It (pronoun)  

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It is a third-person, singular neuter pronoun (nominative (subjective) case and oblique (objective) case) in Modern English.


Usage

In English, words such as it and the adjective its have been used to refer to babies and pets, although with the passing of the Victorian era this usage has come to be considered too impersonal, with many usage critics arguing that it demeans a conscious being to the status of a mere thing. This use of "it" also got bad press when various regimes used it as a rhetorical device to dehumanize their enemies, implying that they were little better than animals. The word remains in common use however, and its use increases with how impersonal whatever the speaker is referring is to them. For example someone else's dog is often referred to as it, especially if the dog isn't known by the speaker. A person would rarely though, say it when referring to their own cat or dog. Examples:

  • The baby had its first checkup.
  • They are taking their dog to the vet, they said it looked sick.

"It" is still used for idiomatic phrases such as Is it a girl or a boy? Once the gender of the child has been established, the speaker or writer then switches to gender-specific pronouns.

Some people propose using "it" in a wider sense in all the situations where a gender-neutral pronoun might be desired. The advantage of using an existing word is that the language does not have to change as much. The disadvantage is the possibility of causing offense. This usage of it is currently very rare, and most commentators feel that it is unlikely to catch on. Samuel Taylor Coleridge was one early advocate of this. Template:Cquote One author who consistently wrote in this manner was the children's author E. Nesbit, who often wrote of mixed groups of children, and would write, e.g., "Everyone got its legs kicked or its feet trodden on in the scramble to get out of the carriage. (Five Children and It, p. 1)"

In earlier Middle English, arising from Old English, the pronoun was hit (similar to Dutch "het" and West Frisian "hit" with the same meaning), with the unaspirated it being an unaccented form. The genitive was his, with the new form its only arising by analogy in later Middle English.

The pronoun it also serves as a place-holder subject (dummy pronoun) in sentences with no identifiable actor, such as "It rained last night."

See also

"It" as a euphemism for sexual intercourse
indefinite, neuter




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "It (pronoun)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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