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Chapter 9: Verb Patterns with it

In this chapter we describe verb patterns in which the Subject or Object is always the word it. In these patterns it has two basic uses. It may function as a `dummy' Subject or Object pointing forward to a clause somewhere else in the sentence, in which case we call it introductory it. Or it may refer vaguely to a general situation, and not point anywhere else in the sentence. In this case we call it general it. This chapter contains the following sections:

  • 1 Introductory it as Subject
  • 2 Introductory it as Object
  • 3 General it as Subject
  • 4 General it as Object
1 Introductory it as Subject

In all the patterns described here, the clause begins with introductory it, which is the Subject of the clause. Although it is the Subject, it does not contribute to the meaning of the clause, and is often known as a `dummy' Subject. English prefers to have old information at the beginning of a clause and new information at the end of a clause. If a clause does not contain any old information, having it as Subject allows all the new information to be placed at the end of a clause. For example, the clause It is difficult to see what you mean has two pieces of new information: difficult and to see what you mean. You could say To see what you mean is difficult, but then some of the new information would be at the beginning of the clause. In the clause beginning with it, none of the new information comes at the beginning of the clause.

In spoken English, the word it is sometimes omitted, especially with the verbs look, seem and sound, e.g. Looks as if we're out of luck, Seems he knows all the answers, Sounds as if it runs in the family. The same thing occurs with the phrase it stands to reason, e.g. Stands to reason he stole it. In the case of be, some nouns and adjectives sometimes occur without it is, e.g. Pity you didn't let me know.

All the patterns described here contain a clause such as a that-clause or a to-infinitive clause. All these are new clauses, with their own structures.

The patterns with introductory it as Subject fall into six pattern groups:

  • Pattern group 1: it V clause
  • Pattern group 2: it V to n clause
  • Pattern group 3: it V prep clause
  • Pattern group 4: it be V-ed clause
  • Pattern group 5: it V n clause
  • Pattern group 6: it V adj clause
Pattern group 1: it V clause

There are five patterns in this group, each consisting of it, the verb, and a type of clause:

  • 1.1 it V that
  • It seemed that I was right.
  • 1.2 it V to-inf
  • It helps to talk. 519
  • 1.3 it V wh
  • It doesn't matter what you think.
  • 1.4 it V when/if
  • It hurts when you forget to write.
  • 1.5 it V as if/as though/like
  • It sounds as if they made a dreadful mistake.
1.1 it V that

The verb is followed by a that-clause.

itVerb groupthat-clause
SubjectVerbClause
Itemergedthat smoking reduces life-expectancy.
It seemedthat he would keep his word.
Ittranspiredthat the gunman had been released from jail.

Verbs with this pattern belong to the following meaning groups:

1 The `emerge' group 2 The `appear' group 3 The `hurt' group
1 The `emerge' group

These verbs indicate that something happens or becomes known, or that something is logically the case. With some verbs the word that is often omitted, as in It happened I was there at the time.

  • It never really clicked that I was homeless until I had been on the streets a couple of months.
  • It emerged that he had a violent criminal record, of which the welfare agencies had been unaware.
  • Doug was a good man when I knew him, but that had been a lot of years ago. And it figured that there was a solid case against him.
  • Since sound is actually the motion of molecules, it follows that the fastest speed with which the air molecules can get out of the way is the speed of sound.
  • It happened that we had a number of very competent women so it was not difficult to pick a woman to do it.
There are five phrasal verbs with this meaning, listed below. Their pattern is it V P that.
  • How did it come about that a man so shrewd and wise as David should fall for such a blatantly obvious confidence trick?
  • What'll happen is, it'll come out that he didn't shoot himself, Jack shot him.
  • If it does turn out that the inspectors have found highly enriched uranium, this raises a number of questions.
click emerge figure follow happen transpire
come about come out get around/round leak out turn out

The old-fashioned verb group come to pass also has this pattern.

520 After the war, it came to pass that he did not resume his medical studies.
2 The `appear' group

These verbs are concerned with what a situation is, or seems to be. They are all link verbs (see Chapter 5). The word that is often omitted, as in the clause It seems you understand me.

  • A police spokesman said it appeared that the bag had contained two tubes filled with pieces of lead which flew into the air injuring the eleven people.
The verb be is not usually used alone in the affirmative in this pattern. The following types of clause are frequent: negative clauses; clauses in which be follows a modal; and clauses including an adverb such as just or simply.
  • He was to be a priest, so, she thought, it could not be that he was interested in her.
  • This doesn't necessarily mean that sport can improve your emotional health; it could simply be that people with a more extrovert personality are more likely to enjoy sports in the first place.
appear be seem
3 The `hurt' group

These verbs indicate how someone feels about the event indicated by the that-clause.

  • Hundreds of people attended the wake and funeral. It helped that so many people cared. I felt stronger when people were around.
  • I have been wanting to write to you since day one. It hurts that you cannot see this.
  • The bigger the cost, the more it matters that the money should not be wasted.
help hurt matter rankle
1.2 it V to-inf

The verb is followed by a to-infinitive clause.

itVerb groupto-infinitive clause
SubjectVerbClause
Itmay helpto talk about it.
Ithurtto breathe.
Itpaysto shop around for the best deals.

Three of the verbs with this pattern indicate that something is helpful to someone, or is a good thing.

  • Different building societies offer different services so it pays to shop around.
The verb do usually occurs in negative clauses.
  • I'm learning the language. A career diplomat has to. It doesn't do to have to use translators all the time.
(not) do help pay

There are two other verbs with this pattern.

521 Though his case was far from complete, he was convinced he was right. It remained to convince his superiors.
hurt remain
1.3 it V wh

The verb is followed by a wh-clause. There is only one verb with this pattern.

  • I don't think it matters what you really are, it matters what you do.
matter
1.4 it V when/if

The verb is followed by a clause beginning with when or if, which indicates a situation that occurs or may occur.

  • It didn't help when he tried to cover his mistake.
help hurt
1.5 it V as if, it V as though, it V like

The verb is followed by a clause beginning with as if or as though. In informal English, the clause sometimes begins with like. Some people think these clauses are incorrect, but we include them here because they occur frequently.

itVerb groupas if/as though/like-clause
SubjectVerbClause
It looksas if there will be a rebellion.
Itseemed like his dream had come true.
Itsoundsas though she is leading an invalid life.

Verbs with this pattern are concerned with what a situation seems or feels like. They are all link verbs (see Chapter 5).

  • There was smoke coming up at the bottom of the hill. It appeared as if there had been a bonfire or something.
  • Chess experts are awe-struck by Fischer's play. It is as if he had never stopped playing chess.
  • The band played. It felt as though the room were a moving vehicle and had just crashed up against a wall of sound.
appear be feel look seem sound
Pattern group 2: it V to n clause

There are four patterns in this group, each consisting of it, the verb, a prepositional phrase beginning with to, and a type of clause:

522
  • 2.1 it V to n that
  • It seems to me that I had done everything I could.
  • 2.2 it V to n to-inf
  • It fell to me to organize the event.
  • 2.3 it V to n wh
  • It matters to me what happens to you.
  • 2.4 it V to n as if/as though/like
  • It sounds to me as if you don't want to help her.
    2.1 it V to n that

    The verb is followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with to, and a that-clause. The prepositional phrase always indicates a human being. The prepositional phrase is the prepositional Object.

    itVerb grouptonoun groupthat-clause
    SubjectVerbprepositional Object   Clause
    It came tohim that the car following him was the same one.
    Itdidn't occurtohimthat he might win.
    Itseemedto methat there was absolutely no hope.

    The word that is often omitted, as in the clause It seems to me you're lying.

    Verbs with this pattern belong to the following meaning groups:

    1 The `seem' group 2 The `occur' group 3 Verbs with other meanings
    1 The `seem' group

    Verbs with this pattern are concerned with what a situation seems like to someone. These verbs are also found without the prepositional phrase, in the pattern it V that. Of the verbs in this meaning group, seem occurs much more frequently than any of the other verbs.

    All the verbs in this group are link verbs (see Chapter 5).

    • It seemed to me that the book tried to say something in a different way than it had been said before.
    appear feel look seem sound
    2 The `occur' group

    These verbs indicate that an idea occurs to someone. These verbs are not found in the pattern it V that: they occur only with a prepositional phrase, for example to me or to my attention.

    • Quite recently it came to my attention that I am older than the Prime Minister.
    • She seemed to be asleep. Then it occurred to him she might be dead.
    come occur
    523
    3 Verbs with other meanings

    There is one other verb with this pattern.

