Community Web Version Now Available
Toyger
Is this true? Is below true? Are "it" and "this/that" interchangeable? Is it ambiguous? ---------- "When more than one thing has been mentioned, it generally refers to the main subject of discussion; this and that generally refer to a new subject that has been introduced (often the last thing mentioned). Compare: - We keep the ice-cream machine in the spare room. It is mainly used by the children, incidentally. (The machine is used by the children.) We keep the ice-cream machine in the spare room. This/That is mainly used by the children, incidentally. (The spare room is used by the children.) - I was carrying the statue to my office when I dropped it on the kitchen table. It was badly damaged. (The statue was damaged.) - I was carrying the statue to my office when I dropped it on the kitchen table. This was badly damaged. (The table was damaged.)"
Aug 30, 2020 4:35 AM
1
0
Answers · 1
It's definitely true-ish, and the examples are neatly worded, if still ambiguous without the eplanatory parentheses. And yes, there is potential for ambiguity, and it's usually necessary to consider the context carefully to be clear about meaning. This problem of clarity of reference for pronouns comes up a lot in English, and is often a source of humour, deliberately or otherwise. I suspect the "rule" is of the writer's own creation - but I don't know that. As to interchangeability: "this" and "that" can introduce new topics, though they can also refer to something already mentioned, and "that" has other functions too. "It" typically refers back to the last-mentioned matching noun, except when it is used as a "dummy subject" I think. https://englishcomposition.org/essential-writing/unclear-pronoun-reference/ https://bethune.yorku.ca/writing/pronoun/ https://www.swarthmore.edu/writing/pronoun-reference-0 https://webapps.towson.edu/ows/proref.htm https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/dummy-subjects
August 30, 2020
Toyger
Language Skills
English, Fur
Learning Language
English