Could someone confirm what the word 'it' refers to in the following sentence?

Put the red ball under the table and look at it.

Am I correct in thinking that 'it' refers to the red ball and not the table? How would you structure the sentence if you wanted 'it' to refer to the table, and is there ever any ambiguity in this? In other words, is there ever a time where 'it' could refer to either of the nouns?

1 Answer 1


Though it obviously refers to the ball, not the table for many people, technically this sentence might still be interpreted otherwise (look at the table), so it is ambiguous. If you want to keep the pronoun and remove ambiguity, then move it into the right context, perhaps like this:

Look at the red ball after you put it under the table.


Look at the table after you put the red ball under it.

  • It's not completely obvious that it refers to the ball. It seems to be a natural assumption, but it doesn't necessarily make logical sense. If you put the ball under the table, it's possible you will no longer be able to see it, making it impossible to "look at it" once it's been placed there, since the table will block the view of the ball. Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 15:26

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