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grammatical question about an English sentence Would you please help me with the following sentence? This is from an article discussing about the death penalty. "Personally, I am an opponent of the death penalty. I believe that punishments should reflect the nature and effect of crimes, but that the ultimate penalty should not be used. MISTAKES COULD BE MADE WHICH IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO RECTIFY." I think the sentence above should omit IT and should be written as "MISTAKES COULD BE MADE WHICH IS NOT POSSIBLE TO RECTIFY." because WHICH represents MISTAKES here. So why the author insert IT in the original sentence? What does IT represent in his sentence? Thanks a lot!
Jan 25, 2012 1:21 PM
Answers · 8
Sakaverde is right about the subject verb agreement but the sentence begins as the second conditional using "could" in the present but the result clause is the first conditional? That is new to me! The sentence should be structured like this: "Mistakes could be made which would be impossible to rectify." We use "it" to represent what follows ("it is easy to do things like that") so in that sense "it" may be used to show a condition exists without being done by any specified person or thing.
January 25, 2012
Put it simple. It is not possible to rectify which. Now think of the "which" as an ordinary noun like "apple" in your mind. Hypothetically. Yes. The "which" is the object of the verb, "rectify". And the "it" represents the same thing as in "it is nice to meet you". Regarding your further questions, Underneath PB: 1 That works in a way, sometimes. But sometimes not. Usually they say, "it is nice to meet you". "Meeting you is nice" rather than "to meet you is nice". Although "to meet... nice" is grammatically correct. And you can rarely hear people say "meeting you is nice", because it sounds like you are a judge now judging if this event, "meeting you", is whether nice or not, it's a stiff and stupid statement rather than a common compliment when you first meet someone. 2 It's the relative pronoun (here referring to "mistakes"), whatever subjects of the (main) sentence. 3 sounds no problem at all. I mean good in this context only, can also say "Mistakes... and... rectify them", or "... and they are not possible to rectify". Questions under Mr. Sakaverde's answer: 1 Yes you can. 2 Yes you uh... morphologically can. I'd consider replacing the last verb because "rectify" is for "mistakes", but when "which" represents the initial statement, better be something like, "..., which is not possible to avoid".
January 25, 2012
The IT refers to the act of making mistakes. If you were to omit the IT you would have to use ARE instead of IS, because the relative pronoun WHICH would be directly referencing the previously mentioned subject MISTAKES which is plural. So the sentence would be: MISTAKES COULD BE MADE WHICH ARE NOT POSSIBLE TO RECTIFY.
January 25, 2012
Well, first of all this is not a very well written sentence. It would be much better as: "Mistakes could be made which cannot be rectified." Even then it's not great. The sentence uses a relative pronoun to combine two sentences. For example: I work for a company. + It has offices all over the world. = I work for a company that has offices all over the world. Here, the two sentences are: Mistakes could be made. + It is not possible to rectify the mistakes. That is how "it" ended up in the sentence. The writer just smashed the two sentences together and added "which."
January 26, 2012
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Chinese (Mandarin), English, Japanese
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