As far as I know, pronouns such as "it" cannot be modified like "beautiful it". However, from my experience, I have heard native speakers say things like "Enjoy it with your dog", which I believe the pronoun "it" is being modified by prepositional phrases or relative clauses however I am not so sure. So my question is "Is it possible to modify a pronoun such as 'it' with prepositional phrases or relative clauses? I'll list more examples below.

  1. "What is it that you don't understand about the problem"?
  2. "Did you enjoy it at the restaurant?"
  3. "What is it with you!"
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    "It with your dog" is not a syntactic unit, not a constituent. It's a modifier in clause structure, not in NP structure.
    – BillJ
    May 25, 2021 at 5:56
  • I don't find "Enjoy it with your dog" idiomatic, but your other three sentences are perfectly normal. May 25, 2021 at 7:13
  • @KateBunting I don't think there is anything unidiomatic about "Enjoy it with your dog". But even if there is, it is a very close grammatical parallel to expressions such as (the second half of) "We wish you a beautiful Canada Day. Enjoy it with your friends and loved ones" or "The season is here. Enjoy it with your favorite Gold Rum" (examples from Google). I suspect that if someone were in the habit of enjoying things with their dog, we might well say to them "Enjoy it with your dog!".
    – rjpond
    May 25, 2021 at 7:59
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    @rjpond OK - if 'it' refers to something previously mentioned, it does make sense. May 25, 2021 at 8:03
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    I don't think "it" is being modified, though. BillJ is correct.
    – rjpond
    May 25, 2021 at 8:35

1 Answer 1


"It", and all pronouns, are substitutes for nouns. So ask yourself - what is "it"? It must be something either previously referred to, or something both you and the audience will understand.

In your example "enjoy it at the restaurant", I would say "it" means the entire experience. You would likely say this after you had already discussed that the other person is going to the restaurant. They are in effect saying "Enjoy your time at the restaurant".

You can say things about pronouns - for example, on returning from the restaurant you could say "it was lovely". But "it" will always be "it" - there is nothing to 'modify'.

  • Thanks for your comment! So When you say "Enjoy your time at the restarant", I thought "at the restarant" could modify "your time".. but it seems I was wrong haha thanks again:)
    – Karl
    May 25, 2021 at 18:33
  • Not always. We sometimes have expletive" or "dummy" pronouns. "*It's three o'clock." "It is raining." "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...". It has no referent in any of these.
    – BadZen
    Aug 5, 2023 at 20:32

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