I was wondering if the use of "it" is ambiguous in the following sentence:

"The XYZ is an excellent book, and it was later made into a movie."

The use of it refers to the book/XYZ vice versa. Is that allowed (pronoun referring to a noun that refers to another Noun) or which of the following would be the best option to use:

  1. The XYZ is an excellent book, which was later made into a movie.
  2. The XYZ is an excellent book that was later made into a movie.

And if "it" usage is correct grammatically, which one of the three (it, which, that) is the best option?


  • 2
    I fail to see what could be confusing about the original sentence, since "is" implies an identity between the two options.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 2, 2019 at 22:50
  • grammarly.com › blog › which-vs-that
    – NeilB
    Nov 2, 2019 at 22:56
  • IT itself is a pronoun, and of course, a pronoun can stand in place of a noun. Re: WHICH and THAT, both are relative pronouns.
    – Ram Pillai
    Nov 3, 2019 at 11:18

1 Answer 1


It depends on the clause:

Use THAT for a defining clause: A defining clause (also called an essential clause or a restrictive clause) gives information essential to the meaning of the sentence.

Use WHICH to introduce a non-defining clause. Unlike defining clauses, non-defining clauses (also called nonessential or nonrestrictive clauses) don’t limit the meaning of the sentence and can be considered 'disposable'; you might lose some interesting details if you remove them, but the meaning of the sentence wouldn’t change.

Strictly speaking, your example is probably a WHICH, noting your correct use of the comma with "which" and its omission with "that".

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