They mean two totally different things so whether they are grammatically correct is dependent upon what you want them to mean. 1. Around this time--something happened in the past and is being repeated at very close to the time it is when you say it.

What does "it is" refer to in this sentence? Would it be grammatically incorrect to structure this sentence like:

.....and is being repeated at very close to the time when you say it.

Would it change the meaning of the sentence to omit the it is part?


The key part of the sentence is:

the time IT IS when you say it.

This refers to the time at which you say something. In English, the way we refer to time is a little strange, compared to some other languages - in English, the time just "is". So, we could say "what is the time?", but another phrase that means exactly the same is "what time is it?", without really explaining what "it" is. So, "the time it is" means the current time.

In this sentence, that's what you're seeing. The phrase "the time it is" refers to the time at that moment. It could have been written as "the time when you say it". The extra "it is" may have been included to be particularly specific about the time, or it might just be a habit in their way of speaking.

  • This time-related "it" resembles the weather-related "it". When I say "it is raining" or "it is 7:00", I'm using a dummy subject. The "it" doesn't refer to anything. I just need some word to fill that function in the clause. Dec 7 '18 at 15:59
  • @GaryBotnovcan That's kind of what I mean - the fact that there is this common construct in English where we need a dummy word to fill a spot in the sentence that has no particular purpose. In some languages, you can only phrase it as "what is the time?" or something roughly equivalent to that; "what time is it?" (or the closest literal translation of that) would be invalid because "it" is ill-defined. English is interesting in that it allows this sort of thing (and yes, I know other languages do too; eg. "quelle heure est-il?" in French, "wieviel Uhr ist es?" in German). Dec 7 '18 at 16:42
  • Yep. I wasn't arguing, I was amplifying. OP was looking for the pronoun's antecedent, expecting the word to have a referent as it usually does. Regarding time and weather, looking for what the word "it" represents often just doesn't end well. I thought it was worthwhile to draw the parallel and offer an easy-to-Google label for the semantically empty reference. Dec 7 '18 at 17:13

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