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Plural of " It "

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by Novich, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Novich Senior Member

    Castellano, Argentina
    Is they the plural form of it ?



    e.g. Are computer games bad for our heath? computer games = they ????
     
  2. Gabriel Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Argentina / Español
    Yes, it's "they" as a personal pronoun and "them" as an object pronoun:

    What is this? / What are these?
    It is a pen. / They are pens.

    I'll throw you this ball. Grab it. / I'll throw you these balls. Grab them.
     
  3. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    When "it" is the subject of the sentence then the plural is "they".

    When "it" is the object of the sentence then the plural is "them.

    (cross-posted with Gabriel)
     
  4. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    It's interesting that we have a gender-neutral and non-human pronoun for singular nouns, but not for plural nouns, in which case we use the same pronouns that we use for humans.

    When my sister fell, I caught her.
    When my dog fell, I caught it.
    When my sisters fell, I caught them.
    When my dogs fell, I caught them.

    English is strange.
     
  5. MeLlamoGodzilla Junior Member

    Indiana
    English
    Yes.

    An example would be that my friends are going to invite some other people to a party.

    "They (my friends) are going to invite them to the party."

    Another example would be if my friend asks me if I like cats.

    "Yes, I like them. They are cute and cuddly."
     
  6. horsewishr

    horsewishr Senior Member

    Michigan (USA)
    English (Generic Midwest Variety)
    You know, I tell my friends who are learning English that only animal-haters use "it" to refer to pets. ;) My dog is a "him," not an it. ;)
     
  7. Gabriel Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Argentina / Español
    Not really, unless you consider that it's also interesting that you have a gender-sensitive set of human singular pronoun, but not in plural:
    I'd say that the singular pronouns are gender and nature specific but the plural pronoun is universal. It's sort of coherent within its own logic.

    When my sister fell, I caught her.
    When my brother fell, I caught him.
    When my do fell, I caught it.
    When my sisters fell, I caught them.
    When my brothers fell, I caught them.
    When my dogs fell, I caught them.
     
  8. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    An animal that has a name and a known gender is usually referred to by its gender.
     
  9. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    Yeah, I have friends who think their dogs are human.

    But more seriously, I believe the rule of thumb is that any animal may be referred to as "it," or a gender pronoun may be used if you want to treat the animal with more, er, humanity.
     
  10. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    I'm concerned that we may be getting way off-topic by discussing gender when the original question is specifically about 'it' and even more specifically about computer games! :p

    Returning to the question:

    This computer game is fun - I like it. It is the best I have ever played.

    These computer games are fun - I like them. They are the best I have ever played.

    ______________________________________________________________________
    With regard to gender, I agree with the others that when talking about pets, 'it' should only refer to an animal whose gender is unknown to the speaker/writer. However the same is true for babies and indeed adult humans!

    Example
    Who is coming?
    I don't know - I can't see who it is.
    Is it a man or a woman?
    I can't tell.

    When speaking of wild animals the convention is different.
    Example
    See that female rabbit?
    Yes.
    What's it doing?
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  11. Wildcat1 Senior Member

    Amer. English
    I don't think the above "it" has anything to do with failure to know whether a given person is male or female. Suppose you and I invite several male friends to dinner. The above conversation would be equally natural:
    As the first person arrives, you might say:
    Who is that in the driveway?
    I don't know - I can't see who it is.
    Is it Joe or Bill?
    I can't tell.


    You would not say, "Is he Joe or Bill?" even though you know the personal is male.
     
  12. Novich Senior Member

    Castellano, Argentina
    Thank you guys! :)
     
  13. Gabriel Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Argentina / Español
    I know the likely answer to that question!
     
  14. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    Yes, they do spend much of their time eating.
     

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