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Is it okay to say something like this?

The reason why we pick him lies in it that he is obviously more promising than other applicants

The part I am not sure is the boldfaced part. And I know that, instead of the boldfaced words, I can simply say

The reason why we pick him is that he is obviously more promising than other applicants

The sentence merely functions as an example of the usage of "it that".

  • We have chosen him over the other applicants in that he is obviously more promising than they are. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 23 '15 at 10:15
  • Replace "it" by "the fact", and you have a grammatical sentence. It is quite common nowadays for "the fact" to be put into English sentences in order to make the grammar work (kind of like a forward-looking pronoun). But "it" can't be used here because there's no previous reference that "it" refers back to. – Peter Shor Jun 23 '15 at 11:44
  • @PeterShor: Thank you. But does not "it" refer forwardly in the sentence""We make it clear why the concept is to be clarified"? – Megadeth Jun 23 '15 at 12:05
  • @Chou: you're right ... it works there. I can't tell what the difference is without thinking about it for a while. – Peter Shor Jun 23 '15 at 12:08
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What you're looking for is something like a forward-looking pronoun. Other languages may use their equivalent of "it" for this, but what is used in English is often "the fact".

The reason we are picking him lies in the fact that he is obviously more promising than other applicants.

Other grammar corrections – I eliminated "the reason why" because it's considered poor wording due to redundancy, and "pick" should either be "are picking" or "picked" because of the way the tenses work in English.

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I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but many grammatical locutions are not "okay" to native speakers. For instance, you have three present-tense verbs -- "pick," "lies," and "is (promising)." This will sound strange to native ears because you're explaining what is most likely a completed event. You've picked him, past tense. But your version isn't strictly speaking ungrammatical. The other two verbs are fine in the present tense as they represent an enduring or ongoing situation: your reason continues after your selection and so does the applicant's promise into at least the near future.

The phrase "in it that" won't work because there's no reasonable antecedent for "it."

English has a conjunction for people who feel the need to explain things -- "because." Try this:

"We picked him because he is obviously more promising than other applicants."

This version not only sounds natural, it has the benefit of using only two-thirds of the number of words in the original to make the same point.

  • Thank you for bringing out what is true. I have an additional question: Can "it" refer to the clause "that he is promising ...". – Megadeth Jun 23 '15 at 8:35
  • I consider it possible because of the usage of "it" in a sentence, say "We make it clear why the concept is to be clarified". I think the "it" here refers to the clause "why the concept ..."? – Megadeth Jun 23 '15 at 8:38
  • @Chou: Deadrat's suggestions about choosing the proper tense and using "because" are sound. Why do I say this? I say it, that you may understand better. I think you may be thinking of "in that". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 23 '15 at 10:09
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My judgement (as a non-native speaker):

a) We pick(ed) him because he is obviously more promising than other applicants.

This is good for all occasions. Use this unless you have a good reason to do otherwise.

b) The reason why we pick(ed) him is that he is obviously more promising than other applicants.

You want to emphasize the reason. You prepare the listener/reader for what comes next (your reason) with The reason why and then state the reason. This is a good sentence. However, if you always say or write b) and never a), you may risk giving an impression that you can't control the register of your language very well.

c) The reason (that) we pick(ed) him is that he is obviously more promising than other applicants.

This is similar to b), but you elevate the language a little.

d) The reason (why/that) we pick(ed) him lies in that he is obviously more promising than other applicants.

This is similar to b) and c), but a reader such as myself will think that you try to raise the level of the language even further, and thus it will sound a little stilted. Also, I believe that either The reason that we pick(ed) him ... or The reason we pick(ed) him ... sounds a little better than The reason why we pick(ed) him ....

e) The reason (why/that) we pick(ed) him lies in it that he is obviously more promising than other applicants.

This is almost like d), but it sounds wrong. One could argue that it's grammatical, but it's probably as good as I'd like to introduce you to him that is standing by me. One problem is that it is redundant, and because this sentence uses elevated language, this it makes it sound clunkier than d). You can repair this sentence by replacing it with a noun, such as the fact, the idea, the belief, the assumption, the assertion, and such. (The fact is the best choice, in my opinion.)

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