“This” or “It”: difference, rules, examples

"It" vs. "This" in English Grammar

The difference between “this” and “It” in English

In the English language, the words “this” and “it” are both pronouns, but they are used differently. “This” is a demonstrative pronoun used to identify a particular person or thing that is nearby or being indicated. It can also be used to refer to something that was just mentioned or to introduce someone or something into a conversation. “It” is a third-person singular personal pronoun that is often used to refer to animals or inanimate objects. “It” can be used as the subject or object in a sentence. “It” is also used in sentences about time, weather, and distance, or when there is no identified performer of an action. Examples:

  • This is my friend.
  • I like this book.
  • It is raining.
  • It is a beautiful car.

Let’s examine the usage of “this” and “it” in English in more detail, their meanings, and differences.

“This” in sentences in English

The pronoun “this” in English is used to indicate a person or thing that is near the speaker or is part of the context. “This” refers to the singular and can be used as either a determiner or a pronoun.

  • As a determiner, “this” comes before a noun to indicate a specific person or thing:
    • This book is interesting.
    • Can you see this dog?
  • As a pronoun, “this” replaces the noun when it is already understood what is being referred to:
    • I don’t like this.
    • Who left this here?

In a sentence, “this” can function in different roles:

  • Subject of a sentence:
    • This is my favorite song.
  • Object of a sentence:
    • I can’t understand this.
  • Subject complement:
    • This is what I need.

Rules for Using “This” in English

Referring to Something Nearby

  • “This” for nearby objects: When you want to draw attention to an object or situation that is physically close to you or your conversation partner, use “this”.
    • For example: “Do you see this dog? It’s so cute!”

Introducing Someone

  • “This” for introducing people: When introducing one person to another, “this” helps make it easy and natural.
    • For example: “John, this is my friend, Maria.”

“It” in Sentences in English

“It” is a third-person singular personal pronoun used to replace nouns when it is already understood what is being referred to, or when the noun does not need to be named again. The pronoun “it” in English is used as the subject or object in a sentence and can refer to an animal, thing, or phenomenon. Let’s examine the use of “it” in grammar and sentence structure:

  • As the subject of a sentence:
    • It is cold outside.
    • It was a long journey.
  • As the object of a sentence:
    • I don’t like it.
    • Can you believe it?

Rules for using “It” in English

“It” is also used in sentences about time, weather, distance, or when the subject of the action is unknown or unimportant.

Referring to Something Again

  • “It” for mentioning something again: Use “it” when you are referring back to an object or topic that has already been mentioned.
    • For example: “Did you see the movie last night? It was fantastic!”

Time, Dates, Weather, Distance, etc.

  • “It” for abstract concepts: Use “it” when talking about time, dates, weather, or distance, where specifying the subject is not necessary.
    • For example: “It’s half past nine,” or “It’s 20 miles to the nearest town.”
  • In weather statements:
    • It is snowing.
    • It is hot today.
  • In time and distance statements:
    • It is five o’clock.
    • It is far from here.

Constructions like “It” + Adjective + to-infinitive / that…

  • When expressing your thoughts, feelings, or emotions about a particular idea or action, “it” is a useful way to construct phrases.
    • For example: “It’s important to stay positive,” or “It’s surprising that he didn’t call.”

“It” is an important pronoun that allows you to avoid repetition and makes language more efficient. Using “it” helps the speaker be more precise and clear in their statements.

The main difference between “This” and “It” in English

Let’s look at the main differences between the pronouns “this” and “it”, focusing on their proper usage in different contexts. So, the main distinction is:

  • This is used to refer to a person or object that is closer to the speaker or mentioned in the context of the conversation. It also indicates something that has just been mentioned or is about to be mentioned immediately afterwards. “This” can indicate physical proximity or recency of an event.
  • It is used as a personal pronoun or refers back to a previously mentioned object or idea without emphasis on spatial or temporal closeness. “It” can be used to refer to weather, time, date, distance, environment, as well as to refer to ideas or situations that have already been discussed.

Exercise: Choose the correct word (“this” or “it”)

Choose the correct word (“this” or “it”) to fill in the blanks in the following sentences.

  1. _______ is the day we’ve been waiting for.
    • a) This
    • b) It
  2. I can’t believe _______ is already December!
    • a) this
    • b) it
  3. Have you seen _______ new movie yet?
    • a) this
    • b) it
  4. _______ was very kind of you to help me with my homework.
    • a) This
    • b) It
  5. _______ was a pleasure meeting you.
    • a) This
    • b) It
  6. I find _______ difficult to understand quantum physics.
    • a) this
    • b) it
  7. _______ looks like we’re going to have a storm tonight.
    • a) This
    • b) It
  8. _______ book is one of my favorites.
    • a) This
    • b) It
  9. _______ is always good to have some extra money saved up.
    • a) This
    • b) It
  10. _______ is important to exercise regularly for good health.
    • a) This
    • b) It


  1. b) It
  2. a) This
  3. a) this
  4. b) It
  5. a) This
  6. b) it
  7. b) It
  8. a) This
  9. b) It
  10. b) It

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