Grammar 20


Noun Clauses (in Sentences with Dummy Subjects)

Having studied noun clauses, you are now in a better position to understand certain sentences with dummy subjects.

Consider this sentence:

Grammatically, that sentence looks like this::

complement real subject


important that I go.

If we were to put the real subject of that sentence back at the beginning, our sentence would look like this:

Which raises the question: What's the difference between these two sentences?

The answer is "not much." Grammatically, they're different, but the meaning is the same.

And yet, there may be reasons to choose one over the other.

For example, you'll recall that the final position of a sentence carries more weight. So we might consider: What word (or phrase) do we want to emphasize? (Imagine shouting out the words in bold).

It's a subtle difference, but it's there.

Also, if the "real" subject of a sentence is a noun clause that is very long, it will almost certainly sound better at the end of the sentence. Compare the following:

I think you'll agree that the second sentence sounds better.

Instructions for the Quiz

Identify the highlighted word (or words).