Just as the title says, would it be correct to use “它” in a sentence like this "它在外面下雪了." or I could just say "在外面下雪了"?

  • it would definitely be wrong, "it was snowing outside" is OP's 2nd choice, see grammar on subjectless sentences, especially those indicating weather conditions
    – user6065
    Oct 31 '17 at 21:26
  • 1
    "It is snowing outside" in Chinese is just "外面正在下雪" ( snowing outside)
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 31 '17 at 21:31

The "it" in "it is snowing" does not refer to anything. It is there because a subject is needed in a declarative sentence in English. Chinese, however, is different in that subjectless declarative sentences are perfectly fine. When we try to translate a sentence such as "it is snowing", it's best to simply ignore the "it". You won't lose anything semantically.

It is snowing. 下雪了.

It is snowing outside. 外面下雪了.


It's not correct.
The correct sentence is


In Chinese, as in some other European languages, weather verbs have zero valency, which means that they take no arguments, neither object nor subject. Therefore you must omit .

  • 什么时候在房子里下雪?。为什么不说‘下雪’?:-)如果也说’外面‘,你还认为’下雪‘是’零价‘的?
    – Pedroski
    Oct 31 '17 at 22:51
  • 《外面》是处所补语,跟述语配价无关
    – blackgreen
    Oct 31 '17 at 23:08
  • 如果是这样的为什么用来?你如何定义’述语‘了吗?
    – Pedroski
    Nov 1 '17 at 8:58

In English, 'it' refers to 'weather' in "it's snowing outside."

In Chinese, we interpret this 'it' as '天', since 天 could refer to 天气(weather) in this setting.

We say:

(外面)天正在下雨 // it's raining outside

(外面)天正在下雪 // it's snowing outside

(外面)天正在刮风 // it's windy outside

今天,天(气/儿)很好! // today, the whether is good!

However, 天 could be omitted most of time. They will become:

外面正在下雨 // it's raining outside

外面正在下雪 // it's snowing outside

外面正在刮风 // it's windy outside

今天,天(气/儿)很好! // in this case, 天 can not be omitted. Otherwise, there is no clue for what subject is being talked.

Your issue with 它在外面下雪了 is:

  1. you should replace 它 with 天。

  2. 外面 is used as adv or adj, so 外面 itself is ok. No need 在.

  3. the sentence order; you could consider 外面 as 外面(的)天, so 天(S) + 下雪(V)+ 了(C) . 外面(的) serves as an adj. to modify 天. So, either 外面(的)天下雪了 or 外面下雪了 works.

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