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    #1

    Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Hello! In my previous thread I wrote: "Down the straightaway = at the far side (back) of the straightaway. Is it correct?"

    GoesStation corrected the question to "Is
    that correct?" with the following explanation: "This and that point at something — in this case, text that's nearby or at least a little further away. It has no sense of directionality. When you ask whether "it's" correct, the reader wonders "Is what correct? Some random idea?" When you specify "this", I know that you're asking about something nearby."

    I thought 'it' could also refer to a previous sentence/utterance/idea/thought. Swan says (Practical English Usage, Fourth Edition, unit 145):

    "This, that and it can all be used to refer back to things or situations that have just been talked or written about. It does not give any special emphasis.
    So she decided to paint her house pink. It upset the neighbours a bit.
    This and that are more emphatic; they 'shine a light', so to speak, on the things or situations, suggesting 'an interesting new fact has been mentioned'.
    So she decided to paint her house pink. This/That really upset the neighbours, as you can imagine.
    ...
    It
    is used only to refer to things which are 'in focus' - which have already been talked about. This is preferred when we 'bring things into focus' before anything has been said about them. Compare:
    I enjoyed 'Vampires' Picnic'. It/This is a film for all the family...
    'Vampires' Picnic': This is a film for all the family...(NOT It is a film for all the family...)


    Doesn't my original example fit this explanation? I mean 'it' is just less emphatic than 'that' but not wrong.
    Last edited by Alexey86; 16-May-2020 at 22:08.
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  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    "Is it correct?" seems perfectly fine to me.
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    #3

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    "Is it correct?" seems perfectly fine to me.
    It is, in many contexts. The post where I corrected it to "that" was not exactly what Alexey quoted. The formatting was different, with the text the question was about further away on the page. I felt that this put that text a little out of reach to use "it".

    This is a very subtle distinction. "It" wasn't wrong; it just felt less natural to me than "this".
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    #4

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    The formatting was different, with the text the question was about further away on the page. I felt that this put that text a little out of reach to use "it".
    Would you clarify this, please? You said, 'This' and 'that' point at something — in this case, text that's nearby or at least a little further away." Doesn't it mean that 'it' is more appropriate when referential text is further away, as it is in my case?
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    #5

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Would you clarify this, please? You said, 'This' and 'that' point at something in this case, text that's nearby or at least a little further away." Doesn't it mean that 'it' is more appropriate when referential text is further away, as it is in my case?
    You probably meant to ask Does this mean ? I phrased my explanation badly. I meant to establish this distinction:
    this: nearby
    that: further away (at least a little).


    I qualified "that" because it covers any distance that isn't very close: it works equally well with that book (the one on the shelf in front of me) or that mountain (the one on the horizon, fifty miles away).

    I'm having trouble finding a way to guide you as to when "it" works. It's a tricky question, that one.
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    #6

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    You probably meant to ask Does this mean …?
    I used doesn't in the sense I used it in the OP (Doesn't my example fit this (Swan's) explanation = If it doesn't, then I'm surprised.) because I thought there was a contradiction in your explanation I didn't expect to see.

    I used it because it referred to the preceding quotation. I thought it wasn't the case when "text a little out of reach to use ''it''. There was no distance between them at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    I'm having trouble finding a way to guide you as to when "it" works. It's a tricky question, that one.
    I understand. It's really difficult to explain subtle differences in word usage. Thank you!
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    #7

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    I used doesn't in the sense I used it in the OP (Doesn't my example fit this (Swan's) explanation = If it doesn't, then I'm surprised.) because I thought there was a contradiction in your explanation I didn't expect to see.
    Okay, in that case, you used doesn't perfectly. The question would be more naturally worded Doesn't this mean ? Using "this" says "Doesn't the thing that I have just mentioned mean (what I'm about to say)?" When you wrote "it", you lost the instruction that "this" provides to the reader: look at something very close to you.
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    #8

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    When you wrote "it", you lost the instruction that "this" provides to the reader: look at something very close to you.
    What's the difference between Swan's example and mine with respect to the usage of 'it':

    So she decided to paint her house pink. It upset the neighbours a bit.

    You said, 'This' and 'that' point at something — in this case, text that's nearby or at least a little further away." Doesn't it mean that 'it' is more appropriate when referential text is further away, as it is in my case?

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  9. Member
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    #9

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    I would be glad to see GS's or other members' responses. If Swan's example is natural, does it differ from mine regarding the choice of pronoun?

    And again, I've used 'it' in my question ('does it differ') instead of 'this/that', though they both would fit GS's explanation pointing at 'Swan's example'. Is it just me, or does anybody also agree that 'it' is a better choice here?
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    #10

    Re: Is it correct? vs Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    What's the difference between Swan's example and mine with respect to the usage of 'it':

    So she decided to paint her house pink. It upset the neighbours a bit.

    You said, 'This' and 'that' point at something in this case, text that's nearby or at least a little further away." Doesn't it this mean that 'it' is more appropriate when referential text is further away, as it is in my case?
    When you want to "point" at something, you should use this or that. I'd like to be able to elucidate why "it" works in Swan's example (and it does), but I can't. It just does -- and only "it" works in the sentence you're reading now. Swan's sentence would work fine with "this", too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    I would be glad to see GS's or other members' responses. If Swan's example is natural, does it differ from mine regarding the choice of pronoun?

    And again, I've used 'it' in my question ('does it differ') instead of 'this/that', though they both would fit GS's explanation pointing at 'Swan's example'. Is it just me, or does anybody also agree that 'it' is a better choice here?
    I replaced "it" with "this" in your sentence. "It" didn't work at all there; it's again just mentioning something without telling the reader you're talking about the thing you just said​. When you say something and then immediately refer to it, you will rarely go wrong if you use "this".

    Jutfrank, can you chime in and shed some light on this fraught subject? I'm especially interested in why "it" works fine in Swan's sentence about the pink house, as it clearly does.
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