mercredi 26 novembre 2014

Top Tips Grammar: Impersonal subject ‘it’

Main points

*You use impersonal ‘it’ as the subject of a sentence to introduce new information.
*You use ‘it’ to talk about the time or the date.
*You use ‘it’ to talk about the weather.
*You use ‘it’ to express opinions about places, situations, and events.
*‘It’ is often used with the passive of reporting verbs to express general beliefs and options.


a) ‘It’ is a pronoun. As a personal pronoun it refers back to something that has already been mentioned.

- They learn to speak English before they learn to read it.
- Maybe he changed his mind, but I doubt it.

You can also use ‘it’ as the subject of a sentences when it does not refer back to anything that has already been mentioned. This impersonal use of ‘it’ introduces new information, and is used particularly to talk about times, dates, the weather, and personal opinions.


b) You use impersonal ‘it’ with a form of ‘be’ to talk about the time or the date.

- It is nearly one o’clock.
- It’s the sixth of April today.


c) You use impersonal ‘it’ with verbs which refer to the weather:

anybody everybody nobody somebody
anyone everyone no one someone
anything everything nothing something

- It’s still raining.
- It snowed steadily through the night.
- It was pouring with rain.

You can describe the weather by using ‘it’ followed by ‘be’ and an adjective with or without a noun.

- It’s a lovely day.
- It was very bright.

You can describe a change in the weather by using ‘it’ followed by ‘get’ and an adjectives.

- It was getting cold.
- It’s getting dark.


d) You use impersonal ‘it’, followed by a form of ‘be’ and adjective or noun group, to express your opinion about a place, a situation, or an event. The adjective or noun group can be followed by an adverbial or by an ‘-ing’ clause, a ‘to’- infinitive clause, or a ‘that’ – clause.

- It was terribly cold in the trucks.
- It’s fun working for him.
- It was a pleasure to be there.
- It’s strange that it hasn’t been noticed before.


e) You use ‘it’ followed by a verb such as ‘interest’, ‘please’, ‘surprise’, or ‘upset’ which indicates someone’s reaction to a fact, situation, or event. The verb is followed b a noun group, and a ‘that’- clause or a ‘to’- infinitive clause.

- It please me that he should want to talk about his work.
- It surprised him to realize that he hadn’t thought about them until now.


f) You can also use ‘it’ with the passive of a reporting verb and a ‘that’- clause when you want to suggest that an opinion or belief is shared by many people. This use is particularly common in news reports for example in newspapers, on the radio, or the television.

- It was said that he could speak their language.              
- Nowadays it is believed that the size is unimportant.
- It is thought that about a million puppies are born each year.

Note that the passive of reporting verbs can also be used without impersonal ‘it’ to express general opinions.

- The factories were said to be much worse.
- They are believed to be dangerous.





Top Tips Abz Ingles: Part A    -    Part B


See also:

Words related to Failure to Cooperate Irregular Verbs list
Common Phrasal Verbs Common Slangs
Common misspellings Regular vs Irregular Verbs
Common Errors Frequently confused words
Common Slangs Lista de Términos Gramaticales
Common Clichés Common Prepositions


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