Imagine a friend of yours is helping you choose clothes for a business interview. He looks at you when you are dressed and thinks that there should be something else on your clothes to make you seem more professional, maybe a bag, an accessory, etc. Which of the following should he say?

It is missing something.
There is something missing.
Something is missing.

They all seem the same to me in meaning. Are they really? If yes, are they all idiomatic?

2 Answers 2


These three sentences are all grammatically correct.

The first sentence probably doesn't suit your context, "it" needs a referent; but, as far as I can understand, you are mentioning that something unknown is missing.

Unless you already mentioned what "it" is in the previous sentence. Example:

A: Why do I have a strange feeling about that painting?

B: I know! It is missing something.

Here, we know that "it" refers to the painting.

The last two sentences mean the same thing. For your context, I would choose the last sentence, it's more fluid.

You could even condense it to:

Something's missing.

  • 4
    ' "it" needs a referent ' Given the context it seems clear to me that that would be the clothes they chose. Because that's what everyone is focused on, regardless of whether it has been mentioned out loud.
    – towr
    Dec 28, 2022 at 14:55

All three options are correct and natural and have similar meanings. However, in the first sentence the personal pronoun "it" should have a referent. The referent could be stated in an earlier sentence, could be something that the speaker is pointing to, etc. (Also, "it is" would usually be contracted.)

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