[Ads-l] It were

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Sep 25 02:11:55 UTC 2015

> On Sep 24, 2015, at 8:48 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 6:34 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> "It *were* Clinton supporters behind it, though not Clinton or her
>> campaign."
> So, is the point the use of _it_ instead of _there_ or the use of _were_
> instead of _was_?

Both.  If "it" is functioning the way "there" is (or the way "es" is in German), it will agree with the noun phrase it stands in for, which in the case of a plural noun phrase will result in "it were".  

Of course "there" doesn't always function that way itself, or I wouldn't be able to say things like "There's Clinton supporters behind it, aren't there?", but only with "there's" in contracted form (*There is Clinton supporters behind it" is impossible for me).   

For the record, I'm not familiar with speakers who say (or write) sentences beginning with "It were" or "It are", I'm just trying to understand why someone might.   

> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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