If it wasn't for Amber he wouldn't be able to marry Claire.

Please, what does "it" in this sentence refer to?

  • 2
    It doesn't refer at all. It is a dummy subject. – Colin Fine Jan 8 at 0:06

The pronoun "it" refers to the actions of Amber. Some linguists would call that a dummy pronoun. Informally it can be unrolled like this:

If it wasn't = If it was not = Without

...and means much the same as:

Without Amber he wouldn't be able to marry Claire.

But "if it wasn't" is a shade different, in that it gives more emphasis to chance, rather than just stating a logical necessity. Example:

Without eggs we can't make meringue. (necessity)


If it wasn't for pick-pockets I'd have no sex life at all. - Rodney Dangerfield (chance)

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.