When someone, for example, reads a book or watches a movie, and they say:

"It was a good movie" or "It was a good reading"

Are these kinds of sentences a dummy-it or just an "it" being used to refer to a noun, in these cases, the movie that was watched and the book read?

And by the way, I should always use a subject unless the subject is implied like in the imperative mood, right?

I just wanted to check this after reading this article of Thought.co, https://www.thoughtco.com/dummy-it-in-grammar-1690414

  • 1
    It seems like you haven't understood the article. "Dummy it refers to nothing at all; it simply serves a grammatical function. In other words, dummy it has a grammatical meaning but no lexical meaning." Here, there are clear meanings and referents: a movie and a reading. (Note, "a reading" usually means a passage that is read, like in a worship service or as a homework assignment. If we want to say that we enjoyed reading a book, the idiom is "It was a good read.") Dec 12, 2023 at 19:25
  • Meanwhile, "And by the way, I should always use a subject unless the subject is implied like in the imperative mood, right?" —I don't quite understand this question, and it seems like a separate one; maybe open it separately. Dec 12, 2023 at 19:27
  • Thanks for answering and the tip about a good read; the other question was just to confirm whether I could use sentences where "it" acts as subject without its presence or with its presence.
    – Sunless
    Dec 12, 2023 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


When said in the context you describe, “It was a good movie” does not use a dummy it. The it has for antecedent the movie that has been watched and is being discussed.

An example of a sentence with a dummy it is It was nearly midnight when the movie ended.

  • In this case, it is being used as a dummy it to talk about weather, right
    – Sunless
    Dec 12, 2023 at 19:45
  • It’s talking about the time of day (or night). You can tell it’s a dummy because it would be nonsensical to ask in reply, “What was nearly midnight?” Dec 12, 2023 at 19:48
  • Thanks, just, one more question, is it wrong to use sentences like that without the presence of it?
    – Sunless
    Dec 12, 2023 at 19:51
  • Sentences like what? *Was nearly midnight is not a valid English sentence. Nor, if you wish to know the hour, is it valid to ask, *”What time is?” Nor indeed to enquire about the weather by asking, *”Is raining?” Dec 12, 2023 at 19:55
  • Yeah, I get what you mean. Thanks a lot, to be honest, I just saw this concept a while ago and since then my mind has been puzzled.
    – Sunless
    Dec 12, 2023 at 19:59

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