it

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  • Forero

    Senior Member
    No, and no.

    You may depend on it that they are valuable. :cross:
    You may depend on their being valuable. :tick:
    It is certain that they are valuable. :tick:
    That they are valuable is certain. :tick:

    The it in the sample sentence is not a dummy subject but the object of on.

    The following sentence is essentially the same structure as the sample sentence, but is acceptable:

    You must see to it that they are kept safe. :tick:

    I think the difference in this case is that the it in my sentence is part of the expression "see to it" = "make sure", but the it in "depend on it" is the object of on and has to refer to something.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    We call it a dummy subject when it is used in place of the subject to allow a (long) subject to be delayed.

    I think we discussed the it in "I hate it when he sings" in another thread. It is not a place holder to delay anything. The meaning could be that I hate the noise he makes when he sings, the trouble his singing causes, or the fact that he is singing. To me, this it allows "when he sings" to mean "at the time(s) he sings" by blocking it from being the direct object of hate.

    Some native speakers give no meaning at all to it in such a sentence, but without the it, I take "I hate when he sings" to mean that I hate the time(s) at which he sings because the when clause has to be the direct object of hate.

    In the original sample sentence, "that they are valuable" is unlikely to be adverbial and must be the object of on, which leaves no purpose for it.
     
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