It and this are both used to talk about something that has been mentioned previously or is clearly identified by the reader. They are both used to refer back to both nouns, and verbs.
Although similar, it and this are not synonyms. There are a few differences between them. Let’s first look at some example sentences using either it or this:
Here are some examples of it:
- The car is new. I bought it.
It refers to the noun, car, in the previous sentence.
- You shouldn’t run on ice. It is dangerous.
It is referring to the action of running on ice.
Examples of how to use this:
- You cheated on your Math’s test. This is unacceptable.
We know that this is referring to the action of cheating in the past sentence.
- “This pipe is plastic,” he said, holding up the piece of pipe.
This is used to specify the pipe he is holding in his hand.
An explanation of it vs. this
It (impersonal pronoun)
It is an impersonal third-person pronoun. We use it for singular or uncountable non-human objects.
- The pencil is red. It is red.
It replaces “the pencil.” In some sentences, the item it is referring to is difficult or impossible to identify, this is called a “dummy it.” This is most often used for statements and facts.
- It is cold today.
- Take it easy!
We cannot tell what is cold or what exactly must be taken easily. In these sentences, it has no exact meaning. It can be both a subject:
- It is cold today.
And, an object:
- I can’t find it.
Like other pronouns, we use it when the noun has already been made clear to the listener or reader.
- Don’t use the blue pen. It is leaking.
We know that they’re talking about the blue pen. Unlike this, “it” does not have any specific time or place attached to the word and can point to an object in any location.
This (determiner, pronoun, adverb and more …)
In contrast, this specifically points to something that is located within a close distance to the subject. This isn’t only a pronoun either, it can be many things. Here are some ways we use the word this:
As an adverb, this often points to an experienced level of intensity. I.e. this hard, this easy, this quick.
- I can’t believe riding a horse is this easy.
When used as a determiner, this identifies things that are close to the subject.
- May I have this last piece of pizza?
This (demonstrative adjective)
We use demonstrative adjectives to modify nouns so others know exactly which one we are talking about. When we use this as an adjective, the listener or reader knows exactly what we’re talking about.
- He’s not getting away this!
This (demonstrative pronoun)
Lastly, this can be a demonstrative pronoun, replacing a noun.
- This is how you dance the Cha Cha.