ForumsThe Tavern"It" - English Pronouns and Grammar

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Reton8
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Here's the backstory, just skip down to The fifth rebuttal: (Underneath the dashed line) if you don't care for the backstory.

The sentence:
Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. It's ferrets, after all.

The correction:
They're* ferrets after all.

The rebuttal:
It's ferrets, after all.
It's sounds correct to me. Using the word It conveys a broader sense of the topic at hand (which is ferrets) instead of referring directly to the animal.

The second rebuttal:
It (is) implies only one subject, while they (are) implies many. Since the direct object (ferrets) is plural, the latter would be correct.

The third rebuttal:
Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. It's ferrets, after all.

could be read as:

Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. It's their type of lifestyle, after all.

Irresponsibility is the antecedent and noun that it is referring to. Irresponsibility is not directly in the first sentence, but can be derived from it. Irresponsibility is a singular noun. Therefore, "It's there type of lifestyle, after all." is correct and so are the sentences Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. It's ferrets, after all.

The sentence could read:
Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. Irresponsibility is their type of lifestyle, after all.
Which avoids ambiguity from It's.

So It's ferrets, after all. is either correct or slang. But even as slang it's a common occurrence form native speakers.

The fourth rebuttal:
That's not really how I gathered it, very much at all. It seemed to me more like "It's their nature being ferrets, after all." "their* type of lifestyle" would be more of the case that they're more dependent on lifestyle and not on them being ferrets, which likely is not the case. They have a choice to change their lifestyle, but they can't make themselves not be ferrets. I suppose you could look at it as irresponsibility being tempting, but in direct correlation with ferrets it doesn't make all that much sense to me. So, in conclusion, I see that the sentence must come out one of two ways:

Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. They're ferrets, after all. (Referring directly to ferrets, and their tendency to be irresponsible. Kind of a redundant statement put together, but oh well.)

Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. It's irresponsibility, after all. (Referring directly to irresponsibility, because one could see the temptation to live your life irresponsibly. The less redundant statement of the two.)


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The fifth rebuttal:

They have a choice to change their lifestyle, but they can't make themselves not be ferrets.
This whole thing about whether or not they can change their lifestyle. That has no bearing, no influence, nothing to do with the sentence structure and grammar. Both sentences are a joke. Are ferrets irresponsible? Probably not, but it could be possible or at the least possible in the creative/cartoon realm. So, just because irresponsibility and ferrets doesn't work well for you it has nothing to do with the sentence and the grammar at all. You're not arguing actual grammar rules here, but the essence of ferrets.

Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. They're ferrets, after all. (Referring directly to ferrets, and their tendency to be irresponsible. Kind of a redundant statement put together, but oh well.)


This seems redundant to you because you're breaking down the sentence and examining for an extended period. I know because the same thing crossed my mind. But, this is not redundant. The second sentence reinforces the first. It also lets the reader know that irresponsibility is common to ferrets in general (although irresponsible ferrets may not be true, as a joke it works and this is a comedic sentence).

Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. It's irresponsibility, after all. (Referring directly to irresponsibility, because one could see the temptation to live your life irresponsibly. The less redundant statement of the two.)


This doesn't work with the situation at hand. it would not make sense to use this sentence in this situation. The whole topic prior to this and within the sentence is ferrets. The two sentences are comments on ferrets and there lifestyles. Using the sentence you have would work if the topic was
irresponsibility and we were highlighting that even animals like to live irresponsibly.

Here is the simple way to rephrase the sentence and avoid ambiguity:

Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. Irresponsibility is ferrets, after all.

The second sentence tells the reader that the ferrets don't just enjoy irresponsibly but it encompasses their lifestyle and behavior. Don't make the mistake of arguing whether or not the ferrets can actually be irresponsible. The whole point of the two sentences was a joke, they're supposed to far fetched.
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Reton8
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an I'm not sure if the sentence is correct or not. If it is correct it may be a poorly constructed sentence as well.

jeol
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But, I'm not sure. Putting the determiner many before things changes the sentence and I have a strong feelings this is why the sentence is correct. I'm not sure of this at all though.

Like has been mentioned in the past, the predicate is incorrect, thus the sentence is incorrect. '[It] is multiples' is not correct, even for a group. That is not to assume that something like 'he is lovable and good to talk to' is not a correct sentence, since the adjectives are all describing a singular object. However, with actual objects, they aren't particularly describing the group, but defining it. They are pretty much the same though, right? I would say that describing involves adjectives, while defining involves nouns. The question is how to get around the problem with the predicate.

