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I wrote in an email:

Il lui coûterait sans doute de l’avouer, mais sa maîtrise de la cuisine japonaise est assez médiore...

I haven’t given it much thought until now, but when « il/cela/ça » serves as the dummy subject referring to the part after « de », I’m not completely sure when to use « il », as opposed to « cela/ça ».

The difference between « cela » and « ça » is about formal vs informal, but how do these two compare with « il »?

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Regarding this matter, @Marc wrote a pretty accurate and complete answer, that you can find here.

To add a little something to his answer, I'd say that both can be used in that case. Ça would be the everyday language version (considering the fact that "Ça" is a shortened version of "Cela", "Ceci") when Il would be a more elegant and impersonal one (regarding that particular case).

  • Hi. I noticed the post myself, but it seems that the dummy subject use of "il" doesn't get a mention there. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Dec 23 '16 at 13:49
  • Oh well. He's kind of addressing it at the end. "« Il » est aussi un pronom impersonnel (absence de sujet réel) utilisé dans de nombreux cas particuliers", at least it looks like it to me. – Shozs Dec 23 '16 at 14:01

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