I really don't know about this it in the sentence:

[…] I didn't know why I resented it so intensely to have them think of me as something newly minted, but it was – I am certain – echoes of that idea that had been sounding […]

1) To me the first and the second it refer to: have them think of me as something newly minted

2) However, when I replace it with this or that it doesn't seem to refer to anything.

Kindly, is there another manipulation to make sure of it?

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    Doesn't the second "it" refer to "echoes"? Nov 22, 2017 at 9:52
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    In "it was . . . echoes of that idea", the "it" refers to "echoes", and "that idea" refers to "think of me as something newly minted". But as my deleted comment said, the whole sentence seems to be poorly written. Nov 22, 2017 at 10:03
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    The first sentence is an Extraposition from NP construction, while the second is an It-Cleft. Both use dummy it's, but different ones, in different contexts. The problem is using them both together like this. Nov 22, 2017 at 21:40
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    No, we don't talk of them as being referential. They don't have to be, any more than there has to be locative in There is a man here to see you. They're features of the construction, nothing more. Nov 23, 2017 at 0:11
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    I'm sorry, I don't understand either question. Both dummy it's are related only to the particular construction they're in. Nov 23, 2017 at 15:52

2 Answers 2


In both instances, "it" is an expletive pronoun, sometimes referred to as a dummy pronoun. There is no explicit meaning in either case, no antecedent. Rather, the word is used to fulfill the syntactical requirements of the sentence.



An expletive pronoun would specifically be written, I didn't know why I resented it! [explanation sentence to ensue].

The dummy pronoun in this instance allows the writer to avoid awkward construction: "I didn't know why I resented having them think of me as something newly minted so intensely, but it was…"

  • I don't think you mean "expletive" here? Jul 18, 2018 at 8:11

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