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  1. #21
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    I agree with you here, but it is a different construction. In this case, the infinitive phrase is not a noun, so it can't be the subject. This infinitive phrase is a modifier of "instinct". :wink:
    But on the surface they are the same having the "It...to..." structure, aren't they?

    How do you tell the difference even though it looks like the same...

    Confusing...

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    I agree with you here, but it is a different construction. In this case, the infinitive phrase is not a noun, so it can't be the subject. This infinitive phrase is a modifier of "instinct". :wink:
    But on the surface they are the same having "It...to..." structure, aren't they?

    How do you tell the difference even though it looks like the same...

    Confusing...
    It can be very confusing to learners. Native speakers can tell because of the way the words attach to each other. In your mother's day example, the infinitive naturally attaches to instinct, so the reader doesn't read it as a delayed subject. :wink:

  3. #23
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    Native speakers can tell because of the way the words attach to each other. In your mother's day example, the infinitive naturally attaches to instinct, so the reader doesn't read it as a delayed subject.
    Isn't it also natural, and haven't you seen in reality, that infinitives attach to "skill" and "art"?

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    Native speakers can tell because of the way the words attach to each other. In your mother's day example, the infinitive naturally attaches to instinct, so the reader doesn't read it as a delayed subject.
    Isn't it also natural, and haven't you seen in reality, that infinitives attach to "skill" and "art"?
    Yes, but attach in a different way in this case. The linking verb after "it" sets up an equivalency between "skill/art" and the infinitives.

    It is a skill to X = To X is a skill
    It is an art to Y = To Y is an art

  5. #25
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    Yes, but attach in a different way in this case. The linking verb after "it" sets up an equivalency between "skill/art" and the infinitives.

    It is a skill to X = To X is a skill
    It is an art to Y = To Y is an art
    So, if the author clearly stated "Memory/That is a skill to X", "Memory/That is an art to Y", then the infinitives link to "a skill", "an art". But when "it"s are used as subjects, then the infinitives don't. Right?

    Isn't there any formula to differentiate "It is (a noun) to X" = "(It =a pronoun) is [(a noun)+ (to X)]" from "It is (a noun) to X"="To X is (a noun)"?

  6. #26
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    [quote="Taka"]
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    Yes, but attach in a different way in this case. The linking verb after "it" sets up an equivalency between "skill/art" and the infinitives.

    It is a skill to X = To X is a skill
    It is an art to Y = To Y is an art
    So, if the author clearly stated "Memory/That is a skill to X", "Memory/That is an art to Y", then the infinitives link to "a skill", "an art". But when "it"s are used as subjects, then the infinitives don't. Right?
    Yes, if memory were followed by a relative clause containing "skill to possess", the infinitive would attach to "skill".

    I'm not sure about the second part. It sounds like too broad a rule. A better rule is that infinitives used as nouns can be delayed subjects, but infinitives used as modifiers cannot be delayed subjects.


    Isn't there any case where "It is (a noun) to X" is "(It =a pronoun) is [(a noun)+ (to X)]"?
    Not with a noun infinitive (that I can think of). That would have two nouns after a linking verb and a pronoun that is taking the subject spot.

    One can have [it (pronoun)] is [noun] [infinitive (modifier)].

    Moby Dick. It is a book to read.

  7. #27
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Sorry,Mike. While you were responding to me, I edited the last part of my last message.

    Any comments on this one?:

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    Isn't there any formula to differentiate "It is (a noun) to X" = "(It =a pronoun) is [(a noun)+ (to X)]" from "It is (a noun) to X"="To X is (a noun)"?

    Moby Dick...yeah. English is certainly a big white monster whale which I have to confront forever...

    But at least, here I have good comrades like you, Mike, and I'm happy with that.

  8. #28
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    Sorry,Mike. While you were responding to me, I edited the last part of my last message.

    Any comments on this one?:

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    Isn't there any formula to differentiate "It is (a noun) to X" = "(It =a pronoun) is [(a noun)+ (to X)]" from "It is (a noun) to X"="To X is (a noun)"?
    I'm not sure I understand that one.

    First we have to differentiate the two "it"s, because they are both called pronouns. For now let's call one It (DS) (delayed subject) and the other It (PN) (pronoun), with the latter referring to something outside the sentence.

    [It (PN)] is [noun] [infinitive - modifier] would be the Moby Dick formula, with the infinitive acting as a modifier.

    [It (DS] is [noun] [infinitive - noun] would be "It is a good thing to be rich." That tuens to "To be rich" is a good thing.

    I can't think of an example of:

    [It (PN) is [noun] [infinitive] where the infinitive is a noun.


    Moby Dick...yeah. English is certainly a big white monster whale which I have to confront forever...

    But at least, here I have good comrades like you, Mike, and I'm happy with that.


    I acn tell by the depth of your questions that you are doing very well with English. Most native speakers wouldn't even be able to ask what you ask. :wink:

  9. #29
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork

    I'm not sure I understand that one.

    First we have to differentiate the two "it"s, because they are both called pronouns. For now let's call one It (DS) (delayed subject) and the other It (PN) (pronoun), with the latter referring to something outside the sentence.

    [It (PN)] is [noun] [infinitive - modifier] would be the Moby Dick formula, with the infinitive acting as a modifier.

    [It (DS] is [noun] [infinitive - noun] would be "It is a good thing to be rich." That tuens to "To be rich" is a good thing.

    I can't think of an example of:

    [It (PN) is [noun] [infinitive] where the infinitive is a noun.
    OK. In short, on the surface they look the same and you cannot tell the difference. But they ARE semantically different so I have to be careful with the meaning in each sentence. Carefulness is the key to the differentiation. Right?

    Besides paying attention to the meaning, I think your "infinitives-used-as-modifiers-cannot-be-delayed subjects" rule is also useful. I guess the problem in the "memory" example was that it seemed to me that both DS and PS interpretation was possible. In addition to that, my academic background of psychology deeply affected my interpretation; I learned in my cognitive psychology class that memory is an art not only to remember but also to forget.

    Anyway, now I understand that the "it"s are in this case preparatory.

    Thank you very very much, Mike. I really appreciate your help. I mean, really (I guess you are a very busy man as a veterinarian. Thanks for spareing your precious time).


    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    I acn tell by the depth of your questions that you are doing very well with English. Most native speakers wouldn't even be able to ask what you ask. :wink:
    If I were not a teacher of English here in Japan, I wouldn't bother myself ( and you teachers) this much!

    But still, English is fun.

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    OK. In short, on the surface they look the same and you cannot tell the difference. But they ARE semantically different so I have to be careful with the meaning in each sentence. Carefulness is the key to the differentiation. Right?

    Besides paying attention to the meaning, I think your "infinitives-used-as-modifiers-cannot-be-delayed subjects" rule is also useful. I guess the problem in the "memory" example was that it seemed to me that both DS and PS interpretation was possible. In addition to that, my academic background of psychology deeply affected my interpretation; I learned in my cognitive psychology class that memory is an art not only to remember but also to forget.

    Anyway, now I understand that the "it"s are in this case preparatory.

    Thank you very very much, Mike. I really appreciate your help. I mean, really (I guess you are a very busy man as a veterinarian. Thanks for spareing your precious time).
    You're very welcome. I enjoy helping people understand English. :D


    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    I acn tell by the depth of your questions that you are doing very well with English. Most native speakers wouldn't even be able to ask what you ask. :wink:
    If I were not a teacher of English here in Japan, I wouldn't bother myself ( and you teachers) this much!

    But still, English is fun.
    It is, indeed.

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