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English definition of “it”


pronoun (SUBJECT/OBJECT)    /ɪt/
A1 used as the subject or object of a verb to represent a phrase at the end of the sentence: It's unlikely that she'll arrive on time. It costs more if you travel before 9.00. I liked it in Scotland. I find it convenient to be able to do my banking by phone. Grammar:Dummy subjectsEnglish clauses which are not imperatives must have a subject. Sometimes we need to use a ‘dummy’ or ‘empty’ or ‘artificial’ subject when there is no subject attached to the verb, and where the real subject is somewhere else in the clause. It and there are the two dummy subjects used in English:See moreGrammar:It as a dummy subjectWe often use it as a dummy subject with adjectives and their complements:See moreGrammar:There as a dummy subjectThere operates as a dummy subject in the construction there is or there are. There is/are indicates that something or someone exists or is in a particular place or situation:See moreGrammar:ItWe commonly use the pronoun it as both a subject and an object pronoun:See moreGrammar:It as an ‘empty’ or ‘dummy’ subject and objectWe can use it as an ‘empty’ subject or as an ‘empty’ object. It is ‘empty’ because it doesn’t refer to anything in particular:See moreGrammar:Anticipatory itWe also use it to introduce or ‘anticipate’ the subject or object of a sentence, especially when the subject or object of the sentence is a clause. Most commonly, such clauses are to + infinitive and that clauses. We also call this use of it a ‘dummy’ subject, since the real subject is another part of the sentence (real subject underlined):See moreGrammar:I find it amazing thatWith verbs such as find or consider, it + adjective + that clause or it + adjective + to infinitive, are commonly used to anticipate an object:See moreGrammar:It and cleft sentences (It was my friend who …)We use it in cleft sentences. It emphasises the subject or object of the main clause:See moreGrammar:It with the passive voiceIt is common with the passive voice. It makes the sentence seem less personal and more objective:See moreGrammar:It, this and that in paragraphsWe use it, this and that to introduce further information about a topic already mentioned. However, the words have different uses.See moreGrammar:It’s or its?It’s is the contracted form of it is or it has:See moreGrammar:Pronouns: personal (I, me, you, him, it, they, etc.)We use personal pronouns in place of noun phrases. We often use them to refer back to people and things that we have already identified (underlined):See moreGrammar:Subject and object pronounsPersonal subject pronouns act as the subject of a clause. We use them before a verb to show who is doing the verb. We do not usually leave out the pronoun:See moreGrammar:I, meWe use I and me to refer to the speaker or writer. I is the subject form and me is the object form:See moreGrammar:YouWe use you to refer to the listener or reader. It is both the subject and the object form. You can refer to one person or more than one person. It is usually clear from the context whether you is singular or plural:See moreGrammar:He, him; she, herHe, him, she and her are singular third person pronouns. He and him are the masculine forms. She and her are the feminine forms:See moreGrammar:ItWe use it to refer to things:See moreGrammar:We, usWe use we and us to refer to different groups of people, but always including the speaker. We and us can refer to the speaker + the listener, or the speaker + other people but not the listener, or people in general including the speaker:See moreGrammar:They, themWe use they and them to refer to specific groups of people, things and animals:See moreGrammar:It to create focusWhen we use it at the beginning of a clause, the subject can go at the end of the clause and therefore be in the position of focus or emphasis (underlined):See moreGrammar:There to create focusWe can use there at the start of a clause as a type of indefinite subject. This means that we can put the actual subject at the end of the clause and so give it emphasis or focus (underlined below):See moreGrammar:Noun forms of verbs to create focusIn formal writing, especially academic writing, we can use a noun form of a verb as a subject. By doing this, extra focus is given to the end of the clause. Noun phrase subjects (topics) are in bold type below; the focus of each sentence is underlined:See more
(Definition of it pronoun (SUBJECT/OBJECT) from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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