As we have seen, we can describe an object or group using the simple verb 'is'. Defining is where we get problems. The solution is to 'repositionize' (I love verbing words) the defining characters. You'll need a singular verb to go along with it, since the noun or pronoun is singular. I use 'consists' since the group would consist of these objects.

"It consists of Jack, Jerry, and Jim. It has three members."

'Has' would not work in the case of defining 'it' - it works in describing how many members are in the group, but in the case of defining it would practically be 'is in the possession of'. 'Has' describes, not defines - it would quite literally be describing what 'it' has. But what makes 'consists of' so special? It is mostly the sense that the words are defined - 'is made up of' would also work, since the core of what makes up 'it' is being defined. The verb is singular, but gathers all of the information following 'of' in a singular form. It's a little hard to explain beyond that, but basically, the verb depends on a word that brings everything together to be defined as a group. An engine is a group of parts. It is built from pistons and such and usually requires gasoline to run. The verb isn't exactly assuming everything to one thing, but defining what builds it into a single entity. Simply put, you wouldn't say, "It are an engine" because it is built up of multiple parts. You would say "It is an engine, and consists of multiple parts."

... That probably makes no sense, but that is how I see it built up logically.
Reton8
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"It is ferrets." and "It is many things." Are different sentences with different predicates. "It is many things." may actually have a proper predicate.

If I said, "Jimmy is a dance, actor, musician, race car draiver, and blacksmith. He is many things."

It is not correct to say "They are many things." because They is a pronoun that does not agree with the antecedent Jimmy. So, "It is many things. is not incorrect because it contains it is.

An engine is a group of parts.
Engines are a group of parts.


Notice how, although the engine and the engines are all considered groups of parts one noun receives a plural verb and the other receives a singular verb. This is because engine could be considered a collective noun.
From Wikipeida: Collective Nouns

In linguistics, a collective noun is the name of a number (or collection) of people or things taken together and spoken of as one whole. For example, in the phrase "a pride of lions", pride is a collective noun.

An engine may be thought of as a collection of parts yet it is spoken of as one whole. One could say "...a pride of lions." and also "...prides of lions." Notice how in "...a pride of lions." how pride need not be plural to match lions and is correct as stated.

It is many things. It could be considered a collective noun in this instance because of the word it and it's ambiguous nature (the word is a pronoun). Also, we know that it consists or many abstract ideas or many actual things.
Reton8
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Engines are groups of parts. (This might be more correct)
But either way notice how parts remains plural in both sentences.

jeol
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It is many things. It could be considered a collective noun in this instance because of the word it and it's ambiguous nature (the word is a pronoun). Also, we know that it consists or many abstract ideas or many actual things.

Yes, but is is a verb while of is a preposition. The fact that there can be multiple groups is a little irrelevant, I think. If there are multiple groups of the same people, you wouldn't say 'They are Jack, Jerry, and Jim.' You would say 'They consist of Jack, Jerry, and Jim.' I'm guessing you read my third paragraph? Notice the instances that I use 'describe' and 'define'. They're the two differentiating points in this argument.

It is not correct to say "They are many things." because They is a pronoun that does not agree with the antecedent Jimmy. So, "It is many things." is not incorrect because it contains it is.

Your conclusion only sees two possible arguments. Again, read the third paragraph.
Reton8
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I suppose that you can say
"Jim does many things." and it would not be correct to say, "Jim do many things."
However, neither is "I does many things." it would be "I do many things." The subject must agree with the auxiliary verb do. The noun, things does not have any bearing on the verb do/does in this instance.

The object at hand is singular, It and what it is, is multiple things. It sounds wrong to me in my head and right. Let's say it is a Swiss Army Knife.
"The Swiss Army Knife is multiple things." I suppose it would be correct to change the sentence to "The Swiss Army Knife is multifaceted. or "The Swiss Army Knife has many parts." "...is many things" sounds less correct (or wrong) compared to "...has many parts." But remember "..is ferrets" does not work because ferrets is a noun that is plural. While is many links a singular verb with an adjective. (?)

I don't know at this point. I don't know all the different components of a sentence well enough and I have probably been over thinking this to the point were it's making it harder for me to see the answer.

I would like to ask a professor about this one or ask a linguist.

NoNameC68
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Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. It's ferrets, after all.


Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. That's ferrets, after all.

or

Ferrets like to live their lives irresponsibly. That's what defines ferrets, after all.
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