If you like Stephen King, you might choose to practice your Spanish by reading some of his novels in translation. You could read El resplandor (“The Shining”), Ojos de fuego (“Firestarter”), La cúpula (“Under the Dome”), or—It. Amazingly, this basic word (the 10th most frequent in English, according to the Corpus of Contemporary American English) lacks a direct Spanish translation. How is “it” possible?
For one thing, Spanish avoids the vacuous it subjects seen in English sentences like It’s raining or It’s impossible. Spanish simply drops the subject, saying Llueve and Es imposible. This goes along with the general Spanish tendency to eliminate subject pronouns, using verb endings instead to say who did something, e.g. Hablo vs. Hablamos (“I/we speak”). So if we’re already talking about a table, and I want to mention that “it” (the table) is green, I can just say Es verde and count on your brain to fill in the gap.
If I really wanted to refer to the table explicitly, perhaps to contrast it to a red table, I could use esa, meaning “that thing.” You can see this usage in the subtitle of this Spanish edition of It on amazon.es.
Spanish eliminates even more it‘s thanks to its tendency to invert subjects and objects. Instead of saying “I like it,” with an explicit “it” object pronoun, a Spanish speaker says Me gusta (“It pleases me”), omitting, as always, the “it” subject. Likewise, Me encanta (“It enchants me”) replaces “I love it,” Me falta (“It lacks to me”) replaces “I don’t have it,” and so on.
The closest that Spanish comes to English “it” is in sentences with a true direct object pronoun, as when someone eats, reads, or throws “it.” But in Spanish, every object—the thing that is eaten, read, or thrown, etc.—is grammatically male or female, never neuter. So if someone eats chicken, which is masculine (el pollo), they don’t eat “it,” but “him” (Lo come); if they eat meat, which is grammatically feminine, they eat “her” (La come). The same distinction holds for reading a newspaper (el periódico) versus a magazine (la revista): Lo lee vs. La lee, or throwing a soccer ball (el balón) versus a tennis ball (la pelota): Lo tira vs. La tira.
It’s the Spanish solution—take it or leave it!