students got confused about  what <it> refers to,  they got the test problem wrong.  I guess many thought <it> refers to something mentioned in previous sentence.

Can I think of <what you said> as a dummy subject, <it> or preparatory <it>?

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