Mixing Helpfulness and Humor Since 2005

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Its, or is it It's, Tip of the Day

"Many people just don't realize (like I didn't not too long ago) that the only time "it's" is needed is when the words "it" and "is" (or "has") are being contracted. ("It's" = "It is" or "It has." But I could never remember this until I learned the following: The word "its" signifies possession, and needs no apostrophe. Just like the words: yours, his, hers, theirs, and ours don't have apostrophes. Now doesn't that make sense?

More info about Its vs It's for you to read or listen to.
(Just to make sure I wasn't going to get too grammatically correct, I decided to end my sentence with a preposition.)

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1 Comments:

Blogger Citizen Grim said...

The "it is" rule of thumb is by far the easiest way to remember which to use.

And the way you used your preposition there at the end isn't necessarily wrong. (1, 2) Since you used the noun "more info," there is an implied pronoun after "to," so it's not actually necessary to write the pronoun.

From the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language:
There has been a long prescriptive tradition of condemning preposition stranding as grammatically incorrect. Stranded prepositions often, but by no means always, occur at the end of a sentence, and the prescriptive rule is best known in the formulation: 'It is incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition.' The rule is so familiar as to be the butt of jokes, and is widely recognized as completely at variance with actual usage. The construction has been used for centuries by the finest writers. Everyone who listens to Standard English hears examples of it every day.

Instead of being dismissed as unsupported foolishness, the unwarranted rule against stranding was repeated in prestigious grammars towards the end of the eighteenth century, and the from the nineteenth century on it was widely taught in schools. The result is that older people with traditional educations and outlooks still tend to believe that stranding is always some kind of mistake. It is not. All modern usage manuals, even the sternest and stuffiest, agree with descriptive and theoretical linguists on this: it would an absurdity to hold that someone who says 'What are you looking at?' or 'What are you talking about?' or 'Put this back where you got it from' is not using English in a correct and normal way.


Apologies for going way too far into detail on this, but I had an annoying disagreement with a certain editor about this exact thing a few years ago, and now it's like my own tertiary jihad. I'm just spreading the light. :)

At any rate, you can take comfort in the fact that it wasn't a complete sentence. :)

Besides, how boring is English when people stick to the rules? Writing shouldn't be math - it should be art!

28 March, 2007 15:52

 

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