To one as young as you, I'm sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all - the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.
(Harry Potter)

I guess the second it indicates to die or death, and the first it indicates "Nicolas and Perenelle ~ adventure." I guess "those things" has no its match in the text, but it implies the worst concrete choices one makes in his life. Are these right?

3 Answers 3


It seems to me OP's first "it", like my first one here, is simply the dummy/existential "it" of "It's raining."

Possibly the second one stands for "death", as mentioned in the next sentence. But strictly speaking it refers to whatever was being described in preceding text we haven't got here (which may very well have been writing about "death" anyway, but that's somewhat beside the point).

Including the word those is an entirely optional stylistic choice. It refers only and exactly to "things that are worst for them". It could be omitted, or replaced by, say, the very things..., without changing the meaning in any real sense.


'It' #2 is death/dying. Nicolas and Perenelle are about to die and both have lived very long lives. It is inferred in the text that this death is somewhat voluntary*.

'It' #1 is the fact that two people could see death as being akin to going to bed after a long day. The person being talked is young. He/she thinks that death is something that happens to old people (like most youths) therefore isn't going to happen to him/her. To see dying as a commonplace occurrence is what is incredible.

An itless reword of that sentence would be something like:

To one as young as you, I'm sure the thought of dying as being akin to going to bed after a long day is incredible, but Nicolas and Perenelle do think of death in that way.

The next sentence would then need 'death' replaced with 'it' for readability.

The things in 'those things' is connected to, but does not directly reference 'The two things' mentioned earlier in the sentence. The way the sentence is structured is intended to point out the irony that the 'treasures' of money and long life are not only not good, but are the worst things you could want, without coming right out and saying it. Admittedly, there isn't a lot of added subtlety, but then the books are generally directed at junior to young adult readers.

*: Actually they are in their hundreds, and they have given up the source of their longevity - namely the titular Philosopher's Stone


It refers to the same thing, which is incredible for "one young as you," but "like going to bed after a very, very long day" for "Nicolas and Perenelle." Normally, in the same sentence the same pronoun refers is not used for two different objects/subjects to avoid ambiguity.

When a pronoun is used, it is generally used for something previously said, not something said after. There are cases where it could refer to something successively said, such as in "she found it interesting to learn about their strategy."


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