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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Sentence Diagramming 14. The Expletive

Difficulty: 0

I want to look at these two sentences to

show you what an expletive is and that

is it is a certain kind of pronoun that

doesn't actually refer to anything so

it's also called a dummy pronoun it

looks like a regular pronoun and

pronouns normally have antecedents that

is that refer to something but an

expletive is a pronoun that doesn't

refer to anything and we can diagram

expletives in and get a handle on how

they function in English sentences so if

we look at these two sentences that

superficially it seems similar we can

get a handle on this so it is a fact

that time is short and it is a fact that

time for God now the words here are

quite similar this sentence would mean

something this would be metaphorical it

meaning that time for God a certain fact

this is a fact that has been lost to

history that nobody remembers it's a

fact that time for God no one knows it

so for example which of your

great-great-grandparents woke up first

on June 2nd

18-49 nobody knows that that is a fact

that time has forgotten so that's what

that sentence would mean and this

sentence is the fact that time is short

well that just means that there's not

much time time is short but notice here

this one I had to supply some fact that

this it refers to about your great-great

grandparents or whatever it is this

thing that has been forgotten when I was

looking at this one I didn't have to do

that because I know what this is saying

I know everything that this sentence is

talking about this sentence is telling

us the time is short and nothing else

this one there's some it that is a fact

that we have forgotten but the sentence

doesn't tell us what this it

is and that tells you that this hit that

looks like an H this it is actually

referring to something something that we

don't we don't learn about in the

sentence it has an antecedent somewhere

else so this is a normal good

old-fashioned it it is a pronoun with an

antecedent but this is clearly is not

because there's nothing outside this

sentence that we need to know in order

to know everything that the sentence is

telling us so this thing here is called

an expletive it is or a dummy pronoun it

actually doesn't refer to anything it's

just holding the place of the subject

and this shouldn't become clearer when

we diagram so this one here how would we

diagram that we would have it as the

subject is is the verb of a week so this

is a copulative verb so that means what

we have is a subjective compliment fact

is a subjective compliment what kind of

fact a fact and this one here that time

forgot is a relative clause and so what

we do with relative clauses as you

recall we need another baseline the verb

is forgot who did the forgetting well

time and time what we do with is that

well it is the direct object time for

God that that's what time for God time


that so that is our relative pronoun and

we draw a dotted line to the noun that

it modifies and that's what it modifies

which packed the fact that time for God

well it's quite different over here so

there's the diagram here I'll draw the

baseline right here so we have it again

is in the subject position and it is

what is it it is still a fact now the

question is what do you do with this

well this is not a relative clause it's

not a modifying fact it is a fact that

time is short you know what kind of fact

is it the time is short

that's what kind of fact note that

doesn't make any sense as opposed to

this one what kind of fact is it it's a

fact that time for God that does make

sense so what this thing actually is is

the thing that is a fact that time is

short that is the fact but it's not an

appositive here that wouldn't make sense

either in fact what it is is something

that goes here this is how we diagram it

we put it on a pedestal because it's

actually nominal and this is very simple

here time is and short is the subjective

complement an adjective of subjective

complement as opposed to this

which was a nominal subjective

compliment and that is another expletive

which we've put up here it doesn't

actually do anything in the sentence

grammatically doesn't fulfill any

central role but it's it's just there

it's hold this it's a placeholder and so

you see what we do here is to just show

that this it is is a dummy is that we

put this the thing that really is the

fact over here in the subject position

as if it weren't a positive to it which

is the sort of the closest thing in a

common sense way that it actually is

doing so this is how we would diagram a

sentence with that begins with the

expletive it as in it is a fact that

time is short that it doesn't refer to

anything and so we move this over here

so that's the difference between two

sentences that look the same but in fact

one begins with an expletive and one

begins with a normal pronoun with an


The Description of Sentence Diagramming 14. The Expletive