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    #1

    Subject?

    Hello Teachers,

    I have a sentence as follow.

    "It takes years to rebuild this city's infrastructure."

    What is the subject of the sentence?

    Thanks in advance.

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    #2

    Re: Subject?

    It / takes / years

    Would it help if the verb is changed?
    It requires years . . .

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    #3

    Re: Subject?

    Quote Originally Posted by nagara View Post
    Hello Teachers,

    I have a sentence as follow.

    "It takes years to rebuild this city's infrastructure."

    What is the subject of the sentence?

    Thanks in advance.
    Hi!

    The subject would be "it". It's called "preparatory it".

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    #4

    Re: Subject?

    Hi everyone,
    Thanks for your comment.

    Reflecting to my learning experience, I have learnt that "It" is an empty subject. So the real subject is the one that stays behind the verb.

    "It takes years to rebuild the city's infrastructure." or
    "To rebuild the city's infrastructure takes years."

    The real subject would be "To build the city's infrastructure".

    Please help correct me if i am wrong.

    Thank you very much.

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    #5

    Re: Subject?

    Quote Originally Posted by nagara View Post
    Hi everyone,
    Thanks for your comment.

    Reflecting to my learning experience, I have learnt that "It" is an empty subject. So the real subject is the one that stays behind the verb.

    "It takes years to rebuild the city's infrastructure." or
    "To rebuild the city's infrastructure takes years."

    The real subject would be "To build the city's infrastructure".

    Please help correct me if i am wrong.

    Thank you very much.
    Hmm, this looks interesting. Where exactly have you learned that? Do you have references?

    In principle I would stick with the other posters and say the subject of your original sentence is simply "it". I don't see any problem with that. In your second example you have paraphrased the sentence, so it is another sentence with another subject.

    What do you mean by "behind the verb" ?

    Using your "system" what would be the subject of the sentence "it's raining" ?

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    #6

    Re: Subject?

    This topic seems interesting.

    There is this somewhat poor wikipedia article:
    Impersonal verb - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (you could enhance it yourself after studying the subject deeper)

    I've found also this interesting article by P. W. Reiman: http://dspace.uta.edu/bitstream/hand...pdf?sequence=1

    There are plenty of other references on the Internet, they go by the names
    "empty subject", "dummy subject", "preparatory it" (as pointed out by MASM),
    "weather subject" and many others. I think you should read some of them carefully and try to explain your conclusions to us (I mean it!)

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    #7

    Re: Subject?

    The grammatical subject is 'it'.

    Some linguists, however, find it useful to distinguish a so-called 'semantic subject', which is here the complemental infinitive phrase to which the speaker is referring.

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    #8

    Re: Subject?

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    The grammatical subject is 'it'.

    Some linguists, however, find it useful to distinguish a so-called 'semantic subject', which is here the complemental infinitive phrase to which the speaker is referring.
    Thanks philo2009. I suspected this was a controversial point. I understand there are different models (systems) to describe language.

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    #9

    Re: Subject?

    Quote Originally Posted by nagara View Post
    Hello Teachers,

    I have a sentence as follow.

    "It takes years to rebuild this city's infrastructure."

    What is the subject of the sentence?

    Thanks in advance.
    NOT A TEACHER

    (1) I agree with the other posters.

    (2) In Descriptive English Grammar by Homer C. House and Susan

    Harman (an old but wonderful grammar for ordinary people like me), this

    example is given:

    It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.

    Explanation:

    (a) The subject is it (an introductory pronoun or so-called "expletive").

    (b) The logical subject ("To give thanks unto the Lord") follows the verb.

    (c) "To give thanks unto the Lord" is an infinitive phrase in apposition with

    "it."

    (3) Thus, we might parse your sentence as:

    It (to rebuild this city's infrastructure) / takes / years.

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    #10

    Re: Subject?

    Hi! I was missing the rest of this interesting thread!

    I found this "preparatory it" in Mr. Swan's book. This structure It takes....+ infinitive.
    According to what he says we use it to say how much time is necessary.
    "It takes years to rebuild this city's infrastructure." It would be the subject in this case and to rebuild this city's infrastructure would be the infinitive.

    I quite agree with the idea of the semantic subject as it makes sense if you rephrase the sentence, but I think that in a formal analysis you'll treat "it" as subject.

    Thank you all for your witty comments

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