Thursday, 14 November 2013

Speakout Advanced p 45. It. Usage


It as a personal pronoun

The basic use of it is as a 3rd person singular personal pronoun, like he / him, she / her, referring to something already mentioned, or which we are just about to mention, or is obvious from the context.
We use it:
  • to talk about an animal, a thing
    - Look at that squirrel; isn't it sweet?
    - Where's the sugar? - I put it in that cupboard.
  • to talk about a baby
    - Isn't it a lovely baby?
  • to talk about an identified situation or fact
    - He's late again. It's very annoying when he does that.
    - I've done it again! I've lost my glasses.
  • We use it rather than he or she when identifying people
- Who's that man over there? - It's Dave Brown; he's our instructor.
- (On the phone) Hello, Darling, it's Pete here.

It as an 'empty' subject to refer to time, dates, weather, distance and the current situation

It's a bit chilly in here.
It's a very peaceful place.
It's thirty kilometres away.
What time is it?

It as introductory / preparatory subject
When a noun clause is the subject, we often prefer not to put this at the beginning. This is especially true when we want to emphasise an adjective. Noun clauses include:
  • to-infinitive clauses
    It's important to hear all sides of the argument.
  • that-clauses
    It's likely that he'll be late.
  • wh-clauses
    It annoys me when he behaves like that.
  • -ing clauses
    It's pointless denying it. I saw you do it!
    It’s no use crying over split milk.
It as introductory / preparatory object
Some verbs are often followed by it + adjective / noun complement + to-infinitive / other type of clause:

People often consider it rude not to answer emails quickly.
You may find it hard to believe.
I've found it absolutely fascinating talking to you, professor.
I thought it a bit strange that he hadn't told anyone.
I would appreciate it if you would help with our enquiries.

Seem, appear, turn out

We often use a preparatory it structure with these verbs.
- I appeared to have made a mistake.
OR It appeared that I had made a mistake.
- We seem to have been wrong about him.
OR It seems that we were wrong about him.
- He turns out not to be Nigerian at all; he's from Ghana.
OR It turns out that he's not Nigerian at all; he's from Ghana.

Distancing with it with passive reporting structures
We sometimes use passive structures to distance the information we are giving, when perhaps we aren't 100% sure, or when we don't want to mention the people involved. These forms are often used in newspapers and more formal writing.
It is sometimes said that Spanish is the easiest language to learn to speak badly.
It has been calculated that there are now more non-native speakers of English, than native speakers.
It is forbidden to smoke on the premises.
It would appear that they have left without us.

It + verb + if / as if / as though

It looks as if we're going to have to do something about Mike.
But it seems as though there may be no alternative.

It takes + time

We can use the verb take to say how much time something needs. We can do this in several ways:
The person is the subject: I took an hour to get dinner ready yesterday.
The object of the activity is the subject: Dinner took me an hour to get ready yesterday.
The activity is the subject: Getting dinner ready took me an hour yesterday.
Or we can use preparatory it as subject
It took me an hour to get dinner ready yesterday.:

It's time - to do / we did
When it's obvious who the subject is, we can use it's time + to-infinitive. When we need to specify the subject of the infinitive, we can either use for + object + to-infinitive, or a past tense with present meaning (Unreal past).
It's time to go to bed. (when it's obvious who I'm talking about)
It's time for her to go to bed. (when we want to specify who)
It's (high) time she went to bed. (when we want to specify who)
Note - we only use the intensifier high when we use the unreal past version.

Set phrases
I can't help it!
We made it!

or there?

When introducing new information we use there, as a false subject (not it) when we are saying that something exists or not.
There's a new film on at the Odeon, do you want to come?
Are there any wine glasses? - Yes, there are some in the sideboard.
Isn't there any sugar left? - There should be. Try in the cupboard.
Note - Introductory it is always followed by a singular verb. But with introductory there, whether the verb is singular or plural depends on the delayed subject.
It was surprising how many people turned up.
There is a new kid on the block.
There are some kids playing in our garden.

it's or its?
it's is a contraction of it is or it has
It's a lovely day, isn't it?
Yes, it's been sunny all week.
its is the possessive determiner from the pronoun it
Have you seen where the dog left its bone?
This computer has lost some of its speed.

It or they? Of governments, groups, families and couples
In British English we often refer to organisations comprising groups of people as they rather than it and these words are often used with a plural verb. These group nouns include government, council, committee, company, band, club etc.
We can also refer to them in the singular when we see the group as a single entity, in BrE we have that choice.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.