I wrote this sentence:

Content extraction is the process of determining what parts of a web page contain the main textual content, thus ignoring irrelevant items such as headers, footers, navigation bars, advertisements, etc. It (or this ?) has application (or applications?) in indexers and text summarizers.

Should I use "this" or "it", in general when I should use "this" after a sentence?


I'll go with it because it refers to aforementioned Content extraction.

Here you can dive into it / this uses:

  • We use it to refer back to things or situations that have just been talked or written about. It does not give any particular emphasis.
  • We use this or that to refer to something with special emphasis – indicating an interesting new fact has been mentioned.
  • It was a useful link, then I think it depends on the next sentence. for example I could say "This is a challenging task" – Ahmad Aug 20 '15 at 12:32
  • 2
    @Ahmad: Note that it in such usages always has to refer back to some specific noun previously mentioned. But this (sometimes, that) can and often does refer back to either the entirety of the preceding sentence, or an "embedded" clause/statement within that sentence. But in your example, both it and this are effectively equivalent. Syntactically I would tend to associate it with the simple NP content extraction, where this might reference either the entire preceding assertion, or the alternative NP the process of determining [blah blah]. – FumbleFingers Aug 20 '15 at 17:28
  • @FumbleFingers Thank you, it was as useful as to be considered an answer, I don't know why sometimes people here prefer to make a comment rather than an answer! – Ahmad Aug 21 '15 at 7:27
  • @Ahmad: As I said, in your specific context it's not easy to identify different possible referents for this/it because the entire preceding sentence equates one "it" with another. So my comment here effectively digresses into other contexts where we could make a meaningful distinction between the thing being talked about ("it"), and some statement made about "it" ("this" [statement]). – FumbleFingers Aug 21 '15 at 12:39
  • @FumbleFingers your point about what "it" and "this" may refer was helpful to me and actually the answer. Then I can decide what I mean by each. – Ahmad Aug 21 '15 at 12:47

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