Can 'it' as a pronoun refer to many different imperative verbs? For instance, in the sentence:

Abide by thy customs, thou excellent one: grind thy corn, drink thy water, praise thy cooking,-- if only it make thee glad!

  • Think of "it" here as meaning whatever you do. – user21497 Jan 27 '13 at 7:29
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    The it here is not referring to all and certainly not any one of the things listed before. The reference is to the action (verb) abide. (How to abide is detailed in the list, which is parenthetical.) – Kris Jan 27 '13 at 7:51

What that it is really referring back to is the single imperative verb that started the whole thing off: Abide. The other imperative verbs are just a list of example customs that you might be abiding by. You can leave them out without changing the meaning of the sentence:

Abide by thy customs, if only it make thee glad!

  • Riggght. Now, I see. So it cannot be used plurally like that? Thanks--now I get it! – user36521 Jan 27 '13 at 6:58

"It' is generally used to describe a single item, I think with the quote, that 'it' refers more to the single act of the customs rather than the three listed items.

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