    • Her husband appealed to the public yesterday: `It matters to everyone that the killer is still around.'
    matter
    2.2 it V to n to-inf

    The verb is followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with to, and a to-infinitive clause. The prepositional phrase always indicates a human being. The prepositional phrase is the prepositional Object.

    itVerb grouptonoun groupto-infinitive clause
    SubjectVerbprepositional Object   Clause
    It appealstobankers to keep supporting a strong franc.
    Ithadn't occurredtometo bring a cheque-book.

    There are only three verbs with this pattern.

    • It fell to Malcolm to care for her, but he had less and less time.
    • It occurred to me to wonder how other animals that live in highly-organised societies, like human beings, cope with their diseases.
    appeal fall occur
    2.3 it V to n wh

    The verb is followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with to, and a wh-clause. The prepositional phrase always indicates a human being. The prepositional phrase is the prepositional Object.

    itVerb grouptonoun groupwh-clause
    SubjectVerbprepositional Object   Clause
    Itdidn't mattertoherwhat happened to us.
    Itcametomewhat Pop had forgotten.

    Two of the verbs with this pattern indicate that an idea occurs to someone.

    • It occurred to me how truly blessed we are to live in a town that's just chock-full of so many interesting races, creeds and colors.
    come occur

    There is one other verb with this pattern.

    • It doesn't matter to them whether or not they sell your product.
    matter
    524
    2.4 it V to n as if, it V to n as though, it V to n like

    The verb is followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with to, and a clause beginning with as if or as though. In informal English, the clause sometimes begins with like. Some people think these clauses are incorrect, but we include them because they occur frequently.

    The prepositional phrase is the prepositional Object.

    itVerb grouptonoun groupas if/as though/like-clause
    SubjectVerbprepositional Object   Clause
    Itfelttomelike the war was coming closer and closer.
    It looked to me as if this gun had been used close up.
    Itsoundsto meas though you've tried your best.

    All the verbs with this pattern are concerned with what a situation seems or feels like to someone. These verbs are also found without the prepositional phrase, in the pattern it V as if. All the verbs in this group are link verbs (see Chapter 5).

    • You have many skills and capabilities. All in all it seems to me as though you could be very useful to us.
    appear feel look seem sound
    Pattern group 3: it V prep clause
    Patterns in which the preposition is to and the prepositional phrase indicates a human being have been described in Pattern group 2 above. Here we describe the patterns which contain other prepositional phrases.

    There are two patterns in this group, each consisting of it, the verb, a prepositional phrase, and a type of clause:

    • 3.1 it V prep that
    • It came to light that he had not been telling the truth.
    • 3.2 it V prep to-inf
    • It was up to me to decide what to do.
    3.1 it V prep that

    The verb is followed by a prepositional phrase and a that-clause. The prepositional phrase is the prepositional Complement with the verbs be, come, and count, and an Adjunct with the other verbs.

    itVerb groupprepositionnoun groupthat-clause
    SubjectVerbprepositional Complement   Clause
    Itistoour creditthat people are now healthier.
    Itcountsas an achievement that he was able to resign.
    525
    itVerb groupprepositionnoun groupthat-clause
    SubjectVerbAdjunct   Clause
    Itcametolightthat the plane had not been insured.
    Itgoes withoutsayingthat most gardeners love the outdoor life.

    Verbs with this pattern have a variety of meanings. Most of them occur within fairly fixed phrases.

    • It is to his credit that the bitterness he felt over his recent failure did not alter his determination to carry out his regimental duties to perfection.
    • It is not for nothing that sports people call their clothes their `strip'. Athletes now wear clinging, black garments that leave nothing to the imagination.
    • It came as little surprise that the twelve ministers found much to criticise in the reform proposals.
    • Since alcohol is drying, it stands to reason that those products marketed for women with dry skin have little or no alcohol.
    There is one phrasal verb with this pattern, creep up. Its pattern is it V P on n that.
    • It's hard to say at first why Ed is so remarkable but then it creeps up on you that this is top-quality song-writing.
    be come (as) come (to) (see light 14) count (as) go (without) (see say 18) stand
    creep up
    3.2 it V prep to-inf

    The verb is followed by a prepositional phrase and a to-infinitive clause. The prepositional phrase is the prepositional Complement with be and come, and an Adjunct with accord.

    itVerb groupprepositionnoun groupto-infinitive clause
    SubjectVerbprepositional Complement/Adjunct   Clause
    Itaccordswiththe public interestto prosecute.
    Itisup to themto stay competitive.

    Verbs with this pattern have a variety of meanings.

    • If there are any surplus resources, it is not in the interests of the government to keep them.
    • It comes as no surprise to learn that magistrates in England and Wales dislike the new Criminal Justice Act and are now seeking to modify it.
    accord be come
    Pattern group 4: it be V-ed clause

    There are three patterns in this group, each consisting of it, a verb in the passive, and a type of clause. Although in these patterns it is the Subject in a passive clause, we include them here because there is no active equivalent containing it.

    • 4.1 it be V-ed that
    • It is thought that the temple was used in the third century. 526
    • 4.2 it be V-ed to-inf
    • It was decided to cancel the meeting.
    • 4.3 it be V-ed wh
    • It is not known what causes the disease.
    4.1 it be V-ed that

    The verb is followed by a that-clause.

    itVerb groupthat-clause
    SubjectVerbClause
    Itwas admittedthat the tests were all wrong.
    Itwas agreedthat a new treaty would be signed.
    Itis estimatedthat a hundred people have now died.

    This pattern is used to indicate that something is said, thought, or discovered, without indicating who said, thought, or discovered it. The implication is that this is a group of people, people in general, or occasionally an unspecified individual: the context has to determine which of these alternatives applies.

    This is a productive pattern and occurs occasionally with a large number of verbs concerned with saying, knowing, and thinking, such as add, affirm, appreciate, compute, decree, deduce, deem, hint, hypothesize, maintain, mention, moot, perceive, postulate, speculate, and stipulate. The verbs listed below are the ones which are most frequently used in this way.

    The word that is often omitted, as in It was said he had a good head for business.

    Verbs with this pattern belong to the following meaning groups:

    1 The `report' group

    These verbs are concerned with what is spoken and written. This includes something that is:

    • agreed or conceded
    • suggested or recommended
    • announced, reported, or disclosed
    • rumoured or alleged
    • argued or denied

    We also include here demonstrate and show, which do not necessarily involve speaking or writing.

    • Eventually it was agreed that the present laws would continue to apply in the same areas for two years.
    • It is claimed that running helps to unleash hidden energies, both psychic and physical.
    • In 1990, it was disclosed that he had contracted the AIDS virus.
    • A short time ago, it was reported that demonstrators had broken through the police lines and more vehicles were set alight.
    • It is rumoured that his farmhouse resembles a fortress, with a panic-button to alert the police in the event of intruders breaking in.
    • Until it is shown that the tape is genuine, we have to remain sceptical.
    527 It is suggested that teachers should design activities which will keep the class actively and constructively engaged. There are two phrasal verbs with this meaning, given below. Their pattern is it be V-ed P that.
    • When it was pointed out that she would need considerable journalistic experience she agreed she didn't have it.
    These verbs are sometimes used with a modal such as must or can to indicate that the speaker feels obliged or able to say something, not that someone else has said something.
    • It can be argued that human health would not suffer if we were to stop most animal research.
    • Though it cannot be denied that appearance is the first step towards attraction, it is similarity of attitude that is often a deciding factor when it comes to pursuing a relationship.
    • It must be emphasized that goat's and sheep's milk also contain lactose.
    • It must be said that the success has been solid rather than spectacular.
    be acknowledged be admitted be agreed be alleged be announced be argued be asserted be claimed be conceded be confirmed be contended be demonstrated be denied be disclosed be emphasized be explained be held be proposed be recommended be recorded be reported be revealed be ruled be rumoured be said be shown be stated be stressed be suggested be trumpeted be whispered
    be laid down be pointed out
    The `think' and `discover' group

    These verbs are concerned with what is thought. This includes something that is:

    • expected, hoped, or feared
    • thought or believed
    • decided or intended
    • remembered or forgotten
    • known or suspected
    • discovered
    • It is accepted now that drinking water in many areas contains certain pollutants which are undesirable.
    • At one time it was believed that an addict couldn't quit until she hit bottom and lost everything. That's true for many people but, it turns out, not for everybody.
    • It was concluded that the aircraft was flying at the maximum permitted speed when the leading edge of the wing opened up, ripping the wing apart.
    • Inquiries were made and it was decided that there were no grounds for further investigation.
    • They became concerned when it was discovered that more than nine-thousand ballot papers had been forged.
    • It is estimated that up to two million people around the country suffer from various forms of asthma.
    • It is expected that by the weekend, air traffic, garbage collection and mail delivery will be back in full operation.
    • At first it was feared that a bomb had caused the blast but now it appears that the explosion may have been triggered accidentally.
    • It was felt that valuable work could be carried out in establishing a good working relationship between the groups.
    528 It should be remembered that the success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous stands second to none.
    • From the stories related in this book, it can be seen that the average age of those women marrying is 17.
    • It has long been thought that aluminium was a poisonous substance and it has been linked to cancer of the stomach, though there is no evidence for this.
    • It is understood that damage estimated at more than a hundred thousand pounds has been caused to furniture, fittings and equipment in the Embassy building.
    be accepted be anticipated be assumed be believed be calculated be concluded be considered be decided be determined be discovered be envisaged be established be estimated be expected be feared be felt be found be forgotten be hoped be imagined be implied be intended be judged be known be learnt be noted be noticed be predicted be presumed be proven be realized be reckoned be recognized be regretted be remembered be seen be supposed be suspected be thought be understood
    4.2 it be V-ed to-inf

    The verb is followed by a to-infinitive clause.

    itVerb groupto-infinitive clause
    SubjectVerbClause
    Itwas hopedto use helicopters to evacuate refugees.
    Itis proposedto allow cameras into courts.

