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"It" - English Pronouns and Grammar

Posted Feb 19, '13 at 2:09pm

jeol

jeol

3,964 posts

From what I have gathered at this point, it is okay to have a sentence like,"It is hot." But it's better to say, "The stove is hot." or something to that effect.

Perhaps, but I thought you were talking about the weather with the first one :P So yeah, context is most of it. Something like "I am touching the stove. It is hot." would work. You don't want to repeat things too much, unless there's a lot of identities going around and you can't really generalize. For example:

"The dog barked at the bird in the tree, who flew away and landed on a twig that snapped and fell to the ground, and the bird took off once again. I called it inside."

What is 'it' that is being called - the dog, the bird, or the twig? I mean, logically, it would probably be the dog unless you have a pet bird that you let outside, but with just grammar logic it takes a moment to try to figure out what the identifier would apply to.
 

Posted Feb 19, '13 at 2:58pm

Reton8

Reton8

2,977 posts

Moderator

What is 'it' that is being called - the dog, the bird, or the twig? I mean, logically, it would probably be the dog unless you have a pet bird that you let outside, but with just grammar logic it takes a moment to try to figure out what the identifier would apply to.


Well, that introduces ambiguity and should be avoided.
 

Posted Feb 19, '13 at 6:45pm

ironblade41

ironblade41

530 posts

Honestly, I read the whole thing until I got down to the 5th rebuttal. I skimmed this, so I'm saying that it should, in fact, be they're, not it's.

 

Posted Feb 19, '13 at 9:18pm

greenpeople2007

greenpeople2007

400 posts

It would have to be they're(they are). It's (it is) can only be used in the case of a singular entity. (It's a ferret, after all.) Since there is more than one ferret, it would be: They're ferrets, after all.

If you really want to be proper, the most correct form would be: They are ferrets, after all. Which is still bad grammar.

This is a no-win scenario.

Source: I live with an English teacher, no he does not proofread every comment I make so my grammar my not be the best.

 

Posted Feb 20, '13 at 4:33am

Strop

Strop

11,089 posts

Moderator

I live with an English teacher


See if you can get your English teacher housemate to comment on the original post.
 

Posted Feb 20, '13 at 5:44am

Reton8

Reton8

2,977 posts

Moderator

It's super crazy simple: do the subject and verb agree? No.

I've actually been thinking about this. If you take the first and second sentences together:
Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. It is ferrets, after all.

Then the subject of the first sentence does not match with the subject of the second sentence. So, yes the subject it and the verb is (taken together) do not agree with ferrets (are).

In other words, as I have been saying all along, the pronoun (it) does not agree with the antecedent (ferrets).

But, let's take the second sentence alone (and remove the (prepositional phrase?)after all):
It is ferrets.

The subject and verb agree just fine. It is the subject and the is is the verb. The problem with this sentence, as a stand alone sentence, is that the predicate has no meaning. You have the subject (noun) It and the predicate (verb phrase? or some strange mix of phrasal types.) is ferrets.

I'm not 100% certain of this, but I would say the second phrase is incorrect because it fails to have a proper predicate and the pronoun does not agree with the antecedent.
 

Posted Feb 20, '13 at 7:18am

Reton8

Reton8

2,977 posts

Moderator

From further reading, I am seeing that the sentence (It is ferrets.) is incorrect because the grammatically number of the noun (ferrets - plural) does not agree with the pronoun (it - singular) and the verb (is - singular) that goes with that pronoun.

In other words, the pronoun (it) and the verb (is) have not been properly inflected to agree with the noun (ferrets).

(Or, when looking at the sentence "It's ferrets." as a standalone sentence, one could say that the wrong noun [ferrets] was chosen. The noun ferret should have been chosen instead and the article a should have been introduced before the noun [to obtain, "It is a ferret."].)

The subject and verb still agree in the sentence "It is ferrets." The sentence is incorrect because the of the pronoun have the wrong inflection.

 

Posted Feb 20, '13 at 8:02am

Reton8

Reton8

2,977 posts

Moderator

The subject and verb still agree in the sentence "It is ferrets." The sentence is incorrect because the pronoun and verb* have the wrong inflection.

 

Posted Feb 20, '13 at 4:54pm

soccerdude2

soccerdude2

1,718 posts

You know, I was thinking about this in my English class today while our teacher told us to work while he did nothing, and I figured it out pretty much the same thing you did. I was about to post it here, but then you already had posted it!

Then I started thinking about the sentence "He is many things." Or, I guess,"It is many things." Is that technically a sentence like "It is ferrets?" I'm pretty sure I've heard it in conversation, and it seems to work in my mind. I'm still unsure though as if "many things" works like "ferrets" as well.

So help me!

 

Posted Feb 20, '13 at 5:30pm

jeol

jeol

3,964 posts

Then I started thinking about the sentence "He is many things." Or, I guess,"It is many things." Is that technically a sentence like "It is ferrets?" I'm pretty sure I've heard it in conversation, and it seems to work in my mind. I'm still unsure though as if "many things" works like "ferrets" as well.

Usually, when a singular is assigned to something of multiple values as such, it becomes more of a group than just a thing. Something like 'It consists of many things.' would make more sense. If 'he' is a group of attributes, since people usually could be described in different ways, 'He consists of many things.' would probably make sense. It distracts the plural noun from acting directly upon the subject and verb (the 'of' in particular), thus making it grammatically correct. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's how it works.
 
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