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If this gets out, they will be fined.

If it gets out, they will be fined.

What's the difference between them? I suppose that "this" could be "this information", but "it" - "this document". Right?

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"It" is singular, and always refers to something previously mentioned. So, consider what comes before this statement. Is there a singular thing - a fact, or a story, or an event - that you are referring to?

"This" is also singular, but it can be used to collect things that are not already collected - for example, you could highlight a number of different items and say "all this".

So, if you have previously spoken about various different details that have not been referred to by a single collective term, then "this" might be more appropriate.

Examples:

This story is shocking. If it gets out, there'll be trouble.

In this example, 'it' refers back to the 'story', which is singular, even though it may contain many different details.

I've heard what has been happening. If this gets out, there'll be trouble.

Here, there is only reference to 'what has been happening', which could be lots of different things over a period of time. Because there is no collective term, 'this' seems appropriate.

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