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An example:

Alice: I've been to a vet. My cat has a tumor.

Bob: Don't worry. If it's not malignant, it will be fine.

Carmen: Are you sure this cake recipe is correct.

Daniel: My grandmother gave it to me, I'm sure it will taste great.

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  • Why close? Why not explain?
    – Xanne
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 15:34
  • Everything like this is context related and whether the speakers know the context. It is not grammar.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 16:05
  • @Lambie this wasn't a question about grammar but about writing style, the sort of things you would lose points for when writing a short story for an English class (for English natives). I'm not sure why it was moved from english to ell. Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 18:10
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    It was moved because it is too obvious. I know it isn't about grammar. That's what I said. Actually, it will be fine may not only refer to the cat, it can also mean: the situation [for the cat] will be fine and would be a dummy pronoun.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 18:47
  • And it seems to me you have good enough English to know that: If it's not malignant, it will be fine. would be better as: If it's not malignant, the cat will be fine.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 18:47

2 Answers 2

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Context is everything. The simple answer to this question is no, it's not always and automatically an error to use the same pronoun word twice in one sentence to refer to different antecedents. But you have to check whether your meaning is clear or not and avoid creating "garden-path sentences" or ambiguity. For instance: "The cat is in the garden. It's sad because it's wet." Well, it's pretty clear that the garden isn't sad, but it's not quite clear whether the cat is dismayed because it is wet itself, or simply because the garden is.

The meaning is clear enough in the examples you gave, even if the antecedent isn't totally clear. In "If it's not malignant, it will be fine," the second it could refer to the cat, or also to a sort of "universal it," meaning "this situation in general will be fine." In fact, this could also be an interpretation of my cat/garden sentence, since "it's wet" can be a statement about the weather. Both with the vet and the garden, these interpretations don't really significantly change the outcome or the general meaning, so they're not problematic. Similarly, in the cake-recipe conversation, Carmen could even have left the word "cake" out of her question and the response would make sense because it's understood and implied.

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  • Oh look, context is everything. :)
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 18:48
  • @Lambie Maybe I should just make it my username! Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 18:51
  • Sounds good to me, and I can be: Resistance is futile. [haha]
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 18:52
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It refers to one noun. By making it a plural possessive (it's) you are referring to an object belonging to the noun. If your sentence includes two nouns that may be mentioned as "it", be more clear.

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    it's isn't plural or possessive.
    – KillingTime
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 14:28

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