Use of Pronoun It - Use of Pronouns in English - English Grammar Self Study

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In this lesson, we will see how to use ‘It’ correctly.


Eva: Hello, today’s lesson will help you understand what a pronoun is and focus on the usage of ‘It’.

Estelle: Pronouns are used to replace a person’s name or a thing’s name, right?

Eva: That’s absolutely right! We are going to see about ‘It’ in specific. ‘It’ is used to replace a non-living thing’s name in singular form although it is also used to denote animals.

Estelle: But, I have heard my friend use ‘she’ when she is talking about her dog!

Eva: Your friend is not wrong, Eva. It is common practice to address animals using animate pronouns such as ‘He’ and ‘She’ even though ‘it’ is accepted better by grammarians. Animal lovers often don’t like the use of ‘it’ though.

Estelle: Oh, I get it. It’s all about people’s choices. Usually I use ‘it’ when I refer to animals, but I don’t mind if people use ‘he’ or ‘she’. It’s their choice.

Eva: You’ve caught the point! Babies are also referred to as ‘it’, when you don’t know the gender. You can ask “Is it a boy or a girl?” for the first time when you don’t know the gender but afterwards, you should not use ‘It’ to address a baby.

Estelle: Why is that?

Eva: Because babies are people! If you use ‘It’, it is considered demeaning.

Estelle: I see. I wouldn’t want someone addressing me as ‘It’ instead of ‘she’. ‘It’ is used when there is no gender or at least when the gender is still unknown.

Eva: Exactly! So ‘It’ is most widely used when you denote a non-living object. For example: It is my favorite sweater.

Estelle: Okay, I will give an example. My train is late, I hope it is not cancelled.

Eva: That’s a great example. But can you tell me why you shouldn’t say “My train is late, I hope my train is not cancelled.”

Estelle: Yes, that is the point of the pronoun ‘It’. It is used to replace repetitive references to the thing I am talking about.

Eva: Great answer, Estelle! It is very difficult to use the thing’s name again and again in a conversation.

Estelle: What does ‘It’ mean in sentences like “It rained heavily yesterday.”

Eva: Good question. It is used as a dummy pronoun in such cases. There is nothing to refer to in specific but we need ‘It’ to form a correct sentence.

Estelle: Yes, it seems obvious now. See, even in my reply ‘It’ is a dummy pronoun.

Eva: Perfect! Now let’s see some sample conversations.

Baby Boy!

Mary: Hey Carla, was it a boy or a girl for Susan?

Carla: It is a boy.

Mary: That’s awesome! Who does he look like?

Carla: He has Susan’s eyes. He is so cute.

Lost Cat.

Masha: Hey Sam! Whose cat is this?

Sam: I don’t know. The poor thing was roaming on the streets.

Masha: Out in the cold? Oh, God! It’s shivering.

Sam: Yes, I am gonna feed it some warm milk and make a bed for it to curl on.

Engine Trouble.

Jamie: Can I borrow your car?

Judy: Sure. It is in the garage. What happened to yours?

Jamie: I can’t start it. I think the engine has some problem.

Judy: I’ve been telling you to change it for months.

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