1a) It's up to you whether you actually leave.

2a) It's up to you which path you take.

3a) *? It's up to you for whom the bell tolls.

4a) * It's up to you the path you choose.

Why does it (maybe) seem okay to let "it" refer to [+wh] phrases, but not for [–wh] phrases, as in (4a)?

One also feels as though there might secretly be an omitted "as to" in there:

1b) It's up to you as to whether you actually leave.

2b) It's up to you as to which path you take.

3b) *? It's up to you as to for whom the bell tolls.

4b) It's up to you as to the path you choose.

all of which are now (maybe) fine. So, what is the function and form of "as to" here? Is it the same as in phrases like

5) I'm feeling a bit unsure as to whether this is even part of the same question, but I feel like the answers might be related.

(I'm not a full-fledged linguistics person, so feel free to simply point me in the direction of a resource that might help if this is too general a question!)

  • Why did you assume that ungrammaticality of (3a) has something to do with the expletive?
    – Tsutsu
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 12:09
  • That's a dummy it, not a referential one, so it doesn't refer to anything. The dummy is inserted by the syntactic process of Extraposition, which moves (certain kinds of) heavy subject constituent of certain predicates to the end of the sentence, and inserts it to take their place. As to is just the relational preposition attached to the idiomatic predicate be up to X. It would be strange with different verbs: It's amazing (*as to) what she did with the lasagna.
    – jlawler
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 15:20


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.