My Battle With “It”

by | Sep 10, 2014 | Techniques, Writing

itIt’s a darn shame, doncha think?

So tell me…what does the “it” refer to in the sentence above?

It’s crazy isn’t it?

(same question)

IT” has become the most overused, misunderstood, misused “crutch” word in the English language.

Lately, I’ve been going back through emails, bio’s, letters, news releases, and other written content and expunging “it” from my phraseology.  Officially, “it” is a nominative pronoun.  Mostly, the word  is used to represent an inanimate thing understood, previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the immediate context.  Or used to represent a person or animal understood, previously mentioned, or about to be mentioned whose gender is unknown or disregarded. [].

The problem is, the object, animal, or person previously-or-about-to-be-mentioned is often unclear.  In fact, “it” has come to replace nouns that were never mentioned, nor will be mentioned.  All too often, over-use of “it” can leave a sentence confusing and misleading.  When I proofread my stuff, now, I try to replace “it” with the real noun, person, or object to avoid confusion.

Yeah…so what?

Why should you — as a voice-actor — care about “it”? 

Well, we’re here to interpret the copy, right?…to discern the author’s intent, no?  Then, “it” alla sudden becomes kinda important!  If you don’t understand what the “it” refers to, then won’t you miss the intent, the flow, the meaning?

To prove my point, I just now went to a queue of waiting auditions, and pulled one up at random.  Seriously.  Here’s a word-for-word copy of two sentences in the spot:

Well, it’s much more than a relationship. It means that all of these XXXX share a common belief in the power of XXXX.

In the interest of avoiding a lawsuit, I X’d out a couple of key words.  But did you notice the two “it” words?

I just went to another spot waiting for my dulcet tones:  “It starts with a single step” is one of the lines.

Does it matter what “it” means in these examples?


Go back in the copy and see what the “it” refers to.  Almost every time I do that, the understanding changes my read of the copy.  For the better, I would hope.

“It” is too embedded and entrenched in our spoken and written word to expect the word will fall into oblivion.  “It” is too convenient!

Just make sure when you use “it”,  your intent is still understood, not obfuscated by some tenuous string to any of 3 or more previous nouns, people, or objects.

…and when you come across “it” in audition copy.  Realize that the writer might be using “it” as a crutch, but more often is probably using the word for flow.  Just make sure what “it” relates back to.

It’s crazy, isn’t it?




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