I saw this sentence in a book:

After an object is assigned to a variable, VBA can access it more quickly than it can a normal, lengthy reference that has to be resolved.

There are two questions about the sentence above:

  1. What does the second it refer to?
  2. Is the access between it and a deleted? And after deleting access, is the sentence still right?


  • "It can a normal, lengthy reference that has to be resolved" is a comparative clause functioning as complement of "than". Like all comparative clauses, it is reduced in some way relative to the structure of a main clause. In your example, the word "access" is omitted, though understood.
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 10:48
  • @Lambie Thanks. I corrected it now.
    – Y. zeng
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 5:13

1 Answer 1


The second "it" refers to VBA. There is no grammar rule, this is purely based on the meaning.

The word "access" is deleted. The reader is supposed to insert this after "can": "...than it can access a normal...". This is correct grammar.

With that reading it should be clear why "it" must refer to VBA, since VBA is the actor that accesses things. So when you read "it can" you understand that "VBA can (access) a normal..."

  • The two its refer two different things, which is a little confusing. As you said, the after deleting the second access, the sentence is sill right. So, why not delete the second can too?
    – Y. zeng
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 8:06
  • 1
    That is an interesting question of grammar to which I don't know the answer. It's probably because "access" is lexical, but "can" is modal.
    – James K
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 9:10

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