Skip to main content

Dear teachers,

It is common in English to use it as a preparatory subject when an infinitive is the subject of a sentence.

It is necessary to wear a tie.

I also understand this rule is comparatively uncommon in a gerund.
Then, how about the following examples?
Do they sound very awkward?
I would like to know the degree of the unacceptability of the expressions.

(A) It is necessay wearing a tie.
(B) It is necessary being registered on this forum.

In (B), I intentionally took the form of a passive gerund (being registered) as I think it would be possible that (A) is acceptable but (B) is not.
If my wild guess correct, it might be not because of the usage of gerund with preparatory "it" but the passive gerund (being regiestered), which seems to sounds too formal or unnatural to the natives.
I will thank you for your good advice.
Last edited {1}
Original Post
Hi Yun

Both (A) and (B) sound wrong/awkward to me. Sentence (A) sounds as if "it" refers to something other than "wearing a tie" -- i.e. it sounds as if you are trying to say that something is necessary when you are wearing a tie.

Oddly enough, saying "Wearing a tie is necessary" is just fine.

Off the top of my head, I would say the only time you might hear something similar to (A) or (B) is when the end of the sentence comes as an afterthought which clarifies. For example:

- It is necessary. Wearing a tie, that is.
- It is necessary -- being registered on this forum, I mean.
Last edited by Amy, Co-Moderator
Thank you, Amy.

In fact, my question is not confined to 'necessary' only.
Basically, it is the one about the usage of a preparatory (provisonal) subject "it" and a gerund.
As I mentioned, I know that you use 'it' as a preparatory subject when to infintive is the subject of a sentence.
On the contrary, you don't put "it" in the place of a subject when a gerund is the subject.
There are some exceptions, though.
Do I understand correctly?
May I double check with the following sentence?

* It is important saving money.

Does it also sound as if something is important in saving money, not saving money is important?

ps) You are a new face to me. May I ask if you are engaged in English teaching or something so?
Last edited by yun
If I may ...

That's just ungrammatical, Yun. When you use the anticipatory it, a gerund doesn't normally follow.

As Amy pointed out, if you create a gerund noun phrase at the beginning of the sentence, then it's fine. That's why Wearing a tie is necessary works. But It's necessary wearing a tie doesn't.

The other point Amy made is a good one. If, in conversation, a speaker uses the dummy subject it and then wants to make sure the listener understands what he means by saying it, he'll add that information for clarification:

A: I'm wondering whether I really have to wear a tie when I go for that job interview.
B: Yes, it's necessary, wearing a tie.

But please keep in mind that this is not the usual construction with anticipatory it, Yun.

Your final example sentence should also be It is important to save money or Saving money is important.
'It is necessary' is followed by an infinitive. We could also insert 'for' + a noun or pronoun. The phrase could also be followed by a 'that' clause:

  • It is necessary to study this subject.
  • It is necessary for us to study this subject.
  • It is necessary that we study this subject.

    Adjectives like 'necessary' -- those expressing importance, necessity, or urgency -- are not followed by an -ing form.

    Some adjectives can be followed by an -ing form, as in these sentences:

    It's nice being here.
    It's nice seeing you again.
    It's pleasant being here.
    It's pleasant listening to the birds.
    It's difficult being here when I know my daughter is in trouble.
    It's difficult driving along in this weather.
    It's strange being here.
    It's strange leaving so early.

    The adjectives in the sentences above can also be followed by the infinitive.

    It's the adjectives of necessity and urgency, like 'necessary,' that cannot be followed by the -ing form:

    It's necessary getting up early.
    It's important arriving on time.
    It's vital telling the truth.
  • Dear Rachel,
    I am sorry for my belated thank you.
    This is a very tough subject to me.
    I also found the following example in LDCE. Smile
    It's tough being married to a cop.
    My agony is why some adjectives can take the form of "it is ... doing" and the others can't.
    It is one of the hardest parts of English for me.
    When there is no clear rule, it is not easy for a foreigner like me to simply memorize them as an idiomatic usage.
    Anyway, I need to dig it some more.
    Thank you for your advice once again.

    Add Reply

    ×
    ×
    ×
    ×
    Link copied to your clipboard.
    ×