A certain Andy Tompson, who insists that he is a native English speaker (which we can't really know), gave this example, "It's you I need to fix this" as an active to the passive "I need this to be fixed by you" among other sentences, which are: "You need to fix this" and "It's you who needs to fix this".

Now this is odd, because to me, "It's you I need to fix this" reads like two separate phrases: "It's you" and "I need to fix this".

The other two I find correct.

Is the option "It's you I need to fix this" correct?

  • 2
    If you insert the optional conjuction "that" between "you" and "I", to link the clauses, would that help?
    – James K
    Oct 24 '17 at 8:26
  • 2
    "It's you I need (to fix this)" is a perfectly normal if slightly less common re-ordering of the sentence. For example, there's a song called "It's You I Need" and a movie called "It's You I Want". Think of it as a way to emphasize the you of the statement - it's not just that I need it fixed, it's you that I need to fix it.
    – stangdon
    Oct 24 '17 at 12:34
  • @JamesK That still sounds ratherly oddie. Well, on the other hand if I place "whom" it seems to work. Oct 24 '17 at 16:48

Thinking about this a little more, I think this is a case of a reduced relative clause or whiz-deletion. Consider these sentences:

This is a photograph that I took earlier.
This is a photograph * I took earlier.

"It's you I need to fix this" is almost exactly the same structure.

In English, we can optionally leave out a relativizer like who or which or that when it introduces a relative clause that defines the subject. So just like we can turn "This is a photograph that I..." into "This is a photograph I...", we can turn "It is you that/who I need". "To fix this" just defines the purpose for which I need you.

It's definitely a less common way to phrase the sentence, at least in US English. The more common way would be "I need you to fix this", but the "reversed" phrasing emphasizes that "you" are the subject, not "I", just like "This is a photograph that I took earlier" emphasizes something slightly different from "I took this photograph earlier."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.