The Comprehensive Guide to Understanding “It” in English Grammar

“It” is a versatile and multifaceted pronoun in the English language, with a wide range of applications and nuances. Whether you’re a student, a writer, or simply someone interested in the intricacies of the English language, this comprehensive guide will delve into the various aspects of “it” and provide you with a deep understanding of its usage.

The Grammatical Specification of “It”

In English grammar, “it” is a personal pronoun that is used to refer to a thing, an animal, or an idea. It can serve as a subject, object, or complement within a sentence. Let’s explore the different ways “it” can be used:

“It” as a Subject

When “it” is used as the subject of a sentence, it represents the main entity or focus of the statement. For example:

  • “It is raining outside.”
  • “It seems that the plan has been approved.”
  • “It was a beautiful day in the park.”

In these cases, “it” acts as the subject, carrying the main action or state of being.

“It” as an Object

As an object, “it” represents the recipient of an action or the entity being acted upon. For example:

  • “I saw it on the table.”
  • “The cat chased it around the yard.”
  • “She picked it up and examined it closely.”

In these instances, “it” serves as the object of the sentence, receiving the action performed by the subject.

“It” as a Complement

“It” can also be used as a complement, providing additional information or description about the subject or object of the sentence. For example:

  • “The winner of the contest was it.”
  • “The problem with the project is that it is too complex.”
  • “The answer to the question is it.”

In these cases, “it” complements the subject or object, offering more details or clarification.

“It” as a Placeholder or Dummy Subject

In some sentences, “it” is used as a placeholder or dummy subject when the real subject is a clause or a phrase. This is particularly common in sentences that express a state of being or a judgment. For example:

  • “It is true that he is coming.”
  • “It is a shame that they lost the game.”
  • “It seems that the weather will be nice today.”

In these instances, “it” serves as a grammatical placeholder, allowing the sentence to flow more naturally while the real subject is expressed in the subsequent clause.

Expanded Examples and Nuances of “It”


To further illustrate the versatility of “it,” let’s explore some additional examples and nuances:

Referring to Unspecified Objects or Animals

When “it” is used to refer to an unspecified object or animal, it helps to maintain the flow of the sentence without explicitly naming the item or creature. For example:

  • “The dog chased it around the park.”
  • “I found it in the drawer.”
  • “The cat played with it for hours.”

In these cases, “it” stands in for the unidentified object or animal, allowing the sentence to progress without the need for a more specific reference.

Referring to a Specific Entity

“It” can also be used to refer to a specific entity, such as a book, a device, or a concept. For example:

  • “The book says it is a bestseller.”
  • “My phone is not working; it seems to be malfunctioning.”
  • “The company’s new product, it is a game-changer in the industry.”

Here, “it” directly refers to the book, the phone, or the company’s product, providing a clear and concise way to reference these specific entities.

Idiomatic Expressions with “It”

In addition to its grammatical uses, “it” is also commonly found in various idiomatic expressions that add nuance and meaning to the language. Some examples include:

  • “It’s raining cats and dogs.” (Meaning: It’s raining heavily)
  • “It’s a piece of cake.” (Meaning: Something is easy to do)
  • “It’s now or never.” (Meaning: This is the only opportunity)

These idiomatic expressions showcase how “it” can be used in figurative and colloquial ways to convey specific meanings and connotations.

The Versatility of “It” in Different Contexts

The usage of “it” extends beyond the grammatical specifications and examples provided so far. The pronoun can adapt and take on different meanings depending on the context in which it is used. Let’s explore some additional contexts where “it” plays a significant role:

“It” in IT Cosmetics

In the context of the beauty brand IT Cosmetics, “it” refers to the company’s range of makeup and skincare products. The brand was developed in collaboration with plastic surgeons and dermatologists to provide anti-aging solutions and address various skin concerns, such as redness, large pores, and wrinkles. The use of “it” in this context emphasizes the brand’s focus on providing effective and innovative cosmetic solutions.

“It” in the Film and TV Adaptations of Stephen King’s “It”

The horror stories and adaptations of Stephen King’s “It” feature a shapeshifting entity that takes on the form of a terrifying clown named Pennywise. In this context, “it” refers to the supernatural and malevolent force that haunts the children of Derry, Maine. The use of “it” in this case highlights the elusive and otherworldly nature of the antagonist, emphasizing its lack of a fixed identity or form.

“It” in Everyday Conversations

In everyday conversations, “it” can be used in a variety of ways to refer to various objects, ideas, or situations. For example:

  • “Did you see it on the news this morning?”
  • “I’m not sure what it is, but it looks interesting.”
  • “It’s been a long day, but I’m glad it’s finally over.”

In these instances, “it” serves as a flexible pronoun that allows speakers to reference something without needing to specify the exact details or identity of the subject.


The term “it” is a versatile and multifaceted pronoun in the English language, with a wide range of applications and nuances. From its grammatical uses as a subject, object, or complement, to its role in idiomatic expressions and its contextual adaptations, “it” is a crucial element of the English language that deserves a deep understanding.

By exploring the various aspects of “it” presented in this comprehensive guide, you now have a solid foundation to confidently and effectively use this pronoun in your own writing, speaking, and understanding of the English language.