Skip to main content Accessibility help

On the syntactic and semantic status of anticipatory it


So-called anticipatory it has been variously classified as a semantically empty prop it, as a referential pronoun, and as a category with an inherently cataphoric function. This article, which is based on a corpus study of actually occurring instances of anticipatory it, examines some of the arguments put forward for each of these classifications and – following Bolinger (1977) – argues for an analysis as ‘definite nominal’ with some referential force which can establish a referential link with a clausal constituent in the immediate context. As such, anticipatory it takes an intermediate position between prop it and referring it, all of which are linked by a scale of gradience specifying their scope of reference (wide vs. narrow). This view of anticipatory it, which allows for both anaphoric and cataphoric reference, can account for all informational types of it-extraposition as well as it-extraposition with complement omission, and provides a possible explanation for cases of it-omission.

Hide All
I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and my colleagues in the department for their helpful comments. Thanks are also due to Aimo Seppänen for a stimulating debate.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

English Language & Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1360-6743
  • EISSN: 1469-4379
  • URL: /core/journals/english-language-and-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed