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  1. Tom is hard (for us) to convince.

  2. It's hard (for us) to convince Tom.

  1. The location is hard to find on the map.

  2. It's hard to find the location on the map.

In above examples, #2 and #4 can be interpreted as extraposition, but #1 or # 3 can't.

So, in what construction are these two sentences- # 1 and/or #3?

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  • 2. and 4. are extraposed constructions with dummy "it" as subject and the infinitival clauses appearing at the end of the matrix clauses. But 1. and 3. are simply basic declarative clauses, alternants to To convince Tom is hard and To find the location on the map is hard.
    – BillJ
    Sep 17, 2022 at 16:58

1 Answer 1

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All four of your example sentences are valid. However, I'm not sure they include the non-extraposed versions of the sentence.

Extraposition is when you have a clause that's the subject of a sentence and you move it to the end of the sentence, often replacing the subject with it or it's.

For example, if you have a sentence with an infinitive clause as the subject:

To convince Tom is hard.

You would often extrapose it:

It's hard to convince Tom.

I'm not sure if this version is considered extraposed (I'm sure someone will comment and I'll revise this part of the answer):

Tom is hard to convince.

In your second example, I think the non-extraposed version would be something like:

To find the location on the map is hard.

The extraposed version is:

It's hard to find the location on the map.

I don't think this version is considered extraposed:

The location is hard to find on the map.

Extraposition is more apparent when you have a longer clause that's the subject of a sentence. For example, both of these are valid, but the extraposed version is the one to use.

That they would ever choose her for prom queen is unbelievable.

It's unbelievable that they would ever choose her for prom queen.

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    I suppose at some point it becomes futile to assign labels to every possible way of rearranging the elements in an English utterance. Sure - the entirety of to convince Tom is the "subject" of is hard, and that subject can "extraposed" to the end of the utterance, to be replaced by pronoun it as the "syntactic" subject at the start of the utterance. But Tom is hard to convince is a bit more complicated, because the "embedded" subject (of the secondary verb convince) is Tom, which has been separated from its verb by the main verb (is). Sep 17, 2022 at 16:14
  • ...we could call it partial extraposition. But would knowing such a label be any use to someone wanting to learn English? I kinda doubt it. Sep 17, 2022 at 16:28
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    Finding the location on the map is hard is just an alternant to The location is hard to find on the map, both of which are non-extraposed constructions.
    – BillJ
    Sep 17, 2022 at 17:07

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