Wednesday, March 28, 2007

1. "It's/Its" Problem

Hello, Grammar Bloggers, and welcome to our first lesson! First, let me say that I'm thrilled to get such a response to the Welcome message and hope you will continue to visit and share your ideas with me at this site. It's great to know there is such an interest in Southern vernacular and a "fierce" desire by many to maintain and cherish all parts of it. It's also great that so many of you would like to see us correct some of the grammar, usage, and mechanics errors that seem to stereotype us the wrong way. Thanks for your interest and I hope you'll enjoy the following lessons.

** Note: Being able to blog using this free site is great. However, we have formatting limitations; so for now - on our computers - we're not getting to use bold, italics, indenting, etc. Thanks for your patience and flexibility. We'll just use capitalized letters and other options (that may be less than ideal grammatically) unless/until we discover other ways to format.


The "It's/Its" Problem

OK. What a time we seem to have with this one! People have trouble with these two little words constantly -- in writing, advertising, headlines -- you name it. It is, thankfully, one of the easiest ones to learn, though, and I hope I'll be able to clarify this for you once and all. First, try your hand at the following five sentences to see how well you do.

1. (Its, It's) high time we learned this rule.

2. After resting in the sun all morning, the cat licked (its, it's) paws.

3. Don't even think about eating that piece of cake -- (its, it's) mine!

4. Caitlin listened to the political speech but later said (its, it's) point was too
dull to remember.

5. (Its, It's) goal is to increase productivity by the year 2010.



* Sentences 1 and 3 should be "it's."

WHY? "It's" simply is a contraction for 2 little words -- "it" and "is." When
you are wondering about which use is correct, just pretend that the apostrophe
is an "i." After all, it looks a lot like an "i" anyway. Read the sentence to
yourself and substitute "it is" for "it's." If the sentence makes sense, then
the correct form is "it's."

In sentence #1 above, if you read the sentence as it is written and try this
trick, you would read it as

It is high time we learned this rule.

Doing it this way should keep you from ever making this mistake again!

* Sentences 2, 4, and 5 should be "its" with NO apostrophe.

WHY? "Its" is simply a possessive pronoun. It shows ownership and is usually
followed by a noun.


its fur
its mayor
its speed
its taste
its look

In sentence #2 above, notice that "its" is followed by nouns in all 3 sentences:
"its" paws, "its" point, and "its" goal. Just remember that when the apostrophe
is inserted, you have actually inserted a verb -- "is", and there will not be a
verb after "its" showing ownership.


How did you do? If this usage has always been a problem for you, just know you are in good company. The following is a headline from an otherwise respected newspaper:

USA Confirms That Seinfeld Is It's Favorite Show.

~ USA Today ~

You know better than this, don't you? Thanks so much for visiting and feel free to make comments. Have a great week!

Warm Regards,
Grammar Guide


Anonymous said...

You're right. This is a common mistake. I hope that, in a future blog, you will address the horrible local habit of ending a sentence with the preposition at. Best example: Where're you at?

Anonymous said...

I love your blog! I agree with the poster who suggested the topic about ending a sentence with the word 'at'. I can remember being told as a child when I would speak such a sentence that "it is behind the at...".

Anonymous said...

If the sentence makes sense using "it is" is a great way to explain this common mistake. That is how I figure out when to say "John and I" or "John and me"; just use "I" or "me" singularly and use the one that makes sense.

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