Extra Its

The unnecessary insertion of the pronoun it into sentences came out of nowhere a few years back, and the reason remains a mystery. Perhaps it’s a spillover from the “more equals better” mindset responsible for modern-day excessiveness (think the humongous portions piled onto plates in restaurant after restaurant). Or maybe somebody noticed a normally well-spoken person using an extraneous it on television, then followed suit in a tweet or youtube video that went viral.

In any case, by the time various men and women delivered the following utterances on the tube, the stray it (almost always confined to speech) had gained more and more of a foothold. Those aforementioned folks happen to be, in order, the founder of one of the leading online newsletters; a bestselling author: an unidentified stringer reporting from Libya; a filmmaker; a convicted lobbyist who served time: a U. S. Senator; and a talking head frequently seen on cable TV. WTF?*

  • Is it better for the Democrats to pass a bill that they’re going to have to fight for it?
  • Santorum is talking about his faith, which he passionately believes in it.
  • That’s going to a place we can barely even fathom it.
  • When we found how interesting it was, we just starting filming everything we came upon it.
  • Or I thought people would attack the book in ways I couldn’t defend it.
  • If they say, “Chuck, I can’t understand the bill you’ve introduced it,” then…
  • And this you have to hand it to them…

Bonus written example! It may be a gratuitous them instead of an it, but it’s still a prose-cluttering extra pronoun. The following sentence appeared in a Huffington Post article bearing the byline of an Oscar-winning film director.

  • But Hollywood does address the importance of telegenic (TV friendly) political figures, of which Obama is one of them. 

April 2013 update. It’s quickly becoming apparent that the traditional grammatical bugbear known as the double negative is joining hands with a twenty-first century equivalent: the double-down pronoun – to wit, it. So  take your pick of interjections conveying a degree of dismay: Alas! Egad! Oh dear! Goodness gracious! Jeepers! We think we’ll just go with Ouch!

*What the fuss?

2 Responses to Extra Its

  • LaDonna says:

    This drives me crazy! Don’t hold back, tell us who the guilty parties are.

  • Fred says:

    LaDonna: Six months later, I’ve decided I may dole out the names in drips and drabs. The convicted lobbyist talking about his book was Jack Abramoff, whose apologia titled Capitol Punishment was released in November 2011.

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