Hi teachers,

Information to consider: 'Who is that woman? It is Mrs. Elsie'.

Do we use 'It' in the answer because we are substituting 'that woman' which is a comon noun? Is that so?

Thanks in advance
1 2
Hi Thinking Spain,

In my opinion it is a provisional subject here.

And one more thing: You have mentioned about common noun. It looks as if you think 'it' cannot refer to a common noun.

Is it?
vsureshAnd one more thing: You have mentioned about common noun. It looks as if you think 'it' cannot refer to a common noun.
Hi vsuresh

No at all. In fact 'woman' is a common noun. That's why I've said if 'it' subtitutes 'that woman'.

By the way, there's an email in my profile. You can write me there if you wish.

TS
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Thinking SpainDo we use 'It' in the answer because we are substituting 'that woman' which is a comon noun? Is that so?
I don't think so. The pronomial substitute for "that woman" as a sentence subject is "she".

For example, we might say,

That woman is pretty, isn't she?

But not

*That woman is pretty, isn't it?

The explanation for the use of "it" in your example sentence must be something else. Emotion: smile

CJ
Hi Thinking Spain

I agree with Jim

I would call it the "idiomatic it". It looks as if it is used to refer back to another noun but, in fact, it is just being used to give shape to the sentence. It is used in very general situations..

- Oh, look who it is - it's Mrs Elsie

- What's the weather like outside?

- It's snowing

- How is Mrs Elsie?

- It's not looking too good for her

I wish I could give you a general rule, but it just is an idiom

Best regards, Dave
Hi CalifJim

What is your opinion about it being the provisional subject in the sentence 'It is Elsa'?

Suresh
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
vsureshHi CalifJim
What is your opinion about it being the provisional subject in the sentence 'It is Elsa'?

Suresh
I don't think that's the right explanation either!

A provisional subject is one that stands in the position of a subject because the true subject has been postponed to a later part of the sentence. For example,

It is important that we leave soon> That we leave soon is important.

It's not necessary to open that door. > To open that door is not necessary.

In each case we can find the subject at the end, put it at the beginning and remove "it", and we get another sentence that means something intelligible.

But with the sentence below, what do we do?

It is Mrs. Elsie. > Mrs. Elsie is.

We don't get a sentence that makes any sense, do we? Must we claim that the real meaning is shown in this version without "it"?

- Who is that woman?

- Mrs. Elsie is. << Is this as meaningful and grammatical as That we leave soon is important?

You may legitimately answer "yes" or "no". I think it's a matter of opinion.

(It's probably obvious that I vote "no". Emotion: smile )

CJ
It is very kind of you for a detailed explanation. I thoroughly agree with your reasoning.

Thank you for your effort.

What do you think is the role of 'it' in the sentence? And what part of speech is 'it' here?

Suresh
Hi dave_anon,

Thank you for your reply. I really appreciate it.

TS
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more