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  1. sky3120's Avatar
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    #1

    It, that and this

    Hello, long time no post. Today I'd like to ask a question about usage of "it, that and this". It is really picky for me to know exact usage of them. And here is what I have found online and I sort of agree with her but not 100%. That's why I need your help and opinions.

    In formal writing, 'this', 'that', 'these', and 'those', cannot be used by themselves as pronouns.

    But you can use 'that' as an adjective, for example 'that book is mine'.

    So looking at the examples you've shown me, the first sentence in grammatically incorrect:


    Sarah didn't call her mom. That caused a problem. = X
    I forgot to call my mom. It was my mistake. = O


    In more informal writing or speaking, you can use 'this' and 'that' as pronouns.

    it, or this is referring to something near you
    that is referring to something far from you

    What I cannot understand in this writing is that

    "In formal writing, 'this', 'that', 'these', and 'those', cannot be used by themselves as pronouns".


    "Sarah didn't call her mom. That caused a problem. = X"


    "it, or this is referring to something near you"

    Is it real that 'this', 'that', 'these', and 'those', cannot be used in formal writing, and "it" is refering to something near you? I think "this" is refering to something near you but "it" is refering to something neutral. What do you think?

    Thanks in advance all the time.

  2. SlickVic9000's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: It, that and this

    (Not a Teacher)

    'This' tends to refer to things that are a part of the conversation. (Who's this? A friend of yours?)
    'That' tends to refer to things 'outside' of the conversation. (Who's that guy over there?)

    However, they are frequently used interchangeably, so stay flexible.

    Also, I would disagree that it, that, these, and those are not used as pronouns in formal writing.
    Last edited by SlickVic9000; 28-Mar-2012 at 16:45.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: It, that and this

    Quote Originally Posted by sky3120 View Post
    Hello, long time no post. Today I'd like to ask a question about usage of "it, that and this". It is really picky for me to know exact usage of them. And here is what I have found online and I sort of agree with her but not 100%. That's why I need your help and opinions.

    In formal writing, 'this', 'that', 'these', and 'those', cannot be used by themselves as pronouns.

    But you can use 'that' as an adjective, for example 'that book is mine'.

    So looking at the examples you've shown me, the first sentence in grammatically incorrect:


    Sarah didn't call her mom. That caused a problem. = X
    I forgot to call my mom. It was my mistake. = O


    In more informal writing or speaking, you can use 'this' and 'that' as pronouns.

    it, or this is referring to something near you
    that is referring to something far from you

    What I cannot understand in this writing is that

    "In formal writing, 'this', 'that', 'these', and 'those', cannot be used by themselves as pronouns".


    "Sarah didn't call her mom. That caused a problem. = X"


    "it, or this is referring to something near you"

    Is it real that 'this', 'that', 'these', and 'those', cannot be used in formal writing, and "it" is refering to something near you? I think "this" is refering to something near you but "it" is refering to something neutral. What do you think?

    Thanks in advance all the time.
    As usual, the term "formal writing" causes problems for me. What does it mean? Exam answers? Writing to your boss? In a novel? Personally, I see no problem with the use of "that" (for example) in any context provided it makes sense.

    In an email to a friend: Sarah didn't call her mum. That caused a problem.
    In an email to your boss: John didn't phone the office to say he was sick. That caused a problem because we didn't know we needed to cover his work.

    In an email to a friend: I saw the shoes you bought. Those aren't the ones I thought you wanted.
    In an email to a friend: I have seen the reports John submitted. Those are the ones he should have submitted a month ago. This month's reports are still outstanding.

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