About the Only Time I Use “It”

A common way to write poorly is to use “it” as the subject of a sentence when you decide you’d have to think too hard to come up with a real subject. For example, I could have written, “…when you decide it’s too hard…”

This use of “it” is called a false subject (or dummy pronoun in the comic).

You have to work harder, but your sentences will be clearer and have more punch if you avoid that two-letter monstrosity. (I should add that “there is” is just as bad.)

Of course, I have an exception. You may use “it” when you reference the weather. Hence this XKCD comic:

Hi, I'm your new meteorologist and a former software developer. Hey, when we say 12pm, does that mean the hour from 12pm to 1pm, or the hour centered on 12pm? Or is it a snapshot at 12:00 exactly? Because our 24-hour forecast has midnight at both ends, and I'm worried we have an off-by-one error.

I confess that I sometimes wonder what the domain of that percentage refers to, myself.