    Verbs with this pattern are concerned with a course of action being proposed, hoped for, recommended, or decided upon.

    • At an emergency meeting of teachers and parents, it was agreed to send home all 300 pupils at Chigwell county primary, Essex, until further notice.
    • She was actually too old for foster care, but because she was so upset emotionally, it was decided to place her with a foster family.
    • A spokesman said that it was intended to complete the evacuation of the remaining 1,700 citizens by January 10th.
    be agreed be decided be hoped be intended be planned be proposed
    4.3 it be V-ed wh

    The verb is followed by a wh-clause.

    itVerb groupwh-clause
    SubjectVerbClause
    Itis being asked why you did not make your views known earlier.
    Itwas not disclosedhow much the sale will raise.
    529 The verbs with this pattern are concerned with information being asked for, discovered, explained, understood, or doubted.
    • It has to be clarified whether the radicals are holding two of the soldiers, as they say, or three, as other reports have suggested.
    • It was never established whether the motor failed or the take-off was aborted.
    • Many theories exist, but it is not known what causes endometriosis, or how the disease can trigger infertility.
    • Another top Tory is under pressure to quit after it was revealed how a company he ran cost taxpayers *53200,000.
    • It is pretty well understood what controls the flow of carbon dioxide in and out of the atmosphere today.
    be asked be clarified be decided be determined be disclosed be discovered be doubted be established be explained be found be imagined be known be learned be questioned be revealed be seen be shown be understood
    Pattern group 5: it V n clause

    There are eleven patterns in this group, each consisting of it, the verb, a noun group, and a type of clause. Patterns 5.8 to 5.11 contain other elements as well.

    • 5.1 it V n that
    • It struck me that the story would make a good film.
    • 5.2 it V n to-inf
    • It worries me to see you unhappy.
    • 5.3 it V n wh
    • It beats me why sales are falling.
    • 5.4 it V n when/if
    • It worries me when you come home late.
    • 5.5 it V n -ing
    • It's no fun working all weekend.
    • 5.6 it V n/amount before/since
    • It's only a matter of time before he finds out.
    • 5.7 it V n for n to-inf
    • It took months for them to answer my letters.
    • 5.8 it V n n to-inf
    • It took me ages to finish my work.
    • 5.9 it V amount for n that
    • It said a lot for him that he was able to apologize.
    • 5.10 it V n adj that
    • It drove him crazy that he couldn't do anything to help.
    • 5.11 it V n adj to-inf
    • It makes me sick to think about all the thefts.
    5.1 it V n that

    The verb is followed by a noun group and a that-clause. The noun group is the Complement in group 1, and the Object in groups 2 and 3.

    530
    itVerb groupnoun groupthat-clause
    SubjectVerbComplementClause
    It isa shame that the press ignored these events.
    Itbecamea rulethat visitors could not leave their cars.
    itVerb groupnoun groupthat-clause
    SubjectVerbObjectClause
    Itbotheredherthat he hadn't asked for her.
    Ithit methat I was going off on my own.

    Verbs with this pattern belong to the following meaning groups:

    1 The `be' group 2 The `annoy' and `please' group 3 The `strike' group
    1 The `be' group

    These verbs are concerned with what a situation is, seems, or becomes. All the verbs in this group are link verbs (see Chapter 5). The word that is often omitted, as in the clause It's a pity you can't come.

    • You can name your own price. It's almost a foregone conclusion that you'll get what you want.
    • It remains a subject of fascination that one family produced three exceptional writers: Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte.
    be become remain seem
    2 The `annoy' and `please' group

    These verbs indicate how a situation makes someone feel. The noun group always indicates a human being.

    This is a productive use and occurs occasionally with a large number of verbs indicating the emotional effect of something, such as alarm, anger, awe, baffle, bemuse, confuse, depress, enrage, fascinate, frustrate, horrify, intrigue, offend, stagger, and upset. The verbs listed here are the ones which are most frequently used in this way.

    • It amuses me that every 22-year-old now wants to own property. I was 38 before I could afford my first flat.
    • It annoyed me that I didn't have time to do more ironing, but I will get it done.
    • It frightens me that kids are now walking around with guns.
    • In a dormitory I saw a notice: `It pleases God that children should be respectful to their elders.'
    • It puzzles me that people are willing to pay any taxes at all to this Government.
    • It saddens me that almost all my anxieties have been confirmed. I wish I had been proved wrong.
    • Does it surprise you that the polls are showing currently that this initiative will be approved by the voters?
    531 amaze amuse annoy appal astonish bother concern disappoint distress disturb embarrass frighten gall hurt infuriate irk irritate pain please puzzle sadden shock surprise worry
    3 The `strike' group

    These verbs indicate either that an idea occurs to someone, or that they fail to notice something. The noun group usually indicates a human being. In the case of escape, it may be something such as my attention or their notice.

    • They so obviously enjoyed life, enjoyed the things they did together, that it almost escaped their attention that some people did not approve of the family.
    • Didn't it strike you that he was awfully uptight and tense?
    There is one phrasal verb with this meaning, dawn on. The pattern is it V P n that.
    • I noticed that he was soaking wet, and for the first time it dawned on me that he had come down across the fields from the hill.
    escape hit strike
    dawn on
    Other productive uses

    This pattern is productive: a wide range of verbs concerned with the consequences or implications of situations and events sometimes have this pattern. For example, it occurs in sentences like It destroyed our credibility that we didn't know what was going on within our own team.

    In addition, there are a few fairly fixed phrases with this pattern.

    • It broke my heart that she could shut out my pain so easily.
    • He seemed less surly, more comfortable about being polite and ordinary. So it crossed my mind that I might give him another chance.
    • It never entered her head that their divorce would go through without a financial settlement having been made.
    • Most of the evidence was against him, and so it makes sense that he was found guilty.
    • It made no difference that we tried to talk to her, she just looked straight ahead and didn't answer us.
    5.2 it V n to-inf

    The verb is followed by a noun group and a to-infinitive clause. The noun group is the Complement in group 1, and the Object in groups 2, 3, and 4.

    itVerb groupnoun groupto-infinitive clause
    SubjectVerbComplementClause
    Itbecamepolicy to increase the number of magistrates.
    It seemeda pityto break up the peaceful scene.
    532
    itVerb groupnoun groupto-infinitive clause
    SubjectVerbObjectClause
    Itamused himto see her furious.
    Ittakes time to learn about finance.

    Verbs with this pattern belong to the following meaning groups:

    1 The `be' group 2 The `pain' and `please' group 3 The `pay' group
    1 The `be' group

    These verbs are concerned with what a situation is, seems, or becomes. All the verbs in this group are link verbs (see Chapter 5).

    • It is a crime to listen in on private conversations with scanners.
    • James had often said that while it was one thing to have children dependent upon you, it was intolerable to be materially dependent on them.
    • It remains our aim to maintain its real value over a run of years.
    be become remain seem
    2 The `pain' and `please' group

    These verbs indicate how a situation makes someone feel. The noun group always indicates a human being or a human attribute such as feelings or heart.

    This is a productive use and occurs occasionally with a large number of verbs indicating the emotional effect of something, such as anger, astonish, awe, bore, choke, confuse, dismay, embarrass, enrage, jar, reassure, repulse, and soothe. The verbs listed here are the ones which are most frequently used in this way.

    • I don't suppose it bothered the Platts to know that the money wasn't honestly come by.
    • It disturbs me to see you unhappy, darling.
    • As a nurse it frightened her to contemplate the procedure and its risks.
    • It gladdens my heart to see you again.
    • It hurts my pride to depend on her for our daily bread.
    • I'm jealous, but it kills me to admit that I am.
    • You are always in my thoughts and it pains me to think of you struggling all alone.
    • It pleased him to see that he'd delighted her with his choice.
    alarm amaze amuse annoy bother comfort delight depress disturb fascinate frighten gall gladden grieve horrify hurt infuriate interest intrigue irk kill pain please sadden scare shame shock surprise tickle touch upset worry
    533
    3 The `pay' group

    These verbs indicate that an action is helpful or useful to someone.

