1)The climate of Busan is milder than that of Seoul

2)The climate of Busan is milder than it of Seoul

I know that #1 is right. But I wonder why we don't use a demonstrative pronoun "it", a pronoun which usually refers to something already mentioned in a sentence or piece of text.

  • We do not use the pronoun "that" here. We use the determiner "that" here. And that's because we have to use a determiner there, not a pronoun. "It" is only a pronoun, and cannot be used as a determiner. – RegDwigнt Sep 8 '15 at 11:46
  • Maybe give this page a read. – candied_orange Sep 8 '15 at 12:21
  • Aaargh. Sorry @CandiedOrange, I meant Reg! – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 8 '15 at 12:53
  • @CandiedOrange Although I have some sympathy with RD's analysis, ICE doesn't agree with him - at all. They say, very clearly, "As this table shows, determiners always come before a noun, but pronouns are more independent than this. They function in much the same way as nouns, and they can be replaced by nouns in the sentences above" – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 8 '15 at 12:59
  • @CandiedOrange I'm waiting on ternterhooks! – Araucaria - Not here any more. Sep 8 '15 at 13:05

Contrary to the common belief, a pronoun can replace a whole noun phrase, instead of a noun.

And that is why the following phrase is incorrect -

A new shirt (a noun phrase, with shirt it's head) -> A new it (Incorrect)

In your sentence we need something to replace the climate in the climate of Seoul. The noun phrase is the climate of Seoul. We can use a pronoun to replace the total noun phrase, but not a noun inside a noun phrase. So to solve this problem we need to use another class of words. We call them Pro-form.

The word that can be used as a Pro-form here, but the word it can't. That's why it's incorrect to say - it of Seoul.

The only correct version is that of Seoul.

The climate of Busan is milder than that of Seoul

  • Just a note that some people classify the normal pronouns as a subtype of pro-forms (e.g. the Wikipedia entry on pro-forms). By doing this, though, they lose out on the distinction made by @Man_From_India between those (like 'that') that can be used sub-phrasally and those which cannot (like the normal pronoun 'it'). – GoldenGremlin Sep 9 '15 at 16:10
  • @Silenus There is no doubt that they do. A noun phrase can have more than one word, or just a single word. If they are the single word, it's none other than the head noun. In these cases both Pro-form and pronoun are the same. Pro-form is not restricted to nouns only, they can replace other class of words too. – Man_From_India Sep 9 '15 at 16:16
  • Hi @Man_From_India, I wasn't disagreeing with anything you said in your post. Only pointing out that you seem to suggest that pronouns are not pro-forms (which runs against some syntactic classifications, like the one on Wikipedia). I guess the problem is with your sentence: "The word 'that' can be used as a Pro-form, but the word 'it' can't." If I understand how you're using "pro-form", you might consider changing it to "The word 'that' can be used as a pro-form HERE, but the word 'it' can't." – GoldenGremlin Sep 9 '15 at 16:21
  • @Silenus Oh thanks :-) I will edit my answer for more clarity. I didn't mean to say that pronouns are not pro-forms. I will edit it. – Man_From_India Sep 9 '15 at 16:23
  • @Man_From_India But how about "We of the National Union of Teachers do not believe that ...", for example? – Araucaria - Not here any more. May 8 '16 at 19:22

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