"who is it who says that?"

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Itikar
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"who is it who says that?"

Postby Itikar » Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:55 pm

Thank you for your kind words Peter. :D

Yesterday evening I started to read a book in English. I chose the classic "the Picture of Dorian Gray" because I like the style of those books.
However I came across a construction which was not very clear to me. So I would like to ask you and Joe about it. Here is the sentence:
“A dream of form in days of thought'--who is it who says that?„
What is the function of that "it" in this question? And whom or which does it point to?
If it pointed to a person, why then has the pronoun "he" not be used?

I look forward to reading your comments. :)
I would be very grateful, if you could please correct my English.

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Peter
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Re: "who is it who says that?"

Postby Peter » Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:30 pm

Itikar wrote:Thank you for your kind words Peter.


Non c'è di che, Alessandro. È un piacere. :)

Itikar wrote:Yesterday evening I started to read a book in English. I chose the classic "the Picture of Dorian Gray" because I like the style of those books.
However I came across a construction which was not very clear to me. So I would like to ask you and Joe about it. Here is the sentence:
“A dream of form in days of thought'--who is it who says that?„
What is the function of that "it" in this question? And whom or which does it point to?
If it pointed to a person, why then has the pronoun "he" not be used?

I look forward to reading your comments. :)


Usiamo it spesso a referire a una persona quando non c'è nessun indicazione se sia maschile o feminine. Prendiamo l'esempio "Who is it at the door?". Non lo sappiamo fino a quando apriamo la porta! Quindi non possiamo dire he o she. Effettivamente potremmo usare anche that nel esempio. Non ho letto il libro - Oscar Wilde non è esattamente la mia tassa di té! :) - peró mi chiedo se questa questione sia retorica. Se sia il caso, poi si userebbe it, perché ancora (in inglese, in ogni caso) non è possibile usare he o she, finché non ci sia stato un riferimento precedente a una persona a cui la parola it potrebbe applicare.

Spero che tutto questo abbia senso!! :)
A presto


Peter

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Itikar
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Re: "who is it who says that?"

Postby Itikar » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:11 pm

Ha assolutamente senso! :)
Ti ringrazio molto per l'interessante chiarificazione. Non sapevo di questa regola.

In Italian generally, when we don't know whose gender the subject is, we try to drop it and to use the verb alone if possibile. I.e. in this case it would have been 'Chi è che l'ha detto?' or 'Chi l'ha detto?'
If we are forced to specify, for example with an agreed past participle, we use the masculine form, except if it is clear that the subject can only be feminine. i.e. 'Chi è stato?'
'Chi è stata?' could be used only in contexts like for instance a parent speaking to his daughters.
I would be very grateful, if you could please correct my English.


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