find it hard/difficult to do something

I find it strange that one has to use the pronoun it in sentences like

I find it very difficult to do this.

I would like to know the grammatical reason (if there is one) for this, if it has name, and how bad it is if you omit it.

Comments

  • DavidCrosbieDavidCrosbie ✭✭✭

    @AliNateghi, the verb find is always TRANSITIVE — it must have a DIRECT OBJECT. An ADJECTIVE PHRASE like very difficult cannot function as an OBJECT.

    Now, it's possible to construct a sentence in which very difficult functions as an explanation of the OBJECT. The term I prefer is OBJECT COMPLMENT but not all grammar books agree. Here's an example

    SUBJECT..VERB.......OBJECT COMPLEMENT....... OBJECT
    I ..............do find.....very difficult ............................the fact that you never asked my opinion.

    As I said, this construction is possible, but it is unusual. I think most English-speakers would prefer

    I do find it very difficult that you never asked my opinion.

    Your sentence can't be analysed as OBJECT COMPLEMENT + OBJECT for two reasons

    1. Find is not a verb that can take an INFINITIVE like to do as an object.
    2. Difficult to do this is is a phrase that can't be split and divided between two other phrases. To do this tells us in what way something is difficult.

    The name for it in the sentence is OBJECT or DIRECT OBJECT. If you prefer, you can call it a dummy object.

    Another technical term that some grammars use is extraposition.
    A simple sentence To do this is difficult can be changed by extraposition to It's difficult to do this.
    And Doing this is difficult can be changed by extraposition to It's difficult doing this.

    But starting with I find makes the sentences much less simple. It depends on the type of clause.

    • Extraposition is possible with an -ing clause:
      I find it difficult doing this or I find doing this difficult

    • With a to-INFINITIVE clause, extraposition is necessary
      I find it difficult to do this but NOT I find to do this difficult

    In answer to your other question,
    I find very difficult to do this is not English.
    People may well understand what you mean, but it's totally ungrammatical.

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