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It is unacceptable to submit an essay from a previous course.

I am having a hard time finding the verb and the subject of this sentence. I searched online. From what I understood the answer should be "essay" "submit" but not sure.

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    Syntactically, the primary subject is the pronoun it, and the primary verb is is. Semantically, it refers to (stands in for) the "compound verb" sequence to submit an essay from a previous course, which could be converted to a noun form as Submitting an essay from a previous course [is unacceptable]. Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 17:44
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    It's an extraposition construction where the subject is the meaningless dummy pronoun "it" and the matrix ('main') verb is "is". The extraposed subject has the verb "submit".
    – BillJ
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 17:48
  • @BillJ thanks, I couldn't remember what this use of "it" was called.
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 17:49
  • What if the sentence was "Another way to think of it is as animals." What would the verb and subject be? Im trying to understand but complex sorry
    – Harout
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 17:52
  • @BillJ: Are you sure about that? In It's raining (a traditional example of "dummy it") it's not easy say what it refers to, but with OP's example it's obvious that the "referent" is actually present, and can work perfectly well without even including the "dummy": To submit an essay from a previous course is unacceptable. Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 17:59

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"Is" is the main verb of the sentence. "It" is the subject.

This is an example of the common "dummy pronoun" structure in English. "It" has no meaning, and is just used as a kind of placeholder in the sentence.

It is good to eat breakfast every morning.

It is smart to check your sources before submitting an answer

It is a bad idea to stick your hand in the lion's cage.

It is unacceptable to forget my birthday.

and so on.

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  • Thanks for the answer. What if the sentence was "Another way to think of it is as animals." What would the verb and subject be? Im trying to understand but complex sorry.
    – Harout
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 17:57
  • @Harout 'Another way to think of it' is the subject. This has been answered by BillJ in the comment under your post. Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 18:56

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