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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    What 'it' indicates in the sentence

    Please explain to me the structure of following sentences, the part starting with what is ~.
    In particular, it is not clear to me what 'it' indicates in them.

    It is worth asking what it is about it that non-specialists find so appealing.

    You should ask yourself what it is about it that attracts you.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: What 'it' indicates in the sentence

    The first is impersonal: "I can't say what it is that interests me..." [= 'I can't identify that thing - whatever it may be - that interests me.'] The second refers back to something mentioned in a previous sentence.

    b

  3. Newbie
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    #3

    Re: What 'it' indicates in the sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    The first is impersonal: "I can't say what it is that interests me..." [= 'I can't identify that thing - whatever it may be - that interests me.'] The second refers back to something mentioned in a previous sentence.

    b
    What should be the subject of "interests?"
    I think "that" is a subject relative pronoun.
    Then what does "that" replace?
    Perhaps "that" replaces "it" like "what it that interests me is"?

  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: What 'it' indicates in the sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by mynick View Post
    What should be the subject of "interests?"

    Whatever does the interesting is the subject. It is not specified.

    I think "that" is a subject relative pronoun.
    Then what does "that" replace?

    Perhaps "that" replaces "it" like "what it that interests me is"?
    It doesn't replace anything. In the phrase "that thing" (which, incidentally is the object of "identify"), that is a demonstrative adjective.

    b

  5. Newbie
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    #5

    Re: What 'it' indicates in the sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    It doesn't replace anything. In the phrase "that thing" (which, incidentally is the object of "identify"), that is a demonstrative adjective.

    b
    Sorry but I don't understand clearly.
    In "what it is that interests me", I think the original order of this phrase is "it is what that interests me."
    "that" is a relative pronoun and it is also subject pronoun followed by the verb "interests"

  6. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: What 'it' indicates in the sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by mynick View Post
    Sorry but I don't understand clearly.
    In "what it is that interests me", I think the original order of this phrase is "it is what that interests me."
    "that" is a relative pronoun and it is also subject pronoun followed by the verb "interests"
    We are talking at cross purposes; I am talking about identify (of which "that thing" is the object, and you are talking about "interests" (of which "that thing" is the subject). Your supposed original version - 'it is what that interests me' - makes sense (and is even grammatical) if you replace 'what' with 'some thing' (note, I didn't say "something" )

    b

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