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30
votes
10answers
8k views

What does “it” refer to in “it's raining”?

I wanted to leave the question title as is so as not to take away from my amusement :). Anyway, It's raining. What is raining? Is it the sky? The clouds? The weather? The rain? What is "it"? ...
3
votes
4answers
650 views

Avoiding “existential it” while referring to a past event?

I know the use of "existential it" is frowned upon, but I'm not entirely sure how to rephrase the following sentence to remove it: It is hard to tell what would have occurred if the battle had ...
25
votes
7answers
2k views

Why “it’s turtles” not “they are turtles”

It is a third person singular and is used to refer to a thing. If that’s the case, then why do we say: A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on ...
46
votes
6answers
6k views

Is “Is it a girl or a boy?” really calling the infant an “it”?

So, my boss comes in, railing that "English is a stupid language!" Since this is pretty much a thrice-weekly occurrence 'round these parts, I barely raised an eyebrow, and waited for him to continue. ...
9
votes
2answers
917 views

Whence the “it” in “I like it here”?

What is the origin of the use of the object (it) in the following sentences, and what is its purpose? I like it here! and Did you like it there? In essence, the things we are saying we ...
1
vote
2answers
21k views

“What day is it today?” vs. “What day is today?”

Which of the following is grammatical? What date/day is it today? What date/day is today?
10
votes
5answers
2k views

“I hate when…” vs “I hate it when…”

Growing up in Australia (and with an English mother) we would say "I hate it when " It seems, based on TV and movies, that in the USA it's more common to say "I hate when " The two phrases mean the ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

“As is customary” vs. “as it is customary”

I more often see the first version being used, but to me, that doesn't sound right because I can't see the subject there. I would definitely use the second one. What am I missing here? Update: ...
3
votes
4answers
296 views

It is an existential question

A question on another site asks, I have a laptop ... Now I am trying to install Windows 7 and it shows a message saying "Driver not found". Whereupon a commenter asks, What is the "it" that shows ...
2
votes
3answers
118 views

The general 'it' [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What does “it” refer to in “it's raining”? Whence the “it” in “I like it here”? What is the grammatical term for ...
2
votes
3answers
4k views

“I would prefer [it] if the meeting [would be/was] postponed”

Because I am still in New Haven, I would prefer [it] if the meeting [would be/was] postponed. What is the correct way of saying this? I am curious as to with or without it, and would be versus ...
1
vote
2answers
750 views

“It’s the height of the season”?

The question is from the transcript of a podcast: Mmmm, blueberries. It’s the height of the season, and I’ve been tossing a handful onto cereal, into pancakes or just straight into my mouth. I ...