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I'm working on a mobile game, and I was wondering about the best way to say the quote below:

You see that shiny ball full of colors? Try forming this shape using that. That will match any virus!

One of my co-workers said it might be best to use it instead of that in one of the sentences, to make it less repetitive.

I was wondering what would be the best place to change it, in terms of grammaticality.

  1. You see that shiny ball full of colors?
    Try forming this shape using it.
    That will match any virus!

  2. You see that shiny ball full of colors?
    Try forming this shape using that.
    It will match any virus!

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Strctly speaking, in terms of grammaticality, I notice there is no "Do" in the question; for the rest, I prefer the 2 version, possibly with a semicolon to separate the last two sentences. But it is a matter of style, rather than grammar. –  user19148 Oct 15 '12 at 15:27
I'm not a UX expert (though there's an SE for that), but switching between it, this, and that confuses me (I am but a child and this game sounds like it's for children). I agree with StoneyB's assessment. Perhaps even using the ball or the shape, where applicable, would be most effective. In the third sentence, what is it or that – the ball or the shape (or does it matter)? –  Zairja Oct 15 '12 at 16:06
@Zairja It seems obvious to me (albeit inferentially) that the final pronoun refers to the new shape formed using the ball of colours. –  StoneyB Oct 15 '12 at 16:36
@StoneyB, im sorry if i didnt make myself clear enougth, it is just that English is not my first language. But in the case of the final pronoun, it does refer to the ball. The whole idea is to make the player understand, that he can use the ball as a "joker" to form any shape. –  BernardGra Oct 15 '12 at 16:55
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1 Answer

Variation for the sake of variation is no virtue. Repetition for the sake of clarity is no vice.

“Elegant variation” is deprecated by most advisors on style. You cannot go wrong by using the same word for the same thing every time, but you can confuse the reader by using different words for the same thing.

On the other hand, using the same word for different things can also confuse the reader.

In your example, the first two thats refer to the same thing, the shiny ball. So there's no confusion. Moreover, the alternation thatthisthat is smooth and clear.

A question does arise in your final sentence, where that refers to something new: the shape formed using the ball. Moving to it is one solution; but I like staying with pattern of demonstratives, so you can build the entire passage climactically.

What you need to do is distinguish this that from the earlier thats. Ordinary typographic emphasis would do the trick for me:

You see that shiny ball full of colors?
Try forming this shape using that.
That will match any virus!

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I understand what you mean about the typographic emphasis, but on that matter, I dont have the freedom to do it. And the two Thats (i dont know how to say That in plural, even if that exists), sound wierd so close to each other. From what i understand there is no difference between using it one place or the other? –  BernardGra Oct 15 '12 at 17:02
Well, formally, the first that is a demonstrative adjective, and the second and third are demonstrative pronouns. But I think consistency of reference is the important thing. –  StoneyB Oct 15 '12 at 17:12
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