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  1. AlJapone's Avatar
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    #1

    It in "[noun] whose [noun] it is to do ..."

    Dear teachers.

    I often come across this kind of sentences:a person/things/etc. whose job/duty/function/etc. it is to ...
    I suppose 'it' in the sentences is in appositive relation to nouns that follow whose. Are there any rules that govern this use of it along with apposition in general, especially rules including cases without commas for separation?
    I have one more question. It is how this kind of it affects the meaning. I would also like to know what kind of tone it adds if it is just a matter of style. Please let me know your opinions.


    Best wishes,
    AlJapone
    Last edited by AlJapone; 30-Dec-2010 at 21:45.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: It in "[noun] whose [noun] it is to do ..."

    Quote Originally Posted by AlJapone View Post
    Dear teachers.

    I often come across this kind of sentence [STRIKE]s[/STRIKE]: a person/things/etc. whose job/duty/function/etc. it is to ...
    I suppose 'it' in the sentences is in appositive relation to nouns that follow whose. Are there any rules that govern this use of it along with apposition in general, especially rules including cases without commas for separation?

    I have one more question. It is how this kind of it affects the meaning. I would also like to know what kind of tone it adds if it is just a matter of style. Please let me know your opinions.


    Best wishes,
    AlJapone
    1. "This is the person whose job it is to make the coffee."
    2. "It is the job of this person to make the coffee"

    3. "The people whose job it is to catch criminals are the police."
    4. "It is the job of the police to catch criminals"

    There's a difference in meaning between these two ways of saying something. In sentences 2 and 4, it sppears that that is the person's/police's only job. Sentences 1 and 3, however, merely point out whose job something is.

    3 and 4, for example, are the answers to the following two questions, respectively:
    5. "Whose job is it to catch criminals?"
    6. "What is the job of the police?"

    I'm not sure what rules you want to know about.

  3. AlJapone's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: It in "[noun] whose [noun] it is to do ..."

    First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for your correction of that error in my first post. Countable or Uncountable, this is one of the hardest problems for me.
    Thank you very much, Raymott.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    [I]I'm not sure what rules you want to know about.
    Now I restate my questions as follows:
    What is the difference between "whose ... it is to" and "whose ... is to" if you can drop (or insert) "it" retaining the meaning?
    And what grammatical rules justify its insertion? I ask this because it seems, at least to me, quiet unusual that a noun and its pronoun occur side by side without commas in appositive relation of a sort.


    Best wishes,
    AlJapone
    Last edited by AlJapone; 31-Dec-2010 at 04:10.

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    #4

    Re: It in "[noun] whose [noun] it is to do ..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    "This is the person whose job it is to make the coffee."
    Is it incorrect to say/write:
    "This is the person whose job is to make the coffee."?

    Update:
    I saw the previous post by AlJapone after postingbut I am having exactly the same problem - I would never have guessed to insert "it" on my own (without copying some authoritative to me sentence structure)
    Last edited by vgv8; 31-Dec-2010 at 04:28.

  4. lauralie2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: It in "[noun] whose [noun] it is to do ..."

    Quote Originally Posted by AlJapone View Post
    Now I restate my questions as follows:

    What is the difference between "whose ... it is to" and "whose ... is to" if you can drop (or insert) "it" retaining the meaning?

    And what grammatical rules justify its insertion?
    Based on what I know, you're dealing with style:


    • A plumber is a person.
    • It is a plumber's job to fix the pipes.

    Relative Clause Formation
    A plumber is a person whose job it is to repair the pipes.
    • A plumber is a person.
    • A plumber's job is to fix the pipes.

    Relative Clause Formation
    A plumber is a person whose job is to fix the pipes.
    Learn more here. See also Post #24 here.

  5. AlJapone's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: It in "[noun] whose [noun] it is to do ..."

    Thank you, lauralie2.
    Now I understand why those two kinds of sentence exist and that both are grammatically correct.
    I think, in hindsight, I should have understood it when I read Raymott's post, which included all the necessary information on this issue.
    Thank you, everyone.

