Seems like (as If)

Hello, everyone! Very glad to meet you here.

1. He seems to be happy.
2. It seems that he is happy. (formal style)
3. It seems like (as if) he is happy. (informal style)

1. Sentence #1 ; I assume that 'to infinitive' functions as subject complement (that is, subject + intransitive verb + subject complement).

2. Sentence #2, 3 ; I assume that
1) 'it' functions as extraposed it to set up 'end focus',
2) the conjunctions - 'that' and 'like', 'as if' in informal style - lead not a subject complement but a real subject clause (that is, subject + complete intransitive verb + real subject clause).

In above Sentence #2, 3 'seems' is justified to function as an complete intransitive verb, which leads a real subject clause?


To summary my assumptions;

1. the 'seems' in the sentence #1 and #2, 3 are functioning different;

- sentence #1; 'seems' is an incomplete intransitive verb, which leads to infinitive - 'to be' - as a subject complement.
- sentence #2, 3; 'seems' is a complete intransitive verb, which leads with conjunctions - 'that, like, as if' - a real subject clause (not a subject complement clause) due to extraposed it.

2. Thus, the syntax isn't the same between the sentence #1, which begins with the personal pronoun - 'he', and the sentence #2, 3, which begins with the impersonal pronoun - 'it'.

Would hope to hear your bright opinions!

Original Post
deepcosmos posted:

1. He seems to be happy.
2. It seems that he is happy. (formal style)
3. It seems like (as if) he is happy. (informal style)

Hello, DeepCosmos, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about your examples. "Seem" is a special verb, and analyses of its grammar can get rather complex. In generative grammar, it is analyzed as a Raising Verb. If this interests you, I'll explain more.

I think it is OK for you to consider the infinitive (clause) "to be happy" as a subject complement in (1), just as "happy" may be analyzed as a subject complement in the shorter sentence "He seems happy."

I think it is also OK for you to analyze (2) as involving extraposition, just so long as you don't think it is possible to replace "it" with the "that"-clause. You cannot say, *"That he is happy seems."

You are right that "It seems like he is happy" is informal. As for "It seems as if he is happy," that is a bit more formal. The most formal version is with the subjunctive "were": "It seems as if he were happy."

David, Moderator posted:
deepcosmos posted:

1. He seems to be happy.
2. It seems that he is happy. (formal style)
3. It seems like (as if) he is happy. (informal style)

I think it is also OK for you to analyze (2) as involving extraposition, just so long as you don't think it is possible to replace "it" with the "that"-clause. You cannot say, *"That he is happy seems."

Many thanks for your reply, Mr.David.

I will really appreciate, if you let me know how you analyze above that, like (as if ) clauses in (2), (3) as a subject complement or a real subject, since it has been a difficult problem to me for long.

Best RGDS,

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