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Notional Subject denotes or points out a person or non-person. Formal Subject neither denotes nor points out any person or non-person. It’s only a structural element of the sentence filling the linear position of the subject. Grammatical Classification of the Subject
The former is expressed by a noun or noun phrase which denotes a human being ( directly or indirectly) or by pronouns or clause pointing out human beings. Person: The audience cheered wildly. I know all about it. Non-persons: Building houses becomes more difficult. The table was made of wood.
It is used in sentences describing various states of nature, or things in general, or characteristics of the environment, or denoting time, distance, or other measurements. E.g. : It’s cold today. Сегодня холодно. It turned out that she was deaf. Оказалось, что она глухая.
It introduces the notional subject expressed by an infinitive, a gerund , an infinitive gerundial phrase, a predicative complex, or a clause. E.g. : It’s impossible to deny this. Это невозможно отрицать. It would be wonderful for you to stay with us. Было бы замечательно для тебя остаться с нами.
Sentences with introductory It can be transformed into sentences with the notional subject in its usual position before the predicate. It was impossible to deny. To deny this was impossible. * The pattern with it accentuates the idea expressed by notional subject. The pattern without it accentuates the idea expressed in the predicate.
Sentences with introductory It must be distinguished from certain patterns with the notional subject It , where the latter refers back to a noun previously mentioned. Her voice was quite untrained but it was pleasant to listen to.
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