It is the only impersonal pronoun in English. The following are some of the important uses of it.
It can be used as a subject to an impersonal verb.
- It is raining.
- It is snowing on the mountains.
- It is Sunday today.
- ‘What is the time now?’ ‘It is 5 o’clock.’
- It is always cloudy on the hills.
The pronoun it is used as a provisional subject, when the real subject is an infinitive.
- It is not easy to defeat him. (More natural than ‘To defeat him is not easy.’)
- It is dangerous to play with fire. (More natural than ‘To play with fire is dangerous.’)
It is used to represent a noun in the neuter gender.
- I am taking the meat back to the shop because it isn’t good.
It can be used to represent a young baby of either sex.
- The baby is crying. It must be hungry.
- I did not disturb the child because it was sleeping.
It can also be used for small and domestic animals.
- I love my dog. It is almost human.
- I will not sell my cow because it yields 10 litres of milk every day.
It is used as an emphasizer before a noun or a pronoun.
- It was Susie who painted this picture.
- It was John who broke the window.
- It was Nancy who made the cake.
- It was the Prime Minister who made this announcement.
It can be used to refer to a preceding statement.
- Jack was maltreated by his uncle; and he could not forget it all his life.