    • Clearly it pays banks to take big risks with our money.
    • For some peculiar reason it suited her to live like a character in a Victorian melodrama.
    benefit help pay profit suit
    4 Verbs with other meanings

    There are a few other verbs which have this pattern.

    • Reforms seldom come from the top down so it behoves us to put pressure on the decision makers.
    • It takes courage to face the unknown.
    In the case of cost, mean, and take, the verb is always or often followed by an amount. This pattern is it V amount to-inf.
    • It costs a fortune to fly these people in from all over the country.
    • It means a lot to win the World Cup.
    In the case of mean, a prepositional phrase beginning with to often occurs after the verb. This pattern is it V amount to n to-inf.
    • She'd begun composing as a child in Berlin, so it meant a lot to her to have her music performed here.
    behove cost mean take
    Other productive uses

    This pattern is productive, and occurs with a wide range of verbs concerned with the consequences or implications of actions and events. For example, it occurs in sentences like It accentuates wrinkles to fill them with face-powder and It put a strain on his heart to reach up high.

    In addition, there are a few fairly fixed phrases with this pattern.

    • It broke my heart to see him go.
    • It crossed my mind to phone her.
    • It never entered her head to question him.
    • It makes a world of difference to be dying for your ideas.
    • It made sense to delay the meeting, as there were no concrete proposals on the table.
    • It serves no purpose to disclose what happens for those who haven't seen the film.
    5.3 it V n wh

    The verb is followed by a noun group and a wh-clause. The noun group is the Complement in group 1, and the Object in groups 2, 3, and 4.

    itVerb groupnoun groupwh-clause
    SubjectVerbComplementClause
    Itisa mystery how they do that.
    Itremainsa puzzlewhy these evils have gone unnoticed.
    534
    itVerb groupnoun groupwh-clause
    SubjectVerbObjectClause
    Itdoesn't botherme whether you agree with me.
    Itworriesme what the future holds.

    Verbs with this pattern belong to the following meaning groups:

    1 The `be' group 2 The `amaze' and `sadden' group 3 The `strike' group
    1 The `be' group

    These verbs are used when describing a situation or question. Both of these verbs are link verbs (see Chapter 5).

    • It is a mystery why anyone should want to shoot him.
    be remain
    2 The `amaze' and `sadden' group

    These verbs indicate how a situation or question makes someone feel. This includes making them feel puzzled because they cannot understand something or do not know how to answer a question. The noun group always indicates a human being.

    This is a productive use and occurs occasionally with a large number of verbs indicating the emotional effect of something, such as anger, astonish, astound, baffle, confuse, fascinate, infuriate, interest, intrigue, shake, startle, and trouble. The verbs listed below are those for which this pattern is frequent.

    • It amazes me how many plastic shopping bags are given out by cashiers in large supermarkets.
    • It beats me why sales, particularly in a recession, are still running at *53300 million a year.
    • You believed in something bigger: your own sense of morality. It didn't concern you whether a thing was illegal or dangerous but whether it was right.
    • It saddened me how these children have accepted life in detention as normal.
    amaze amuse annoy beat bother bug concern hurt irritate kill pain please puzzle sadden scare surprise upset worry
    3 The `strike' group

    These verbs indicate that an idea occurs to someone. The noun group always indicates a human being.

    • It struck her how self-centred she'd been, considering only her sorrow, not his.
    There is one phrasal verb with this meaning, dawn on. Its pattern is it V P n wh.
    • It dawned on them what happened in Nagasaki in 1945 and what it must have been like.
    hit strike
    dawn on
    535 In addition, the phrase make a difference has this pattern.
    • As far as learning is concerned, it doesn't make any difference how old you are.
    5.4 it V n when/if

    The verb is followed by a noun group and a clause beginning with when or if, which indicates a situation that occurs or may occur. The noun group is the Complement in group 1 and the Object in groups 2 and 3.

    itVerb groupnoun groupwhen/if clause
    SubjectVerbComplementClause
    Itishis tough luckif he doesn't understand the risks.
    It'sthe team's problemif they're not strong enough.
    itVerb groupnoun groupwhen/if clause
    SubjectVerbObjectClause
    Itupsetsmewhen you say things like that.
    Itwouldn't surprisemeif she left.

    Verbs with this pattern belong to the following meaning groups:

    1 The `be' group 2 The `amuse' and `irritate' group 3 Verbs with other meanings
    1 The `be' group

    These verbs are concerned with what a situation is or may be. Both of these verbs are link verbs (see Chapter 5).

    • `I would like to speak to them but it is not the end of the world if I do not,' he added.
    be remain
    2 The `amuse' and `irritate' group

    These verbs are concerned with how a situation makes someone feel. The noun group always indicates a human being.

    • When I was still innocent, it amused me when my father joked about men who trade in their 41-year-old wives for two 20-year-olds.
    • It irritates me when I'm asked to do things that are not part of my job.
    • It always pleases me when guests compliment me on the look of my food.
    • Sometimes it scares me when I think that people may recognise me and that one day my past could catch up with me.
    • It wouldn't worry me if he came to my house, but I don't know if I would go out of my way to ask him.
    536 amaze amuse annoy beat bother bug concern hurt irritate kill pain please puzzle sadden scare surprise upset worry

    In addition, the phrase break someone's heart has this pattern.

    • It breaks my heart when all the little girls say they want to be nurses. I say, `Have you thought of being a doctor?' but they look blank.
    3 Verbs with other meanings

    There are two other verbs with this pattern.

    • It would help everyone if we got that issue sorted out.
    In the case of mean, the verb is always followed by an amount. This pattern is it V amount wh.
    • It's best for her to be in America to earn money, she deserves that. But it would mean a lot if just once she would say she remembers us, that we were her friends.
    help mean
    5.5 it V n -ing

    The verb is followed by a noun group and an `-ing' clause. The noun group is the Complement when the verb is be, and Object when the verb is bother, worry, or take.

    itVerb groupnoun group-ing clause
    SubjectVerbComplementClause
    Itis no fundoing things alone.
    Itis no usecomplaining.
    itVerb groupnoun group-ing clause
    SubjectVerbObjectClause
    Itmust takenerve marrying into a family like that.
    It worriesme seeing him so helpless.

    Two of the verbs with this pattern are concerned with something bothering or worrying someone.

    • Does it bother them being typecast mainly as Italian heavies or cops?
    bother worry

    There are two other verbs with this pattern.

    • It is no use putting all the blame on young drivers for the high number of accidents.
    • It took ages getting through customs as they searched my belongings for drugs.
    be take
    537
    5.6 it V n/amount before/since

    The verb is followed by a noun group or an amount, and a clause beginning with before or since. The noun group or amount is the Complement with the verbs be and seem, and the Object with the verb take.

    There are only three verbs with this pattern. The verbs be and seem are link verbs (see Chapter 5).

    • It is only a matter of time before other Asian women bands emerge.
    • We ought to get out of here fast; it won't be long before they send more troops after us.
    • It seems an age since only the Post Office supplied our phones.
    • It took several months before Janice's condition could be stabilized.
    be seem take
    5.7 it V n for n to-inf

    The verb is followed by a noun group and a clause which consists of the preposition for, a noun group, and a to-infinitive clause. The noun group following the verb is the Complement with be and become, and the Object with take.

    There are only three verbs with this pattern. The verbs be and become are link verbs (see Chapter 5).

    • It has become common practice for winemakers to add acid to some sun-ripe wines to boost freshness.
    • It was taking months and months for them to get back with answers.
    • Sometimes it takes courage for us to approach the subject of the death with another survivor.
    In the case of take 2.13, the first noun group following the verb is often an amount. This pattern is it V amount for n to-inf.
    • It didn't take too long for everyone to catch on to the real meaning behind the doublespeak.
    be become take

    In addition, the phrase make sense has this pattern.

    • `Maybe it does make sense for us to get together,' he said.
    5.8 it V n n to-inf

    The verb is followed by two noun groups and a to-infinitive clause. Both noun groups are Objects.

    itVerb groupnoun groupnoun group/amountto-infinitive clause
    SubjectVerbObjectObjectClause
    Itcostmea fortuneto renovate the house.
    Itdoesmegoodto know I'm eating the right things.

    There are four verbs with this pattern.

