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How to do away with the pronoun “it”

Home » English Grammar & Linguistics » How to do away with the pronoun “it”

Pronominalization is the use of a pronoun instead of a noun.

Pronominalization is appropriate where “a noun or noun phrase in an embedded sentence is . . . identical to a constituent, or constituents, in the matrix noun phrase.” [1]Kendall, Marth B. “Relative Clause Formation and Topicalization in Yavapai.” International Journal of American Linguistics, vol. 40, no. 2, Apr. 1974, pp. 89–89., www.jstor.org/stable/1264343.

Below are some examples where a noun (bolded and italicized) in an embedded clause (a constituent part of another clause) is identical to the noun (bolded) in the matrix clause (which contains the embedded clause), and has therefore been pronominalized. Mind you, these sentences are not terribly grammatical, but they illustrate an alternative. These sentences will illustrate that pronominalization is an approach to relativization. This is the construction of relative clauses, which, according to an abstract by John Lawler from Constraints on Variables in Syntax by Haj Ross, contain “a noun head and a modifying clause.”

Mind you, these sentences are not terribly grammatical, but they illustrate an alternative.

  • He steered clear of the danger that manifested itself as the individual wanting more credit than he or she could afford to repay it.
  • This is way harder than expected it to be.
  • He was suddenly worried that he’d allowed their silence to have made the situation worse than he had calculated it.
  • They had more in common than she had even thought it possible, she thought.
  • He knew that the amount would be a hard thing for them to figure it out. (The verb awkwardly sits at the most important position in a sentence, the end.)

With the exception of the last two sentences, the rest features an alternative relative-formation rule. John Lawler made the following observation in his abstract, the Real-life effect of Ross Constraints:

[They] are generated when, at the last minute, the speaker realizes what is going to result, and cancels the deletion, substituting an alternative relative-formation rule (called a Resumptive Pronoun in the trade), which merely pronominalizes the coreferential NP, instead of deleting it in the object position.

(Topic 5)

Note that the verbs, coloured, are transitive, or are being used transitively.

Here are the corrected and more grammatical versions of the above sentences

  • He steered clear of the danger that manifested itself as the individual wanting more credit than what he or she could afford to repay.
  • This is way harder than what I expected.
  • He was suddenly worried that he had allowed their silence to make the situation worse than what he would have calculated.
  • They had more in common than what she had even thought possible, she thought.
  • He knew that it would be a hard thing for them to figure out the amount. (It is a “dummy it,” i.e., He knew that the amount would be a hard thing for them to figure out.)

The above sentence were taken from my novel, What’s in a Name.

References

References
1 Kendall, Marth B. “Relative Clause Formation and Topicalization in Yavapai.” International Journal of American Linguistics, vol. 40, no. 2, Apr. 1974, pp. 89–89., www.jstor.org/stable/1264343.
Garie McIntosh
Garie McIntosh
Hi, I’m Garie. Since 2016, I’ve been engaged in intense academic studies and research through problem-based learning. This has been a time during which I discovered the learning theories that work for me, and applied them so that I could teach myself not only English grammar but also the linguistic aspect of the language. My objective is to engender understanding through the Socratic and the life-affirming and build new knowledge through making innovative connections. I have formally translated my learning education into McIntoshLinguistics, an organization that I developed on the Microsoft platform. The organization enables me to use my educational and grammatical editing model to support educational processes and meet traditional publishing standards. Through a Microsoft Qualified Educational User designation, the objective is to utilize Microsoft Teams Education to build a professional learning community and create unique processes and methods through grammatical and linguistic studies. As a literary fiction writer, I have published my first novel, “What’s in a Name.” By utilizing Microsoft applications to help me develop and formalize pedagogical processes and methods, I am able to produce manuscripts that are highly readable and semantically sound.

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