Ask Your Question
0

What does 'it' refer to here?

asked 2019-04-06 23:39:27 -0400

Hello there, I was asked a question about what the word "it" refers to in the following text.

Agnesi was the first woman to write a mathematics textbook and to be appointed to a university chair in math .... Agnesi's textbook was praised in 1749 by the French Academy: "It took much skill and good judgment to reduce to almost uniform methods discoveries scattered among the works of many mathematicians very different from each other."

  1. "It took much skill ....." Does this "It" refer to "to reduce .... each other."?

  2. What word would you say the phrase "very different from each other" modifies, discoveries or mathemiticians? At first reading it sounds like it modifies mathematicians, but judging from the content, I'd say discoveries.

Any opinions here would be much appreciated! Many thanks. MC

edit retag flag offensive close merge delete

1 answer

Sort by ยป oldest newest most voted
0

answered 2019-04-10 18:26:22 -0400

ipanda gravatar image

Hello,

Here's my take. I'd say:

  1. it is a dummy subject in this case. As in It takes time to do x. to reduce ...each other is an extraposed subject and the dummy it stands for that subject (it does not refer to it). This type of construction is used when the subject is too heavy to be placed at the beginning of the sentence. Compare with:

to reduce to almost uniform methods discoveries scattered among the works of many mathematicians very different from each other took much skill and good judgement.

  1. very different from each other modifies the nominal mathematicians. It's is too distant from the nominal discoveries to be modifying it. I'd use full relative clauses conjoined by and if I wanted scattered among the works of many mathematicians and very different from each other to both be modifiers of discoveries. I'm no expert on this but I think it should be on the right track.

ATB,

IP

edit flag offensive delete link more
Login/Signup to Answer

Question Tools

1 follower

Stats

Asked: 2019-04-06 23:39:27 -0400

Seen: 114 times

Last updated: Apr 10