    • She enjoyed the warmth of Rosie's company and it gave her genuine pleasure to perform little acts of kindness for her.
    538 In the case of cost 8, the second noun group is always an amount. This pattern is it V n amount to-inf. The verbs cost 2 and take often have this pattern as well.
    • It cost him a lot to admit he needed help.
    • It took them a long time to reach the other shore.
    cost do give take
    5.9 it V amount for n that

    The verb is followed by an amount, a prepositional phrase beginning with for, and a that-clause. The amount is the Object, and the prepositional phrase is an Adjunct.

    There is only one verb with this pattern.

    • It says a lot for her culinary skills that so many of her recipes have stood the test of time.
    say
    5.10 it V n adj that

    The verb is followed by a noun group, an adjective group, and a that-clause. The noun group is the Object and the adjective group is the Object Complement.

    There are only two verbs with this pattern.

    • It makes me sick that young people commit offences time after time and never seem to get punished.
    drive make
    5.11 it V n adj to-inf

    The verb is followed by a noun group, an adjective group, and a to-infinitive clause. The noun group is the Object and the adjective group is the Object Complement.

    There are only two verbs with this pattern.

    • I was sure he was thinking, you'll never pin this on me, Meg. And it drove me crazy to think that he might be right.
    drive make
    Pattern group 6: it V adj clause

    There are seven patterns in this group, each consisting of it, the verb, an adjective group, and a type of clause. Patterns 6.6 and 6.7 have a prepositional phrase as well.

    • 6.1 it V adj that
    • It seems likely that she will leave soon.
    • 6.2 it V adj to-inf
    • It is difficult to see in the dark. 539
    • 6.3 it V adj wh
    • It became apparent how ill she was.
    • 6.4 it V adj when/if
    • It is nice when people compliment you.
    • 6.5 it V adj -ing
    • It is interesting seeing what happens here.
    • 6.6 it V adj of n to-inf
    • It's nice of you to come.
    • 6.7 it V adj for n to-inf
    • It is impossible for me to arrive any earlier.
    6.1 it V adj that

    The verb is followed by an adjective group and a that-clause. The adjective group is the Complement.

    itVerb groupadjective groupthat-clause
    SubjectVerbComplementClause
    Itisimportantthat you say exactly what you mean.
    Itseemscertainthat elections will go ahead.

    These verbs are concerned with what a situation is, seems, or becomes. All the verbs in this group are link verbs (see Chapter 5). The word that is often omitted, as in the clause It is certain he will be there.

    • I think it's important that you get to know them beforehand.
    • It quickly becomes apparent that he is not mad at all.
    • It looks increasingly likely that the three national parties may form a government of national unity.
    • Though the course of events which led to the cataclysm is well known, it remains astonishing that a whole society was overthrown so easily.
    appear be become feel look prove remain seem
    6.2 it V adj to-inf

    The verb is followed by an adjective group and a to-infinitive clause. The adjective group is the Complement.

    itVerb groupadjective groupto-infinitive clause
    SubjectVerbComplementClause
    Itfeels good to have finished a piece of work.
    Itwould lookpretty silly to turn the proposal down.

    These verbs are concerned with what an action is, seems, or becomes. All the verbs in this group are link verbs (see Chapter 5).

    • It appears reasonable to assume that most hostel tenants would prefer single to shared rooms.
    540 It has proven difficult to infiltrate small terrorist cells, which often are held together by family relationships.
    appear be become feel look prove remain seem
    6.3 it V adj wh

    The verb is followed by an adjective group and a wh-clause. The adjective group is the Complement.

    itVerb groupadjective groupwh-clause
    SubjectVerbComplementClause
    Itis not clearwho will get the money.
    It remainsuncertainhow many snipers were involved.

    These verbs are concerned with what a situation or question is, seems, or becomes. All the verbs in this group are link verbs (see Chapter 5).

    • It appeared unclear whether the council would do much for the rebels beyond expressing outrage.
    • In the end the government did raise taxes as it became clear how much money needed to be spent in the East.
    appear be become remain seem
    6.4 it V adj when/if

    The verb is followed by an adjective group and a clause beginning with when or if, which indicates a situation or event that occurs or may occur. The adjective group is the Complement.

    itVerb groupadjective groupwhen/if clause
    SubjectVerbComplementClause
    Itfeelsgoodwhen our tastes are similar.
    Itseemsso unfairwhen these things happen.

    These verbs are used when describing an event or experience. They are all link verbs (see Chapter 5).

    • When you're part of a team it feels weird if you leave for a while.
    • As my wife was supposed to be suffering from a migraine it would have looked odd if I had failed to leave the palace early.
    be feel look prove seem
    541
    6.5 it V adj -ing

    The verb is followed by an adjective group and an `-ing' clause. The adjective group is the Complement.

    itVerb group adjective group-ing clause
    SubjectVerbComplementClause
    Itgetsvery boringtalking about racing all the time.
    Itseemedso dramaticcalling at this hour.

    These verbs are used when describing something you do or might do. They are all link verbs (see Chapter 5).

    • It is worthwhile spending time reading biographies and articles about important and powerful people.
    • It feels wrong having a physical relationship with someone you can't talk to.
    be feel get look seem
    6.6 it V adj of n to-inf

    The verb is followed by an adjective group and a clause which consists of the preposition of, a noun group, and a to-infinitive clause. The adjective group is the Complement.

    There is only one verb with this pattern.

    • It is kind of you to come to see me.
    be
    6.7 it V adj for n to-inf

    The verb is followed by an adjective group and a clause which consists of the preposition for and a to-infinitive clause. The adjective group is the Complement.

    itVerb groupadjective groupfor noun groupto-infinitive clause
    SubjectVerbComplementClause    
    Itwas easy formeto get there on foot.
    Itremainspossibleforthemto finish the course.

    These verbs are used when describing an action or situation. They are all link verbs (see Chapter 5).

    • It was becoming quite difficult for me to commute the fifty miles from my home and office in Chicago several times a week.
    • It looks bad for a civilized country to have these kinds of problems.
    • It seems almost impossible for me to find myself in a relationship without wanting to get away at some point.
    542 appear be become feel look prove remain seem
    Other phrases

    The following fairly fixed phrases also have introductory it as Subject.

    • Far be it from me to criticise, but shouldn't Susan take a share of the blame?
    • It came home to him that after his long period of deskwork, he had put on weight, and was out of combat condition.
    • It remains to be seen whether the agreement will stick.
    Using it and the verb be to focus

    When you want to focus on an element of the sentence, you can put it and a form of the verb be at the beginning, followed by the element you want to focus on, then a relative pronoun such as who, which, or that, then the rest of the sentence. Thus instead of saying John got married last week, you can focus on John and say It was John who got married last week. The meaning of this is often contrastive: It was John, not Paul, who got married last week.

    • Her height is striking enough but it is her face which amazes everyone. (Her face amazes everyone.)
    • He was at Hove yesterday, and it was a fair bet that it was Alan Wells who he had gone to watch. (He had gone to watch Alan Wells.)
    2 Introductory it as Object

    In all the patterns given in this section, introductory it is the Object of the clause. Although it is the Object, it does not contribute to the meaning of the clause, and is often known as a `dummy' Object.

    Many of these patterns are combinations of introductory it as Subject and other patterns. For example, if the clause it is difficult to understand you is preceded by the verb find, you get a clause like I find it difficult to understand you. However, some patterns with introductory it as Object cannot be explained in this way. For example, I hate it when she's away has no equivalent pattern with introductory it as Subject.

    The patterns with introductory it as Object fall into five pattern groups:

    • Pattern group 1: V it clause
    • Pattern group 2: V it to n clause
    • Pattern group 3: V it as n/adj clause
    • Pattern group 4: V it n clause
    • Pattern group 5: V it adj clause
    Pattern group 1: V it clause

    There are two patterns in this group, each consisting of the verb, it, and a type of clause:

    543 *1.1 V it that I loved it that he cared enough to ask. *1.2 V it when/if I hate it when she's away.
    1.1 V it that

    The verb is followed by it and a that-clause.

    Verbs with this pattern belong to the following meaning groups:

    1 The `love' and `hate' group 2 The `arrange' group 3 Verbs with other meanings
    1 The `love' and `hate' group

    These verbs indicate how a situation makes someone feel. These verbs have no equivalent passive pattern.

    • I really appreciate it that you raised me in such a warm and happy family.
    • I hate it that you can paint contentedly while I'm feeling restless and bored.
    • One of his major attractions was that he took charge. She loved it that he made all the decisions.
    • I can't stand it that he wears a Sea World tee shirt!
    appreciate (cannot) bear hate like love resent (cannot) stand
    2 The `arrange' group

    These verbs are concerned with plans and arrangements. They are usually used in the passive. The passive pattern is it be V-ed that, where it is the Subject of the clause.

