In the sentence "It is raining" what is 'it'?

Australia
April 22, 2008 8:52pm CST
What does the 'it' mean? I've kind of wondered about this in the past but I stumbled across an expanation for it courtesy of www.askoxford.com. Here it is: There is nothing wrong with sentences of this type. Grammar books give different names to it: the Oxford English Grammar by Sidney Greenbaum calls it prop it. The pronoun it has four uses: referring, anticipatory, cleft and prop ... Prop it (or empty it) is used to fill the place of a required function - generally the subject - but has little or no meaning. It is particularly frequent in expressions referring to weather and time: It's really hot in here It's a bit late now Prop it also occurs in functions other than as subject, including some idiomatic expressions: She insisted on going it alone I'm just taking it easy
5 people like this
11 responses
@Rosekitty (19396)
• San Marcos, Texas
23 Apr 08
Coffeeshot.. I decided to see what everything sounds like with out "IT" Raining! Really Hot in here A Bit late now She insisted on going alone I'm just easy... Everything sounds so different and kinda changes the meaning.. But never thought of IT before and how much we use IT!..LOL
3 people like this
• United States
23 Apr 08
Coffeeshot that is really interesting. I have nver thought about the word "IT". But it is kinda like the proverbial word "they" They say its good for you. I have always wondered who are they? Where did they come from. Where do they live? LMAO....
2 people like this
@sedel1027 (17851)
• United States
23 Apr 08
I was always taught to avoid using "it" unless you are actually referring to an object, not something imaginary. So to me, "It is raining" is incorrect. If I was editing a book or grading a paper, that would definitely need to be corrected.
2 people like this
@CatsandDogs (13964)
• United States
23 Apr 08
For me, it would mean the sky. Such as the sky is raining but since we already know it's the sky is why we say it. That's my explaination anyway.
2 people like this
@youdontsay (3503)
• United States
23 Apr 08
Interesting! Thanks. I love this kind of stuff. I guess that is why I was an English major.
2 people like this
@whittby (3073)
• United States
23 Apr 08
Well, this is just interesting and I mean it. I love these little bits of knowledge. I never thought of this at all until you mentioned it of course. English classes didn't go into this depth. I love words and usage - every now and then a friend will mention a word and we will discuss meaning and when and where. I take it you enjoy this as well.
1 person likes this
@digerati (287)
• Philippines
10 Jun 08
hello coffeeshot, wow, i do not know that.. thanks for the info... digerati
• India
23 Apr 08
It is raining are the sentence used to express some thing that is present inside . . . It may be happy or sorrow or joyfull pain so you can put the feeling that comes to mind and express it as it is raining . . . One thing you can understand the meaning of it because yours feeling is within you but when you express to some one the meaning should be expressed by telling what exactly you want to say . . Yup
@jamie08 (430)
• United States
23 Apr 08
hmmm.... interesting i never really thought about it
• United States
23 Apr 08
I wasnt a grammer expert so thats probally why i never wondered what the "it" was in sentences like that. thanks for the lesson, i came out of mylot smarter once again LOL
@faith210 (11233)
• Philippines
23 Apr 08
Hi coffeeshot! Therefore in your explanation, "it" refers to weather and time. Thanks for the detailed clarification. It is nice to know simple truths and knowledge like this that we most of the time taken for granted. Just my thoughts dear friend! Take care and have a nice day!