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    #7

    Re: It in "[noun] whose [noun] it is to do ..."

    Quote Originally Posted by AlJapone View Post
    Dear teachers.

    I often come across this kind of sentences:a person/things/etc. whose job/duty/function/etc. it is to ...
    I suppose 'it' in the sentences is in appositive relation to nouns that follow whose. Are there any rules that govern this use of it along with apposition in general, especially rules including cases without commas for separation?
    I have one more question. It is how this kind of it affects the meaning. I would also like to know what kind of tone it adds if it is just a matter of style. Please let me know your opinions.


    Best wishes,
    AlJapone

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    AlJapone,


    As you can see, your intriguing question has generated a lot of

    interest among other members.

    I have found something that may interest you.

    (1) I was able to find this in Professor Randolph Quirk's authoritative

    A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (London and

    New York: Longman, 1985).

    (a) On page 1394, the professor (and his colleagues) gives these

    sentences:

    To teach Elizabeth is a pleasure.

    It is a pleasure to teach Elizabeth. [Only my comments: I guess

    most grammar books would analyze this as: It (to teach Elizabeth) is a

    pleasure.]

    Elizabeth is a pleasure to teach.

    (b) On page 1395, he writes that we can also say/write:

    Elizabeth [pause] it is a pleasure to teach.

    He says that this is done for "rhetorical emphasis."

    And what does "rhetorical emphasis" mean? I think that

    he explains it on page 1377:

    It is as if the thematic element ["Elizabeth"?] is the first thing

    that strikes the speaker , and the rest is added as an afterthought.

    This is now only my thought:

    Suppose you were Elizabeth's teacher. Let's say she is one of

    your best students. One day her parents visit you to find out how

    she is doing. You are very enthusiastic. You almost yell:

    ELIZabeth (pause) it is a pleasure to teach!!! In other words,

    Elizabeth (as the professor said) is the first thing that comes to

    your mind. See how it differs from the three other ways that are

    given above.

    *****


    A very qualified teacher of English has just told me that she

    "always" uses a sentence such as:

    A journalist is a person whose job it is to report the news.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR

    P.S. Professor Quirk's colleagues also deserve credit:

    Professors Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and

    Jan Svartvik.

  6. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: It in "[noun] whose [noun] it is to do ..."

    Quote Originally Posted by vgv8 View Post
    Is it incorrect to say/write:
    "This is the person whose job is to make the coffee."?
    Yes, I see now. Lauralie and her links have tackled the syntactical aspect of the question well, ie. the difference between:
    1. "This is the person whose job it is to make the coffee."
    2. "This is the person whose job is to make the coffee."

    I’ll make an additional note about the semantics.
    "Mary's job is to make the coffee." - That's why she's here. It's her primary function.
    "It's Mary's job to make the coffee." = "It's Mary whose job it is to make the coffee" - That is one of her roles. It's not necessarily her primary reason for being there.

    For questions in general, “it” is used. The following are unusual:
    * “Whose job is to make coffee?”
    * “Who are the people whose role is to catch criminals?”
    * “Whose role is to fix pipes?”

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    #9

    Re: It in "[noun] whose [noun] it is to do ..."

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****
    *****
    ELIZabeth (pause) it is a pleasure to teach!!! In other words,
    Elizabeth (as the professor said) is the first thing that comes to
    your mind. See how it differs from the three other ways that are
    given above.

    *****

    A very qualified teacher of English has just told me that she
    "always" uses a sentence such as:
    A journalist is a person whose job it is to report the news.
    Do teachers (and reporters) write or just talk (in their use of English)?

    This still sounds to me to be specific to an oral talk or literary tricks to convey oral mumbling in writing.

    I am still not sure is it proper to insert (this redundant) "it" into such cases/patterns into technical or scientific articles

  7. lauralie2's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: It in "[noun] whose [noun] it is to do ..."

    Quote Originally Posted by vgv8 View Post
    I am still not sure is it proper to insert (this redundant) "it" into such cases/patterns into technical or scientific articles
    Using 'it' is standard English; omitting it is a new development. You've misunderstood the issue.

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