    • It was arranged that I should go along to the inn to see him.
    • It is planned that these hostages will be released in phases over three months up to late March.
    arrange (usu passive) plan (usu passive)

    The verb arrange also has the pattern V it so that.

    • The League have arranged it so that all games are played before the Cup final.
    3 Verbs with other meanings

    There are three other verbs with this pattern.

    • Rumour has it that Britain's universities are jam-packed full of bright ideas struggling to escape from those ivory towers.
    • You have a reputation for extreme discretion. Can I take it that what I am going to reveal will remain strictly between the two of us?
    One of the verbs is a phrasal verb. Its pattern is V it P that.
    • Then she undermined him, destroyed his confidence in his own talent, put it about that he was unreliable, a troublemaker.
    In the case of put about, there is a passive pattern it be V-ed P that, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • When the introduction of charges for directory inquiries was suggested, it was put about by BT that this was the only way of dealing with `misuse' of the facility.
    have take
    put about
    544
    1.2 V it when/if

    The verb is followed by it and a clause beginning with when or if.

    Most of the verbs with this pattern indicate how a situation or possible situation makes someone feel or react.

    • `You can't bear it if I know things that you don't,' she said.
    • I couldn't believe it when she said I should do something about my appearance and wear more make-up.
    • `I really hate it when you cry like that,' Oliver said.
    • How would you like it if your ninety-year-old self came walking through the door?
    • Frankly, we'd prefer it if you could find an adequate excuse to leave the country for the time being.
    • He was so easy and friendly I didn't resent it when he asked me straight out the purpose of my trip.
    In the case of appreciate, there is a passive pattern it be V-ed when/if, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • It would be appreciated if those who can, would stay on here for another night or so.
    accept adore appreciate (cannot) bear (cannot) believe dislike (cannot) endure enjoy handle hate like loathe love (not) mind prefer regret resent (cannot) stand (cannot) take understand welcome

    There is one other verb with this pattern.

    • I can't help it if you think I'm odd.
    (cannot) help
    Pattern group 2: V it to n clause

    There are two patterns in this group, each consisting of the verb, it, a prepositional phrase beginning with to, and a type of clause:

    • 2.1 V it to n that I put it to him that he may have been wrong.
    • 2.2 V it to n to-inf I owe it to my parents to work hard.
    2.1 V it to n that

    The verb is followed by it, a prepositional phrase beginning with to, and a that-clause. The prepositional phrase always indicates the person who someone addresses.

    • They'd already broken it to the troops that there was to be no brief period in reserve as promised.
    • When I interviewed him again I put it to him that he'd lied to you and to me about not seeing his wife that afternoon. And he just caved in.
    545 In the case of put, there is a passive pattern it be V-ed to n that, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • He was rattled when it was put to him that his power has diminished.
    The verb drum has the patterns V it into n that and it be V-ed into n that.
    • They drummed it into me that you were not to know.
    break drum put
    2.2 V it to n to-inf

    The verb is followed by it, a prepositional phrase beginning with to, and a to-infinitive clause. The prepositional phrase usually indicates a human being, but in the case of owe it may be a country or institution.

    • You just shut your eyes, and left it to the other people to clear up the mess!
    • I owe it to my country to fight for what's right.
    In the case of leave, there is a passive pattern it be V-ed to n to-inf, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • It was left to him to assess the needs of the various underground groups and disperse the cash according to these needs.
    In the case of owe, the noun group is often a reflexive pronoun. This pattern is V it to pron-refl to-inf.
    • You were born to be happy and healthy and you owe it to yourself to achieve this goal.
    leave owe
    Pattern group 3: V it as n/adj clause

    There are three patterns in this group, each consisting of the verb, it, a prepositional phrase which consists of as and a noun group or an adjective group, and a type of clause:

    • 3.1 V it as n/adj that He regards it as significant that the Government is suggesting cuts. 3.2 V it as n/adj to-inf They accept it as their responsibility to educate the public. 3.3 V it as n/adj when/if He would take it as an insult if I left.
    3.1 V it as n/adj that

    The verb is followed by it, a prepositional phrase which consists of as and a noun group or an adjective group, and a that-clause.

    Most of the verbs with this pattern are concerned with how someone sees or interprets a situation.

    • Have we grown up accepting it as fact that there always have been and always will be starving children in Africa?
    • I regard it as an affront to civil liberty that any person going about his lawful business should be stopped randomly by any authority.
    • I see it as a serious flaw that a report can have that kind of ambiguity.
    The passive pattern is it be V-ed as n/adj that, where it is the Subject of the clause. 546 It is seen as ironic that after saying he was the only person who could hold the country together, he is now trying to create a federation.
    accept regard see take view

    There is one other verb with this pattern. The preposition as is followed by a noun group, not an adjective group.

    • The professor has given it as his opinion that the expedition took place about the era of Magnus Maximus (380-390).
    give
    3.2 V it as n/adj to-inf

    The verb is followed by it, a prepositional phrase which consists of as and a noun group or an adjective group, and a to-infinitive clause.

    Verbs with this pattern are concerned with how someone sees or interprets an action or state.

    • The Romans regarded it as undignified to compete naked in front of spectators.
    • He saw it as his duty to further the aims of the Party.
    • They say the West views it as legitimate to intervene in areas where they feel their economic interests are threatened.
    The passive pattern is it be V-ed as n/adj to-inf, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • In the late 1980s, it was regarded as almost trendy to be a non-stop single-minded workaholic yuppie.
    accept regard see take view
    3.3 V it as n/adj when/if

    The verb is followed by it, a prepositional phrase which consists of as and a noun group or adjective group, and a clause beginning with when or if.

    Verbs with this pattern are concerned with how someone sees or interprets a situation or possible situation. These verbs have no equivalent passive pattern.

    • I take it as a compliment when people call me aggressive.
    • The public expect us to have three finalists in every championship and view it as abnormal when we don't.
    regard see take view
    Pattern group 4: V it n clause

    There are three patterns in this group, each consisting of the verb, it, a noun group, and a type of clause.

    547 4.1 V it n that I thought it a pity that she didn't get the job. 4.2 V it n to-inf They felt it their duty to visit her in hospital. 4.3 V it n when/if I'd consider it a compliment if you accepted.
    4.1 V it n that

    The verb is followed by it, a noun group, and a that-clause.

    Most of the verbs with this pattern are concerned with how someone evaluates or judges a situation.

    • The pilot called it a miracle that no one was killed.
    • He considered it a good thing that the parliaments would be involved.
    • Ann felt it an injustice that she had been automatically blamed.
    • Tom thought it a tragedy that she had settled for marrying Joe Scully.
    These verbs are occasionally used in the passive with this pattern. The passive pattern is it be V-ed n that, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • There were a number of new faces there and so it was thought a good idea that we all just say who we are beforehand.
    believe call consider feel find think

    There is one other verb with this pattern.

    • If you are getting a mortgage, the lender will make it a condition of the loan that the property is insured, and will usually arrange cover.
    make
    4.2 V it n to-inf

    The verb is followed by it, a noun group, and a to-infinitive clause.

    Most of the verbs with this pattern are concerned with how someone evaluates or judges a situation.

    • Drivers still consider it a challenge to negotiate the long, desolate stretches of road with few services.
    • I deemed it a great honor to be granted an interview with him.
    • I sometimes find it a strain to be responsible for the mortgage and household bills each month.
    The passive pattern is it be V-ed n to-inf, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • It is considered a snub to leave work before the most senior person.
    consider count deem feel find reckon think

    There is one other verb with this pattern. This verb has no equivalent passive pattern.

    • He has always made it his business to know about these things.
    548 make
    4.3 V it n when/if

    The verb is followed by it, a noun group, and a clause beginning with when or if.

    Most of the verbs with this pattern are concerned with how someone evaluates or judges a situation or possible situation.

    • I would consider it a favour if you would ask me home again next weekend .
    • She said she would not find it a problem if she never appeared on TV again.
    The passive pattern is it be V-ed n when/if, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • America's divorce rate may be falling while Japan's is rising, but it would be considered a major social triumph if Americans stayed married as enthusiastically as Japanese still do.
    consider find think
    Pattern group 5: V it adj clause

    There are four patterns in this group, each consisting of the verb, it, an adjective group, and a type of clause.

    • 5.1 V it adj that He made it clear that he would not negotiate. 5.2 V it adj to-inf I find it hard to understand your motives. 5.3 V it adj wh He left it unclear whether he would resign or not. 5.4 V it adj when/if I think it best if you tell him the truth.
    5.1 V it adj that

    The verb is followed by it, an adjective group, and a that-clause.

    Most of the verbs with this pattern are concerned with how someone evaluates or judges a situation.

