I would greatly appreciate <it if you did><that>

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JJXR

Senior Member
Russian
Hello to all,

Thanks for reading my post.


Context:


I send my former employer a message asking him whether he has some work for me. He says he doesn't. Then, I send another message, which is the sentence below.

Sample sentence:

If you happen to have some work in the future, please let me know. Also, I want you to know that I'm looking for a full-time job, so again if you have something to offer in the future, please do so (actually, I would greatly appreciate <it if you did><that>).

Question:

"It if you did" is what I used originally. Does the "that" in bold work as a substitute for "it if you did" here?


Thanks a lot for any comments, corrections or suggestions!

Regards,
JJXR
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    No, the substitute word is "it". I am not entirely sure why it should be "it" and not "that".

    This is a substitution you should make. The part in brackets is already going beyond what you need to say to convey your message, and you are beginning to sound a little desperate. There is nothing wrong with expressing your appreciation for him doing this, but try to use as few words as possible. In this case, as well as using "it", I would omit "actually".
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks for the response, Uncle Jack.

    From what I know, "it" refers to a noun preceding it:

    This is my house. [It = my house] is big.

    "That" refers to a verb preceding it:

    I'll be available at 6:00pm your time. Does [that = my being available at 6:00pm your time] work for you?

    Now, let's consider my sentence from post #1 with "it" in it as you suggest in post #2:

    If you happen to have some work in the future, please let me know. Also, I want you to know that I'm looking for a full-time job, so again if you have something to offer in the future, please do so (I would greatly appreciate it).

    What does the "it" in bold refer to: "something" or "your offering me something in the future"?
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    Standard General American English USA
    If you happen to have some work in the future, please let me know. Also, I want you to know that I'm looking for a full-time job, so again if you have something to offer in the future, please do so (I would greatly appreciate it).

    What does the "it" in bold refer to: "something" or "your offering me something in the future"?

    "It" refers to having something to offer in the future and then following through with an offer. It does not seem that "it" should refer to one or the other. "It" refers to both. If I had to choose one, however, I would choose "having an offer, or following through with an offer, in the future". The reason is that your former employer could have something and not follow through with an offer. So it's the offer in the future that you greatly appreciate and are counting on. Of course, without "something", there can be no future offer.

    As for "it" as opposed to "that", I would say this:

    Yes, it does seem inexplicable sometimes as to why we would use "it" to refer to a noun or a phrase as opposed to "that" or "this".

    I would say it has something to do with the weight of the word "it". Let's presume for a moment that this is dialogue or conversation.

    You - ... ... I would greatly appreciate it. <

    The weight of "it" is sufficient to refer to what you have just said. What you have just said is part of the same dialog turn and not removed from the word "it".

    But what happens if your former employer asks you if this is what you want him to do?

    "Would you like me to let you know if anything comes up that I could offer you?"

    For your reply, "that" works well here.

    Yes, I would greatly appreciate that.

    "That" has more weight than "it". And "that" works well here because "that" refers to something you did not say in this dialog turn. Because what you refer to is part of what someone else says, and in this way detached, the pronoun "that", which is weightier, works well here.

    "It" would also work well here.

    However, again, note in your original example that "that" does not work very well in place of "it".

    To test this, let's try it again. We can keep the same context and continue the dialogue.

    Let's imagine, for a moment, that your former employer calls you in a few months.

    Employer - Hi, I remember we were talking a few months ago. Didn't you say that you wanted me to call you back if something came up that I could offer you?

    You - Yes, that's what I said. I said that.

    ("Yes, it's what I said. I said it." < I do not believe that "it" works very well here.)

    "It" does not work as well as "that" with what you say above because you are referring to something that is not part of your dialog turn. It is detached from this turn, and "it" is too light to refer to something that is not part of the same dialog turn. "That" works much better in the speaker's reply to his former employer because "that" is a stronger marker in reference to what the employer said, which is not part of your dialogue turn.

    Of course, it is grammatically correct to use "it". However, the real question here is why one sounds better than the other. I would say it has to do with the weight of the pronoun and whether or not the pronoun refers to something that is part of the same dialog turn.

    Notice, also, that I used "it" in my comments above. I would say I'm able to use "it" in my comments above for the same reason that I stated in those comments.

    "It" refers to "why one sounds better than the other", and they're both part of the same dialogue turn.

    Referring to the underlined "it", I could have used "that" in place of "it". However I did not, and the first word that occurred to me was "it".

    _______________

    Another dialog example

    "It was really good of your former employer to come through with an offer for some work."

    "You can say that again."

    Not "You can say it again".

    Of course, the listener is not going to repeat the same sentence. This is a figurative phrase - a fixed phrase - that is used to reaffirm what someone just said or to express strong agreement with what someone just said.

    What I'm pointing out is that this expression uses "that", not "it". Again, "that" refers to something that is not part of the same dialog turn.

    This viewpoint of "it" as opposed to "that" is not a rule. We cannot expect it to work this way all the time. However, it seems to me that it is a reasonable explanation for why someone uses one or the other.

    _______________

    Two additional examples sentences that you posted with respect to "it" as opposed to "thrat"

    This is my house. [It = my house] is big. <

    This is my house, and it's big. <

    "It" refers to something that is part of the same dialog turn.

    Yes, it is big. <

    Expressing agreement in return, the speaker would also use "it", though "that" is also possible. That your house is big may not be very significant or very important. It's simply an observation. "It" handles referring to the idea that your house is very big easily.

    "That", I would say, is also possible because this is not part of the same dialogue turn.

    _______________

    I'll be available at 6:00pm your time. Does [that = my being available at 6:00pm your time] work for you? <

    I would say "that" works here because of the significance of what "that" refers to, which is whether or not 6:00 is good for the person listening. That's important, or we could say it carries some weight. And "it" would be too light to refer to this important thing.
     
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    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks for your responses, Uncle Jack and Steven David.

    If you happen to have some work in the future, please let me know. Also, I want you to know that I'm looking for a full-time job, so again if you have something to offer in the future, please do so (I would greatly appreciate this).

    Would it be correct to use "this" here?
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    Standard General American English USA
    Thanks for your responses, Uncle Jack and Steven David.

    If you happen to have some work in the future, please let me know. Also, I want you to know that I'm looking for a full-time job, so again if you have something to offer in the future, please do so (I would greatly appreciate this).

    Would it be correct to use "this" here?

    The simple answer is yes.

    However, it's not a question of whether or not it would be correct because, of course, it's grammatically correct. It's a question of whether or not it would sound good and how likely someone would use "this" to refer to an antecedent in this sentence.

    Yes, it would sound good, and someone could use "this" in that sentence.

    The reason that "this" would be good and okay in that sentence is that "this", more often, refers to something "closer" while "that", more often, refers to something "more distant". This is not a rule and not how it is all the time. However, it is like that sometimes, and when it is like that, it's noticeable.

    So as "it" refers to something in the same dialogue turn, which is close, "this" can also refer to something in the same dialogue turn because it is close (close meaning in the same dialogue turn).

    This is not a rule, and we cannot necessarily expect it to work this way all the time. This has to do with our perception of a noun or a noun phrase in context. This perception causes us to automatically choose "it, that, or this".

    With plural nouns, the choices are "they, those, and these".

    And when it's not in the same dialogue turn?

    "Employer - Would you like me to let you know if anything comes up that I can offer you?"

    You - "Yes, I would appreciate that."

    "Yes, I would appreciate this."

    mmm ... ... I would say "that" is the more likely choice here. And for those non-native speakers who want to approximate native speaker speech patterns in as many ways as possible, "that" is the word to use in this example.
     
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