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)

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