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  1. Just Joined
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    #1

    Using "it" to refer to people

    Hi there!

    Is it correct to use "it" in the following sentence?

    It was the coolest friend with whom I had lunch.

    Somebody told me this sentence and I was in doubt if there should be He/She instead of It in the beginning.

    Additional tips are welcome

    Thank you!

  2. Roman55's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Using "it" to refer to people

    As well as 'he' or 'she' I would use 'that' but not 'it' in that sentence.

    There might be some contrived sentences where 'it' would be acceptable when refering to a person, but I can't think of any that I like.
    I am not a teacher

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    #3

    Re: Using "it" to refer to people

    He was the coolest friend with whom I had lunch.

    I don't like this much either. What does it mean?
    - He is the coolest of my friends with whom I have ever had lunch.
    - The person I had lunch with [on a certain occasion] is/was my coolest friend.
    - The person I had lunch with is the coolest friend of someone else. (probably unlikely)
    - He was my coolest friend, and I had lunch with him.
    - something else?

  4. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Using "it" to refer to people

    Quote Originally Posted by Reigomes View Post
    Hi there!

    Is it correct to use "it" in the following sentence?

    It was the coolest friend with whom I had lunch.

    Yes. In the US, we would usually say, "I had lunch with the coolest person" - meaning that I had lunch with a very cool person, indeed.

    At least in the US, we would probably not say "with whom."

    But "It was the coolest friend I had lunch with" is fine.



    Somebody told me this sentence and I was in doubt if there should be He/She instead of It in the beginning.

    Additional tips are welcome.

    Thank you!
    I can't explain this one. Maybe someone else can!
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Using "it" to refer to people

    My only explanation is that we (without an exception that I can think of) use only "he/she/they" to refer to people (in the third person).

    I find "It was the coolest friend I had lunch with" very unnatural.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  6. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Using "it" to refer to people

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    . . . I find "It was the coolest friend I had lunch with" very unnatural.
    I do, too, but apparently someone thought it sounded right.

    Glad you said that!
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  7. Piscean's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Using "it" to refer to people

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    My only explanation is that we (without an exception that I can think of) use only "he/she/they" to refer to people (in the third person).
    Except in such situations as:


    Who's that at the door?
    It's Emma.

    I saw someone climbing over the fence. It was Luke.

    Somebody has been sitting in my chair.
    It was that Goldilocks again!


  8. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Using "it" to refer to people

    Sorry, I should have been clearer. I meant that we don't use any other words to replace someone's name.

    In "Who's that at the door?", "that" doesn't replace "he", "she" or someone's name. If we already knew who was at the door, we wouldn't need to ask the question.

    However (!), I will accept that it's possible for someone to point at someone (across the room, for example) and say to a third person "Who's that?" rather than "Who's he/she?", but we definitely wouldn't say "Who's it?" In that example, "Who's that?" means "Who's that person [over there]?"
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #9

    Re: Using "it" to refer to people

    Nor do we say "What is that?" instead of "Who is that?" The pronoun that marks a person is in the first part - even though 'that' refers back to the same person, as does 'it' in "Who is it?"

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