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Just What Is a Dummy Subject? The Truth Revealed!

What exactly is a dummy subject?

The question that’s on everyone’s mind! A dummy subject (also called empty or artificial) is a pronoun that has no meaning by itself but fills the position of a normal subject.

The three most common are it, there, and this, and even though they have no meaning on their own, they are used to begin clauses all the time.  

How can I spot these empty pronouns?

The giveaway of an empty subject is that the true subject of a sentence will come after the verb. Let’s look at an example:

A cute dog was in the window.

This is the typical format of a statement, but it can be reversed…

There was a cute dog in the window.

This reversal of verb and true subject, combined with “there” being at the beginning, show us that we have an artificial pronoun.

Why would I use a dummy pronoun?

There are three main reasons why a writer would wish to include one:

1. To turn a sentence fragment into a complete thought

Fragment: Two friends having lunch.

Complete thought:

There are two friends having lunch.

2. To refer to time, weather, and existence


It is 2 o’clock in the afternoon.


It is cloudy right now, and there is a storm coming.


There are more topics to discuss, but this is a good rule to follow.

3. To place the true subject at the end of a statement


Being frugal is important.


It is important to be frugal.

Can I turn any statement into a sentence containing an empty subject?

Most sentences can be flipped from the SVO format to VSO using this technique.

SVO: A huge hawk flew overhead!

VSO: There flew a huge hawk overhead!

However, imperatives/commands do not need a subject, so there is no reason to add a dummy.

Incorrect: It is please do the dishes. X

✅ Correct: Please do the dishes.

The corporate world is filled with expressions, specialized vocab words, and various acronyms.

You probably already know some of the classics like ASAP and FYI, but have you come across the more advanced ones below?

And more importantly, do you know how to use them?

1. OOO

Stands for… Out of office

Meaning: When someone is out of office, it means they are temporarily not available to work due to being on vacation or another type of leave.

Relatedly, out-of-office messages are set as automatic replies to emails/phone calls to let everyone know that one is not currently available.


Employees have been instructed to set up OOO responses.

2. ROI

Stands for… Return on investment

Meaning: Usually expressed as a percentage, ROI is a numerical measure of the success of a financial investment. If the return is positive, a profit was made. On the other hand, a negative ROI means that a portion of money was lost.

Example: The ROI of my stock portfolio is at a modest 6%.


Stands for… To be announced/To be confirmed

Meaning: Sometimes an event or product release is planned but not completely fleshed out in terms of schedule. When this happens, TBA and TBC are used to announce that something is coming but does not have a fixed date or time yet.


The clothing line is set to launch, but the exact date is TBA/TBC.

4. WFH

Stands for… Work(ing) from home

Meaning: With the rise of remote work, this term has become much more popular over the last few years. Working from home is exactly what it sounds like: Getting tasks done at home rather than commuting to an office each day.


If necessary, would you feel comfortable WFH?

5. HQ

Stands for… Headquarters

Meaning: Most large firms and corporations have locations in multiple cities, but their headquarters are considered the main office and administrative center of the entire company.


Many tech companies have their HQ in Silicon Valley.

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