“Where's the servant whose business it is to answer the door?"

I just read this in Through the Looking Glass. If I said that sentence, I would have said "business is". Why is the 'it' necessary? Is this because this book is 200-years old? Can one still say like that?

1 Answer 1


Without "it", the meaning is that the servant has a door-opening enterprise, instead of meaning that one of the servant's responsibilities is to open the door. I see no change in how this is expressed since Carroll's time.

  • 1
    Well, I think one would be more likely to say "... whose job it is ..." today.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 17:34
  • I can memorise this, but I do not understand it. Could you explain why putting 'it' makes that difference? Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 20:48
  • With the hint from the first comment, I have found a similar question already has been answered. english.stackexchange.com/questions/35759/… Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 20:56
  • @HotLicks I think a lot of people would still say 'business' nowadays. It probably derives from the expressions mind your own business, is it any of your business? etc. They perpetuate a particular sense of the word business which is probably being invoked in this OP example.
    – WS2
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 21:08

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