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Thread: That vs it

  1. #1
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default That vs it

    That can refer to situations and events which have just finished, or more distant in the past. (Michael Swan)

    “This, that and it”can all refer back to what has been just mentioned. “It” does not give anyspecial emphasis. This and that are more emphatic on the things or situations.(Michael Swan)

    In the following sentences, is it correct to use “that” instead of “it”? If they are both correct, is there any difference?

    1. My boyfriend says he'll give up smoking but I don't believe it.

    2. I don't want to talk about it, how you broke my heart.(A song by Rod Stewart)

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: That vs it

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    That can refer to situations and events which have just finished, or more distant in the past. (Michael Swan)

    “This, that and it”can all refer back to what has been just mentioned. “It” does not give anyspecial emphasis. This and that are more emphatic on the things or situations.(Michael Swan)

    In the following sentences, is it correct to use “that” instead of “it”? If they are both correct, is there any difference?

    1. My boyfriend says he'll give up smoking but I don't believe it.

    2. I don't want to talk about it, how you broke my heart.(A song by Rod Stewart)
    Sentence 1 would be much more natural with "I don't believe him". "It" works. "That" doesn't.
    Sentence 2 is fine as it is. "It" refers to "the subject of when you broke my heart".
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  3. #3
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: That vs it

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Sentence 1 would be much more natural with "I don't believe him". "It" works. "That" doesn't.
    Sentence 2 is fine as it is. "It" refers to "the subject of when you broke my heart".
    Thanks, ems.

    Do you mean " that" is not correct in sentence 2? I just want to re-confirm.

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: That vs it

    Either would do in 1* - 'that' would be more likely if you went on to compare or contrast it with something else: ' My boyfriend says he'll give up smoking but I don't believe that, just as I don't believe him when he says he's going to stop drinking.'

    In 2, the 'it' version is more likely, especially as the sentence goes on to specify what the 'it' is. 'That' would fit better if the sentence were inverted (and went on to compare/contrast, as in 1): 'As to the way you broke my heart, I don't want to talk about that, or about the the way you've wasted the best years of my life.'

    b

    *PS This was written before I saw Ems's reply. We agree this far: 'Sentence 1 would be much more natural with "I don't believe him". '
    Last edited by BobK; 07-Jan-2013 at 11:06. Reason: PS added

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