Which pronoun: it, this or that?
We use it, this and that ,(in plural they, these and those) to refer to something we have already mentioned. Often more than one of them is correct in the context. However:
- We use it when we are not making any emphasis
E.g.: The participants found the introduction to the IELTS rather useful. It helps them to understand what they need to prepare before they decide to sit for the examination.
- This and that are more emphatic in drawing attention to the thing just mentioned
E.g.: A new system of tagging was devised, and this gave the researchers a much better picture of birds’ migration patterns.
- Besides that, this is often used when:
1 We still have something more to say about the thing we are referring to
E.g: We’ve recommended opening an office in Belgium. This will be discussed at the Board meeting next month.
Many of our staff have been off sick this month. This has meant that we have fallen behind our orders.
2 We refer to the second of the two things mentioned in the previous sentence. Compare the following examples to see the difference.
The severe drought has resulted in a poor harvest. This has led to famine in certain parts of the country.
The severe drought has resulted in a poor harvest. It has also affected the livestock.
- We often use that in conditional sentences
It would be good to experience both lifestyles if that were possible.
- That is often used when giving reasons
E.g.: The children spent all day in front of the television and that‘s why we decided to throw it away.
- Note: We also use this, these, those, such + collective noun/ noun phrase to refer back to something previously mentioned
E.g.: The children showed courage and compassion during the experiment. These qualities were considered unusual for students of such a young age.
The public feel that the new law is impractical and illogical. Such criticisms are seriously affecting the enforcement and implementation process.