I'm currently working at a private academy in Korea, and my boss just asked me a real head-scratcher.

In the sentence:

It doesn't have to be hot and humid for players to lose too much water from their bodies.

I'm aware that "It" is a subject pronoun replacing "The weather." Besides that, however, I'm unsure.

Is it a false subject? I wouldn't think so since it's a pronoun. Is it some crazy kind of indirect object?

Anyway, thank you all for your help!

  • 1
    This is known as the dummy it, and the weather is its canonical use.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 6:23

2 Answers 2


Yes, it is a subject, specifically a dummy subject, realized through the use of a dummy pronoun. Talking about the weather is the classic example for dummy subjects in English.

From Wikipedia:

A dummy pronoun, also called an expletive pronoun or pleonastic pronoun, is a pronoun used for syntax without adding further meaning. An example is the "it" in "it is raining".

And more specifically:

Weather it

In the phrase It is raining, the verb to rain is usually considered semantically impersonal, even though it appears as syntactically intransitive; in this view, the required it is to be considered a dummy word.


I think the term "false" subject describes it well. In some languages, we can describe the weather with a single word: "hot." English requires a subject, so we say "It is hot." The "it" doesn't really refer to anything, but it is helpful to think of it as referring to the weather.

Note, I used this idiom above. "It is helpful." What is helpful? It! ;)

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