What is a formal subject?



A formal subject, often represented by the pronoun it, plays an essential role in English grammar, particularly in structuring sentences and providing clarity.

We use a formal subject “it” when:



Describing Natural Phenomena:

Example: It is raining.


It is used as a placeholder when describing natural phenomena, especially with verbs like

to rain, to snow, to freeze, etc.

The verb is typically intransitive, and it serves as a subject in such sentences.




Referring to Weather Conditions:


Example: It is sunny today.


It is often used when describing weather conditions, such as sunny, cloudy, rainy, etc.

The subject it introduces the description of the weather condition, and then the predicate provides details about the condition.





Referring to Time and Distance:

Example: It is 3 o’clock. / It is five miles to the city.


It can be used when expressing time, such as It is [specific time].

 It is also used when indicating distance, as in It is [number] miles to [destination].





Passive Voice with Verbs

like It is said, It is believed, It is expected, etc.:


Example: It is said that he will arrive soon.


It is used as a subject in passive constructions when reporting what is said, believed, expected, or known.

The actual subject (he in the example) comes later in the sentence.





Subject Expressed by

Gerund, Infinitive, or Subordinate Clause:


Example: It is essential to study. / It is important that you arrive on time.


It can be used when the subject is expressed by a gerund, an infinitive, or a subordinate clause, and it appears after the predicate.

This is often seen in sentences where the focus is on the importance or necessity of the action.








“It” as a Formal Subject

Subject of a Sentence. Types for definition

Simple Sentence – Unextended and Extended sentences

What is Sentence? Definition of a Sentence

What is Syntax? Syntax in English