1

here will be nobody else. No formalities are necessary, you know. It will be a good idea if you drop by my office around six o'clock on Friday so that we may both go to my place together.

I wonder whether the pronoun "it" in the sentence "it will be a good idea" could be replaced with the pronoun "that"? And in this sentence what does the pronoun "it" refer to?

2

No formalities are necessary, you know. It will be a good idea if you drop by my office around six o'clock on Friday so that we may both go to my place together.

It is so-called "dummy" or "expletive" it. It acts a placeholder, as a proxy subject. This structure using it divides a simple subject-verb-complement utterance

Dropping by my office around six o'clock on Friday will be a good idea.

into two pieces, in order to put some emphasis on the first piece:

It will be a good idea | if you drop by my office around six o'clock on Friday.

The speaker is making a suggestion, although in a somewhat circuitous manner. Paraphrase: You should come to my office...

If you wanted to substitute that for it, you would have to change the order of the clauses, since that as demonstrative pronoun refers to something already mentioned or present:

If you come to my office around six o'clock on Friday, that would be a good idea.

Dummy / placeholder it as proxy subject can anticipate the actual semantic subject. Demonstrative pronoun that must refer back to one.

These are colloquial statements which strike a casual tone.

  • Thanks. I totally got it. Your explanation is beautiful. – anotherworld Mar 7 '17 at 3:21
1

Keep the 'it', that is fine.

I would change the 'it will be a good idea' to 'it would be a good idea', as it is a conditional.

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