It

'It' is a third-person singular pronoun. Here, we will take a close look at its functions and grammatical rules in the English language.

How to Use "It" in the English Grammar

It is a third-person singular pronoun. In this lesson, we will discuss when and how to use it.

1. 'It' as a Subject or Object Pronoun

Use

It as a subject or object pronoun can be used to refer to a previously-mentioned thing, a baby, or a situation that has already been stated.

  • It refers to a thing, an object, an animal that has been mentioned earlier. For example:

This book is mine. It is over there.

'It' is a subject pronoun referring to 'this book.'

I love to read this book. I will buy it later.

'It' is an object pronoun referring to 'this book.'

  • It is used to refer to a baby whose sex is not defined yet. For example:

Have you decided what to name the baby if it is a boy?

'It' refers to 'the baby.' 'It' is a subject pronoun, here.

This is my baby. I don’t feed it yet.

  • It refers to a situation mentioned before. For example:

I have to study hard. If I don’t do it, I will fail.

'It' is an object pronoun referring to the clause 'I have to study hard.'

I have to study hard because it will change my career.

'It' is a subject pronoun referring to the preceding clause.

A : Who's that over there?

B : It's my brother Max.

Position in a Sentence

It as a subject pronoun replaces the subject and as an object pronoun comes after the verb. For example:

The book is over there. It is green.

'It' is a pronoun replacing the subject.

I love it.

'It' is an object pronoun following the verb.

I give it to my mom.

'It' is an object pronoun.

2. 'It' as a Dummy Subject or Object Pronoun

Use

We can use it as a 'dummy' (also called empty) subject or object. It is called 'dummy' because it does not refer to anything in particular. It can be used to emphasize the subject or to talk about the weather, the time, etc. It can also be provisional, used to introduce something, or it can be anticipatory. Look:

  • It only as a dummy subject pronoun can be used to emphasize the subject. In this case, 'it' makes a cleft sentence. For example:

It was Kelly who invited you, not Max.

It is my sister who owns a bakery downtown, not my brother.

  • It only as a dummy subject pronoun is used when you are talking about the weather, the time, the day, the date, the distance, the light, or the temperature. Have a look:

It’s 10:30 a.m.

The time

It's getting late now. We should go.

The time

It's raining outside.

The weather

  • It only as a dummy subject pronoun is provisional. That means it is used when the real subject is a gerund or an infinitive. The provisional it is always followed by an adjective. For example:

It's nice to be here.

This sentence could be 'To be here is nice.' Therefore, 'it' replaces the subject 'to be.'

It's nice living here.

'Living' is a gerund.

  • It only as a dummy subject pronoun is used to introduce or identify someone. For example:

Hello, it is me.

'It' is a dummy pronoun.

  • It is anticipatory. That means 'it' anticipates or introduces something that will come later in a sentence. For example:

I don't like it when you don't talk to me.

I find it extraordinary that she can manage to achieve so many things at her age.

'It' is a dummy object pronoun here.

It was decided that the book would be adapted into a movie.

'That the book... ' is a situation that is introduced by the anticipatory 'it.'

Position in a Sentence

It as a dummy subject pronoun replaces the subject. Remember that the provisional it is followed by an adjective. And, it as a dummy object pronoun comes after the verb. For example:

It was Kelly who invited you, not Max.

'It' is a subject.

It's nice living here.

I don't like it when you don't listen to me.

'It' is an object.

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