Understanding the Meaning Behind ‘It’ in English

Unravel the complexity of the English language by delving into the various meanings of ‘it’. This article helps language learners crack this seemingly simple word that holds immense significance.


Grasping the complexity of the English language can be a challenging task due to the nature of its words, structure, and grammar rules. One such element often causing confusion is the commonly used pronoun ‘it’. Despite its frequent use, ‘it’ can still generate misunderstanding.

The Role of ‘It’

‘It’ serves as a third-person singular subject pronoun nominative case, often used in reference to a thing, animal, or an implied idea, among other instances. As it can hold different meanings depending on its context, ‘It’ enhances the language’s flexibility.

Contextual Understanding

Context is paramount when discerning the denotation of ‘it’. This is due to the English language’s reliance on context to provide accurate meaning. Looking at sentences or phrases surrounding the word ‘it’ can give clues about its intended meaning.

Illustrative Examples of ‘It’

  • ‘It’ as a Subject: For example, “It is raining.” Here, ‘it’ refers to the weather.

  • ‘It’ as an Object: For instance, “Can you see it?” Here, ‘it’ could be any object that the speakers have been discussing.

  • ‘It’ as an Impersonal or Empty Subject: For instance, “It is necessary to study every day.” In this sentence, ‘it’ doesn’t refer to any certain thing or person.

Statistics Displaying Common Usage

According to the Corpus of Contemporary American English, ‘it’ is the sixth most commonly used word. This underscores the need to understand its functionality efficiently.


The use of ‘it’ in English is a remarkable facet of the English language, offering flexibility and diversity that contributes to the richness of the language. Understanding ‘it’ in different contexts empowers language learners and users to master their communication skills and become more proficient in their expression.

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