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We had a BBQ on the weekend. It/that was great.

Which should be used, it or that? Why?

When should I use 'it' and when should I use 'that'

Thanks you.
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We had a BBQ on the weekend. It/that was great.

Which should be used, it or that? Why?

When should I use 'it' and when should I use 'that'


I would use "it" without thinking about it. But I believe both are correct. So I really can't say why you would one over the other.

If you said,

We had a BBQ on the weekend.

1) It was great weekend. Sounds perfectly natural to me.

2) That was a great weekend. Again, sounds perfectly natural to me.

Sentence 2) has a slightly more emphatic feeling to me. If when you are speaking you can-if you choose to-emphasize "that" more easily than you can "it".

Tttthhhhhaaaaaattttttt was a great weekend.

If you dropped the "weekend," they both still sound okay.

I'd be curious to see what others say.
Thanks Mountainhiker.

That is quite helpful, but I am still in need of some "rules" to govern the usage of 'it' vs 'that' in such cases.

I've thought about it and I can't really come up with any.

Any other thoughts - anyone?
I could be wrong (and probably am), but since "that" is a demonstrative pronoun, wouldn't it be technically incorrect to use it as a subject? I mean, I use it all the time as a subject, but I don't think it's correct. Oh well...

Giving you the kind of rules I go by...I'd probably say "that was great" only if the person was there with you and also experienced it, and it JUST happened within the last couple of minutes. Otherwise, I'd say "it" was great. Also, if the sentence by said, "I know you liked the barbecue you went to this weekend, but the barbecue I went to this weekend, now that was great!" "That" works in that particular situation, but I'm with MountainHiker. I'd use "it" in that situation without even thinking about it.

As long as the person knows ahead of time what you're talking about, I think "that" would be ok as the subject in every day use. Even if the person says, "How was the barbecue this weekend?" I would still say, "It was great."

I hope that helps.
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Thanks Haoglide,

As you have both indicated, 'that' is specific ... 'that' BBQ as opposed perhaps to some other BBQ. So maybe using 'that' with nothing to compare 'that' to would sound strange. Yes?

Could it somehow be related to the concept of the 'empty subject'? If so, can anyone explain this concept further please.

Thanks to all.
"this", "that", "it" at the beginning of a sentence.

"this" and "that" can refer to an entire situation. They are often used when the conversation begins. The people talking know from the situation what "this" or "that" refers to. "this" is used when the situation is happening or is about to happen. "that" is used when the situation has already happened.

You use "that" at the beginning of your comment about a situation presented by your conversation partner.

"it" usually refers to the same thing that another noun (already said in the conversation) refers to. "it" continues from what was already said. Using "it" at the beginning of a conversation (when it refers to some other noun) is really not logical, because your conversation partner won't know what you are talking about. [This is not the same as the "it" in "It's raining" or "It's impossible", because in these cases, the "it" does not refer to anything previously mentioned.]
______

Note all the uses of "this", "that" and "it" in the following examples.
--- indicates that another person has started talking in a conversation.

Frank and Karen were laughing and having a really good time at the BBQ. "Isn't this great?", Karen exclaimed. "I wish we could do this more often."

Frank and Karen left the BBQ. Getting into the car, Frank said, "That was great, wasn't it?"

"We had a BBQ on the weekend. It was great."

--- "We had a BBQ this weekend!"
--- "That's great. Did you enjoy it?"

--- "We had a BBQ this weekend!"
--- "That's nice. Did you have a good time?"
__________

Sitting in the concert hall, the man next to Patrick, obviously enjoying the music, leaned over and whispered to him, "Isn't this great?!"

On leaving the concert hall, Patrick saw several members of the band hurrying out the stage door. He waved and shouted, "Thanks, guys! That was awesome!"

"Patrick attended the concert. It was great."
__________

Mr. Winston looked at all the clothes in the department store. He was about to buy a lot of new clothes and was worried about how much it would cost. After he had looked at all the price tags, he thought, "This is going to be expensive!"

Mr. Winston walked out of the department store where he had just bought a new jacket, two pairs of pants, five shirts, and a belt. As he walked to his car, he looked at the sales slip. "Wow! That was expensive!" he thought.

"Mr. Winston bought a new jacket. It was very expensive."

--- "I bought a new jacket."
--- "That's interesting. Was it on sale?"
__________

After I ran away from the burning car and reached safety, I thought, "That was awful."

"I was in a car accident this weekend. It was awful."

--- "I was in a car accident this weekend."
--- "That's awful. Were you hurt?"
_________

When I looked at the scales and saw that I had gained three pounds, I said, "This is terrible."

"I gained three pounds this weekend. It was really disappointing."

--- "I gained three pounds this weekend."
--- "That's too bad. You were doing so well with your diet."
Jim,

I have grasped the idea of 'this/that/it' naturally since I started to learn English. I have never ever read such an elaborated analysis in my life. I should like to say how grateful I am for your detailed explanation. It is very useful for ESL/EFL teachers and learners because you provide excellent examples which ease understanding. This/that/it could be very difficult when it comes to 'abstrat idea' rather than simple demonstrative pronoun, for example, this is a good forum.

Let me say thank you agian.

Pastel
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