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Love the way you lie - An use of "it": a song where you can see it

Maria Regina de Almeida, Especial para a Página 3 Pedagogia & Comunicação

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
But that's alright Because I like the way it hurts

 

This is the beginning of this great song called "Love the way you lie", performed by Rihanna. It's about two persons that love each other and make each other suffer (it never happens, right?). Anyway, it's a good song to show you what many Brazilian students of English miss when writing or speaking - the use of "it" in "hidden" or "neutral" subjects.
 

 

  • Listen to the song
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  • See the lyrics

    In Portuguese, we say: "Dói".

    In English, we can not just say "hurts". That makes no sense. Except for imperative sentences, we always need a subject. And when we don't have one, we use? That's right: "it".

    So, "Dói" = "It hurts".

    Another common example, when we are talking to our business partners or our interchange program colleagues, and we want to say that "está chovendo". How would you say that?

    a) Is raining.

    b) Raining is.

    c) It's raining.

    You got it right if you said c): "It's raining". We need the neutral subject "it" before the verb "to be" ("is").

    The same thing happens if you want to say that "Está frio". How would you say that?

    Would you say: "It is cold" or "Is cold"? Right! If you've answered It is cold!

    Because we could ask ourselves: "What's cold?" And answer: "it" = (the weather).

    Now, try to do this translation exercise and check the answers below:

    1) Está muito frio aqui.
    2) É proibido fumar.
    3) Será um belo dia amanhã.
    4) É difícil acreditar nela.

    And find other examples of this use of "it" in the song:

    See answers clicking here
     
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  • It's important to highlight that "it" is also used as an object pronoun (for things), i.e. after verbs.

    We find one example in the song:

    And I love it the more that I suffer I suffocate And right before I'm about to drown She resuscitates me She fucking hates me And I love it"

    In this case, "it" is substituting the things he loves about their relationship, and therefore doesn't have the same meaning as the "it" as a subject.

    Let's imagine there's a dog playing with a bone. The dog can be substituted by a personal pronoun, "it" and the bone can also be substituted by "it", only this time it takes another name - object pronoun.

    So, we would have :
     
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  • The dog is playing with the bone.
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  • It is playing with it.
  • Maria Regina de Almeida, Especial para a Página 3 Pedagogia & Comunicação tem bacharelato e licenciatura em Língua Inglesa pela Universidade de S. Paulo e faz pós-graduação na mesma área.

    Inglês