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For background I work in ESL as an assistant, and I give a native's perspective, but sometimes I doubt myself.

My students have a habit of writing "it is because" to explain why they think something (or, rather, they use it for everything). For example:

"I agree that school uniforms are good. It is because they are easy to wear."

They try to use "it" to refer to why they think this way. To me, this seems off. I checked around and found that most of the time when referring to something for the first time "this" or "that" are normally used, and that they are also used for ideas. I also feel that when you're talking about something personal, like your opinions, you don't use "it."

Would I be able to correct this to "this" and have it make sense grammatically? The other teachers (non-natives) think that "it is because" is fine in this context, but it still feels off to me. I generally try to keep my corrections close to their original work so that they can more easily understand what was wrong which is why I want to know if I should correct this to "this is because." Or, does "it is because" work in this context?

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    This is better, because it refers back to the previous sentence or paragraph. It is a dummy most of the time and either has to be a dummy or has to have some reference. In this case it is not a dummy but its reference is not specified, so this, which does have reference, is grammatical, while using it here simply seems to be a local idiom; it's certainly not formal. The style is too sloppy. – John Lawler Jun 27 at 1:52
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Technically, there's nothing wrong with the construction "It is because..." itself. But in your example, it's not terribly natural. As you suspect, "This is because..." is much more natural as in (1):

(1) I agree that school uniforms are good. This is because they are easy to wear.

Better yet, even delete 'This is' and make them one sentence as in (1'):

(1') I agree that school uniforms are good, because they are easy to wear.

That said, there are times when you'd use "it" instead of "this" as in (2) and (3):

(2) It is because school uniforms are easy to wear that I agree that they are good.

(3) When|If I agree that school uniforms are good, it is because they are easy to wear.

Note that (2) is an it-cleft construction, and that "it" is referring to something in the same sentence in both (2) and (3).

There are other times when you'd use either "it" or "this" as in (4):

(4) A: Why do you agree that school uniforms are good? B: This|It is because they are easy to wear.

Here, you can delete "This|It is" as in (4'):

(4') A: Why do you agree that school uniforms are good? B: Because they are easy to wear.

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