Grammatical pattern: it + VERB + somebody + INFINITIVE

example: It PLEASES me to announce the winners today.
It SHOCKED them to hear such horrifying news.
It AMAZED her mother to see how much progress she’d made.
  it VERB somebody INFINITIVE  

This pattern is used to express someone’s feeling about something that happens, has happened, or is about to happen.   In this pattern, the word “it” is the grammatical subject of the sentence although it has no real meaning. The action or condition expressed in the infinitive in these types of sentences is, in fact, what causes the emotion in the verb (the feeling of amazement, pleasure, embarrassment, or the like). In the above example, it is the announcing of the winners, which the person speaking is about to do, that is the cause of the pleasure.  Therefore, the infinitive phrase “to announce the winners today”  is the notional subject of the sentence.

It is also possible to begin sentences with an infinitive phrase as the subject of the sentence.  One could say “To announce the winners today pleases me,” for example, and the essential meaning would be the same as “It pleases me to announce the winners.”  However, the tone would be more formal with the infinitive coming first, especially in a sentence such as this where the verb element of the sentence is quite short.  This alternative sentence, with its long subject (“To announce the winners”) and short predicate (“pleases me”), can feel unbalanced to English speakers.  Using “it” as the subject of the sentence allows the longer “real” subject to be placed at the end of the construction where a longer element feels more natural.


Verbs that follow the pattern [it  + VERB  +  somebody + INFINITIVE]

amaze, annoy, bother, bug, disturb, shock, please, surprise, embarrass, delight


Additional examples of the pattern [it  +  VERB  +  somebody + INFINITIVE]

It amazed me to see how strong my sister had become since her operation.

It disturbed him to hear that his old friend had been arrested.

It delights her to be able to see her daughter more frequently now.

It shocked them to find out that all their father’s money had been spent.




All grammatical patterns