    • Although people have believed it possible that planets exist orbiting around suns similar to our own, it has been thought unlikely that neutron stars would have their own planets.
    • I consider it essential that the photographer should do his own printing.
    • I find it remarkable that my lad seems unaffected by the insecurity he's lived with for most of his life.
    • Having been fortunate enough to see his immaculate garden, I think it highly unlikely that he shares my relaxed approach to weeds.
    The passive pattern is it be V-ed adj that, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • It is considered unlikely that any of the Cabinet changes will represent any major changes in policy.
    believe consider deem feel find imagine think
    549 There is one other verb with this pattern, make. The adjective that most frequently occurs with this verb is clear.
    • From the very beginning he had made it clear that he did not have marriage in mind.
    The passive pattern is it be V-ed adj that, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • It was made clear that there was no place for superstition in the new society.
    make
    5.2 V it adj to-inf

    The verb is followed by it, an adjective group, and a to-infinitive clause.

    Verbs with this pattern belong to the following meaning groups:

    1 The `call' group 2 The `make' group 3 Verbs with other meanings
    1 The `call' group

    These verbs are concerned with how someone evaluates or judges an action or state. We include here declare and rule, which involve someone in authority making an official statement, usually that something is illegal.

    • The Senator calls it wasteful to give free immunizations to those who can afford to pay.
    • They deem it more important to privatise state property quickly than to settle in advance the details of a market economy.
    • He suspected that Samantha had attended such parties previously and had not felt it necessary to tell him.
    • Most people find it hard to understand how living with one's own children could be lonely.
    • She dodged into the nearest toilet and remained there until she judged it safe to emerge.
    • Courts in Scotland have ruled it illegal to clamp a car parked on private ground and then to demand a fine.
    The passive pattern is it be V-ed adj to-inf, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • An official source said `It has been felt necessary to remove the five secretaries in order to maintain administrative discipline.'
    believe call consider declare deem feel find judge rule think
    2 The `make' group

    These verbs are concerned with causing a particular situation.

    • The reflection of the sun on the surface of the water made it impossible to see the bottom.
    • He argues that federal subsidies have rendered it hard to differentiate between good farmers and bad.
    The passive pattern is it be V-ed adj to-inf, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • It should be made impossible to overrule a minority with anything less than 75% of the votes in the Council of Ministers.
    550 make render
    3 Verbs with other meanings

    There is one other verb with this pattern.

    • Neil Mitchell, of Friends of the Earth: `We haven't left it too late to survive, but we've left it too late to have the world as we used to know it.'
    leave
    5.3 V it adj wh

    The verb is followed by it, an adjective group, and a wh-clause.

    These verbs are concerned with leaving a situation unclear or doubtful, or making it clear or obvious.

    • The failure of many republics to take part leaves it unclear whether any laws passed by this new Parliament will be valid throughout the country.
    • On the very first day, the United Nations made it absolutely clear what he should do.
    The passive pattern is it be V-ed adj wh, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • It has not been made clear whether the invitation was extended before or after the coup.
    leave make
    5.4 V it adj when/if

    The verb is followed by it, an adjective group, and a clause beginning with when or if.

    Most of the verbs with this pattern are concerned with how someone evaluates or judges a situation or possible situation.

    • I find it ridiculous when people keep analysing their marriage, forever questioning whether it will turn out to be a success.
    • I think it best if you leave at once.
    The passive pattern is it be V-ed adj when/if, where it is the Subject of the clause.
    • It is considered even better if preventative health care for a child begins before the child is born.
    consider find think
    Other phrases

    The following fairly fixed phrases also have introductory it as Object.

    • I had it in mind to write a book about how much one should strive for perfection.
    • Officials let it be known that they were hoping to get more than two thirds of the members together.
    • I wouldn't put it past your father to insist that this behaviour is kept secret from you.
    • The institutions simply took it for granted that the debtor countries should honour their debts in full.
    551 We grabbed sleep when we could and took it in turns to keep watch. In the phrase see to it that, the prepositional phrase to it is the prepositional Object.
    • Lennie stopped the concert, shouted for a doctor, and saw to it that the player was given medical attention.
    3 General it as Subject

    Sometimes the pronoun it does not refer to something that has been explicitly mentioned, and does not point forwards to a clause giving new information. In these cases, either it does not refer to anything at all, or it refers very vaguely to the general situation. We call this general it. In all the patterns described in this section, general it is the Subject.

    1 it V

    The verb can be used on its own, without anything following it.

    itVerb group  
    SubjectVerbAdjunct (optional)
    It's raining.  
    Itsnowedall afternoon.

    Verbs with this pattern are all concerned with the weather.

    • Outside it was drizzling steadily and the city looked grey.
    There is one phrasal verb with this pattern. The pattern is it V P.
    • It will brighten up in the next few days.
    The to-infinitive form of these verbs is sometimes part of a complex verb group, in phase with another verb such as begin or come on.
    • It began to snow.
    • It was coming on to rain when finally Mac's lorry arrived.
    drizzle freeze hail pour rain snow be spitting thunder
    brighten up

    The verb pour is sometimes followed by the prepositional phrase with rain. This pattern is it V with rain. Two other verbs have this pattern but do not have the pattern it V.

    • If it hadn't been bucketing down with rain, I would have had a glorious view of Bantry Bay from my bedroom window.
    • It was pouring with rain and rivers of brick-coloured water ran down the streets.
    pelt pour
    bucket down
    552
    2 it V adj

    The verb is followed by an adjective group.

    itVerb groupadjective group
    SubjectVerbComplement
    Itwasvery windy.

    Most of the verbs with this pattern are used when indicating what the weather, the temperature, or the light is like.

    • It was chilly, and he was glad of his coat and scarf.
    • It was hot and stuffy in the classroom even though two of the windows had been opened.
    • We arrived just as it was getting dark.
    There is one phrasal verb with this pattern, turn out. The pattern is it V P adj. The adjective is usually nice.
    • If we forecast bad weather and it turns out nice, nobody accuses us of getting it wrong.

    One verb, get 1.15, is used with the adjective late.

    • Well, it's getting late. I guess your wife will be wondering where you are.
    be get
    turn out
    3 it V adj prep/adv

    The verb is followed by an adjective group and a prepositional phrase or adverb group. The prepositional phrase or adverb group is an Adjunct.

    There is one verb with this pattern, be. It is used to indicate your opinion of being in a place.

    • It's nice here.
    • It was awful in hospital.
    be
    4 it V n

    The verb is followed by a noun group. In the case of be and come, the noun group is the Complement; in the case of be blowing, it is the Object.

    There are three verbs with this pattern.

    • It was four o'clock in the morning.
    • We get called out in all weathers - usually when it's blowing a gale.
    • When it came time to think about a new career path, he was at a loss.
    be be blowing come
    553
    5 it V to n

    The verb is followed by a prepositional phrase which consists of to and a noun group. The prepositional phrase is the prepositional Object.

    Two senses of the verb get have this pattern.

    • It got to the point where we just couldn't bear to be in the same room as each other.
    • Then it got to 3.30, 4.30. Eventually at 6 o'clock my eldest son was getting fidgety.
    There is one phrasal verb with this pattern, come down. The pattern is it V P to n/wh.
    • It comes down to business. I'd love to play but I have too many commitments.
    • At the end of the day it comes down to whether you are delivering your product to the customer at the right price at the right time.
    get
    come down

    The verb get 1.15 also has the pattern it V towards n.

    • It was getting towards evening when we got back.
    6 it V prep/adv that

    The verb is followed by a prepositional phrase or an adverb group, and a that-clause.

    There is only one verb with this pattern. It is used when indicating what is written somewhere.

    • It says here they have live music.
    say

    This verb also has the pattern it V prep/adv with quote. The verb is used with a quote clause, which can come before the Subject or after the prepositional phrase or adverb group.

    • `If we cannot compete, we can achieve nothing,' it says in a recent report from the European Round Table of Industrialists.
    4 General it as Object

    In all the patterns described in this section, general it is the Object. Many of these combinations of a verb and it are sometimes considered to be phrases. Most of them are informal English.

    1 V it

    The verb is followed by it.

    554
      Verb groupit
    SubjectVerbObject
    Theydidn't makeit.
      Don't pushit.
    Phrasal verbs: V it P
      Verb groupitParticle
    SubjectVerb...Object...Verb
    She's coiningitin.
      Cutitout!

    Verbs with this pattern belong to the following meaning groups:

    1 The `cut it out' group 2 The `leg it' group 3 The `blow it' and `make it' group
    1 The `cut it out' group

    These verbs are concerned with stopping doing something. We include here snuff it, which means `die' and end it all, which means `kill yourself'.

    • `One of them was so bad,' said Chernikov, `we thought he had snuffed it.'
    The verbs cool, hold, cut out, and knock off are always or usually used in the imperative.
    • `I'm warning you, Fatso,' his persecutor said. `Cut it out. Or else.'
    • `Hold it, Mom. Better not call the cops,' Frank said quickly.
    The verbs end, chuck in, and chuck up are always or usually used with it all, rather than it.
    • I wouldn't fall on the floor in surprise if he suddenly announced one day that he was chucking it all up.
    • I'd just had enough, and I just wanted to end it all.
    cool end hold snuff
    chuck in chuck up cut out knock off (see knock 10)
    2 The `leg it' group

    These verbs indicate that someone leaves a place.

    • It's already past your bedtime. Hop it.
    • One of them pulled a Thompson sub-machine gun from inside his coat and suddenly all hell broke loose. Well, I legged it.
    hop leg
    555
    3 The `blow it' and `make it' group

    These verbs are concerned with failure, success, and risk-taking.

    • The moment I faced him all your years of teaching went down the drain. I'm afraid I blew it.
    • Andy knew there would be random testing. I cannot believe he would have chanced it.
    • You'll make it, don't worry.
    • A drink or two is fine but don't overdo it.
    blow bottle chance (cannot) hack have had (see had 4) lose make (cannot) make overdo push
    4 The `rough it' group

    These verbs indicate how comfortable or well-off someone is.

    • But if you are prepared to rough it then make the trek over to the Rocky Shore and try from there.
    • He left Washington and he's now in Hawaii, living it up on his share of the money.
    be coining rough slum
    be coining in live up
    5 Verbs with other meanings

    There are a number of other verbs which have this pattern.

    • And if you are caught or if people complain, simply argue that `everyone does it' and brazen it out.
    • They come up for sentence early next week, and won't they cop it?
    • They were just trying it on, applying a little pressure in the hope that they would squeeze something out of me.
    • Watch it, Sam. You're going to spill that if you're not careful.
    The verb say is followed by it all, rather than it.
    • Their blank looks say it all.
    clinch cop mix say settle watch
    brazen out camp up (see camp 8) hurry up keep up (see keep 25) stick out sweat out (see sweat 6) try on
    Productive uses
    It is used after various swear words, in the imperative form, to form exclamations, for example damn it and bugger it.
    2 pl-n V it P; V it P with n

    All these verbs are reciprocal verbs (see Chapter 6). They have two patterns:

  • pl-n V it P: The verb is used with a plural Subject and is
  • followed by it and a particle.
  • V it P with n: The verb is used with a Subject referring to
  • one participant and followed by it, a particle, and a prepositional phrase beginning with with which indicates the other participant. 556
    pl-n V it P
    plural noun groupVerb groupitParticle
    SubjectVerb...Object...Verb
    She and her mothermadeitup.
    Reformers and conservativessluggeditout.
    V it P with n
      Verb groupitParticlewithnoun group
    SubjectVerb...Object...VerbAdjunct  
    I'll makeitupwithhim.
    Hetries to slugitoutwithbigger, stronger men.

    Verbs with this combination of patterns belong to the following meaning groups:

    1 The `battle it out' group

    These verbs are concerned with fighting, competing, or arguing.

    The two men who will now battle it out for the post of President used to be close allies. He flew in specially for the sale and battled it out with a telephone bidder.
    battle out (see battle 11) fight out have out (see have 3.18) slog out (see slog 5) slug out (see slug 5)
    2 The `hit it off' group

    These verbs are concerned with having, beginning, or ending a relationship.

    In a second interview she did admit to being his girlfriend but claimed they broke it off after his engagement. I believed she was about to break it off with me.
    Despite an age gap of more than 30 years, they hit it off straight away. Introductions had already been made, and he saw that Colonel Johns had hit it off with Mr Clark.
    break off (also non-recip) have away (see have 3.16) have off (see have 3.16) hit off (see hit 8) make up
    3 V it prep/adv

    The verb is followed by it and a prepositional phrase or adverb group. The prepositional phrase or adverb group is an Adjunct.

    Verbs with this pattern belong to the following meaning groups:

    557
    1 The `hot-foot' group

    These verbs indicate that someone goes somewhere.

    • Seconds later a cacophony of sirens began and I hot-footed it home.
    hop hot-foot leg
    2 The `love' and `hate' group

    These verbs indicate someone's opinion of being in a place.

    • My family hated it in Southampton.
    • I love it here. Everybody is so polite.
    enjoy hate like love prefer (cannot) stand
    4 V it adj/adv

    The verb is followed by it and an adjective group or adverb group.

      Verb groupitadjective/adverb group
    SubjectVerbObjectAdjunct
      Playitsafe.
    Youcould strikeitlucky.

    Verbs with this pattern belong to the following meaning groups:

    1 The `strike it rich' group

    These verbs indicate that someone is successful or lucky.

    In the case of strike, the word after it is lucky or rich.
    • She says the graduates' perception is that commerce offers more opportunities to strike it rich.
    In the case of make, the word after it is always big.
    • He warned Dean his private life would disappear if he made it big as an actor.
    make (see big 10) strike
    2 The `play it cool' group

    These verbs are concerned with behaviour.

    • Do you play it cool after the first date?
    In the case of make, the word after it is always snappy. Make is usually used in the imperative. The adjective is an Object Complement.
    • `Make it snappy! I've got a deadline.'
    In the case of take, the word after it is always easy.
    • The seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle Columbia are taking it easy today, following six full days of medical research.
    558 There is one phrasal verb with this pattern, lay on. The pattern is V it P adj/adv. The word after the particle is always thick or thickly.
    • Don't lay it on too thick, but make sure they are flattered enough to take up an invitation to meet their `admirer'.
    make (see snappy 4) play take (see easy 13)
    lay on (see lay 1.11)
    5 V it n

    The verb is followed by it and a noun group. The noun group is the Object Complement.

    There are two verbs with this pattern. The verb call is used with a day or quits to indicate that someone stops doing something.

    • Maybe in ten years or so when I'm not winning any more I'll call it a day and retire.

    The verb make6.2 is used when indicating or asking the time.

    • `What time d'you make it?' `Thirteen past.'
    In the case of make 6.1, the noun group following it is always an amount. This pattern is V it amount.
    • She heard Sam ask, `How many shots has she got left?' and Paul answer, `I make it two.'
    call (see day 7 quit 4) make
    6 V it -ed

    The verb is followed by it and the `-ed' form of another verb.

    There is only one verb with this pattern, have. The `-ed' form is always made.

    • Sure I had to help her. I had a job, didn't I? Compared to her and everyone else in my family, I had it made.
    have (see made 3)
    7 V it inf

    The verb is followed by it and the infinitive form of another verb.

    There is only one verb with this pattern, let. It is followed by it all and the infinitive form hang out.

    • This was a chance for them to stretch - to explore different themes and let it all hang out.
    let (see hang 12)
    8 V it over n

    The verb is followed by it and a prepositional phrase beginning with over. The prepositional phrase is the prepositional Object.

    559 There is only one verb with this pattern.
    • In Egypt priests were a privileged class, lording it over common folk.
    lord
    9 V it to n

    The verb is followed by it and a prepositional phrase beginning with to. The prepositional phrase is the prepositional Object.

    There is only one verb with this pattern.

    • I have to hand it to you, you do have a knack for making plans.
    (have to) hand
    10 V it P P n

    The verb is followed by it, two particles, and a noun group.

    There are two verbs with this pattern.

    • There are plenty of people who have it in for me. I know that. I've never gone out of my way to propitiate people.
    • I know how badly I've behaved. I'd like to make it up to you, Cathy.
    have in for (see have 3.14) make up to
    11 V prep it

    The verb is followed by a prepositional phrase ending in it. The preposition that comes after each verb is indicated in the list.

      Verb groupprepositionit
    SubjectVerbprepositional Object  
    Iranforit.
      Snapout ofit!

    Verbs with this pattern have a variety of meanings.

    • If anyone can do this range of distances, Morceli can. He should go for it while he's at the right age.
    • Did he actually say, `Just give me five years and we'll be rolling in it'?
    • We'll have to step on it to get to Winchester by eight.
    The verb wait is used only in the imperative.
    • It is a 10-second advertisement for a new magazine about feelings and emotions, which is called, wait for it, `Let's Share'.
    There is one phrasal verb with this pattern, get away. Its pattern is V P from it all.
    • It is a favorite retreat of power brokers, the social, and the celebrated who want to get away from it all.
    560 go (for it) keep (at it) be rolling (in it) run (for it) snap (out of it) step (on it) wait (for it)
    get away (from it all)
    12 V n for it

    The verb is followed by a noun group and the prepositional phrase for it.

    There is only one verb with this pattern.

    • The two men made a run for it as Sally Wright shouted: `Stop, thief!'
    make (see bolt 10, break 31 run 50)