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Dear teachers,

- Is the word "foodstuff" quite informal in English or can it be used in academic English?

- Is the sentence “Give me thread.” correct or should I say « give me some thread » instead?

- In the following sentence how would you analyse the second "IT"? Is it a kind of demonstrative pronoun?

"It was dark out there, and I couldn't really tell who IT was creeping about."

Would you please explain this particular type of construction?

All the best,
Hela
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Hela how would you analyse the second "IT"?

I think we've already 'analyzed' it here: meaning & use of "IT"

(unless you don't call that analysis).
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Hello Hela

1. I'm more used to hearing "foodstuffs". I would happily use it in an academic context.

2. "Give me thread" is ok; but either brusque or vague, depending on the context. Your interlocutor might thrust an entire reel of thread into your hand. The second version would be more usual.

3. The sentence suggests an earlier question-to-self: "Who is it, in the dark, creeping about?" Answer: "I don't know who it is, creeping about." Later: "I couldn't tell who it was, creeping about."

MrP
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Thank you very much, MrP. Emotion: smile

Now in my question:

"In the following sentence how would you analyse the second "IT"? Is it a kind of demonstrative pronoun?
"It was dark out there, and I couldn't really tell who IT was creeping about."
Would you please explain this particular type of construction?
"

Do you think that "IT" here is part of a cleft sentence and this is why it might be considered as a demonstrative pronoun ?

Sorry to bother you with my long-lasting questions.

Hela
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I dont think it was a cleft sentence. a cleft sentence uses to emphasize one part of a sentence. for example, it was John that my aunt took to Disney.

We use " it " to refer to a person when we are identify him or her.

who is was creeping about ? It is John.
(A knock on the door)

Mr. Ko: Who is it?

(No answers. Mr. Ko opens the door and finds no one at the door, so he closes it. A little later, he hears another knock on the door.)

Mr. Ko: Who is it?

(Again, he opens the door and finds no one out there. A minute later he hears yet another knock.)

Mr. Ko: Who is it, knocking the door again and again?

...........................

Put in an indirect question, the last sentence above will be something like:

I really can't tell who it is, knocking the door again and again.

Rather than considering 'it' part of a cleft sentence structure, I'd see it as a demonstrative pronoun.

However, if you add 'that is,' the sentence will be:
I really can't tell who it is that is knocking the door again and again. (Still makes sense, wordy as it is.)

In this case, the functional status of 'it' becomes ambiguous, at least to me. Would it be part of a cleft sentence going together with its partner 'that', or just a demonstrative pronoun, with 'that' being viewed as a relative pronoun whose referent is 'who'? I am not so sure.