a face that's almost <impossible> not to love

park sang joon

Senior Member
Korean
With her big round eyes, her nose and her I'm ready-for-fun expression, the kitten named cc (short for carbon copy and copycat) has a face that's almost impossible not to love, which may help explain why the hostility that usually accompanies news on the cloning front was almost drowned out last week by the sound of the press corps cooing on cue.
[Source: Reading for Results Ninth Edition by Laraine Flemming]

I have been taught both "be possible" and "be impossible" don't have any other subject besides the provisional subject "it" except in the case that "impossible" means with a human subject "behaving in a very unreasonable and annoying way."
And they don't have tough movement as the following.
1. It is difficult to drive this car.
2. -> This car is difficult to drive.

But in my example, the subject of "is impossible" is a face.
So I'd like to know in my example why "is impossible" can take the subject "a face."
Thank you in advance for your help.
 
Last edited:
  • Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    Because what you have been taught is incorrect, or at least incomplete. The subject of "impossible" can also be the pronoun "that".
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I have been taught both "be possible" and "be impossible" don't have any other subject besides the provisional subject "it"
    Your teacher gave you guidance, he/she did not give you an absolute rule. The neutral pronouns they, this, that, these, and those, also work.

    Impossible is particularly flexible:

    That mountain is impossible to climb.
    A square circle is impossible.
    He is angry and rude: he is impossible to deal with.
    The crowd/They are impossible to please.

    Possible seems less flexible:

    The puzzles are difficult but they are possible to solve.
    After years of study, it was possible to understand the language.
     

    park sang joon

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you, PaulQ and Glenfarclas for your very helpful answer.
    A square circle is impossible
    The example is correct; it's perfectly normal English.
    Then, I'd like to know if "be impossible" can take a human/ thingy subject without any conditions.
     
    Last edited:

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    Then, I'd like to know if "be impossible" can take a human/ thingy subject without any conditions.
    What do you mean "without any conditions"?
    There is no problem with writing
    "A square circle is impossible" - no further context is necessary.
    But it requires a particular context to say, for example
    "A hat is impossible"
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Yes, a face that it's possible to love sounds fine to me, as do:
    A sentence that it is possible to speak, and not a sentence that is possible to speak.
    A conclusion that it is possible to reach, and not a conclusion that is possible to reach.
     

    neal41

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    But in my example, the subject of "is impossible" is a face.
    So I'd like to know in my example why "is impossible" can take the subject "a face."
    In your example "that's almost impossible not to love" is an adjectival/relative clause that modifies 'face'. 'That' is a relative pronoun which plays a syntactic role in the clause. 'That' replaces 'a face' in the clause.

    it is impossible not to love that
    it is impossible not to love a face

    In the clause 'a face', or equivalently the relative pronoun 'that' that replaces it, is the object of the infinitive 'love'. The subject of the clause (or equivalently of 'is impossible') is either the infinitive phrase 'not to love a face' or the dummy subject 'it'.
     

    park sang joon

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you, everyone, for your valuable answer. :)
    I was piecing together your opinions
    So. I'd like to know if "be impossible" is allowed "tough movement," unlike "possible."
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I dont see anything wrong with either
    1. It is impossible to drive this car.
    or

    2. -> This car is impossible to drive.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top