Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Grammar Primer - It's a mystery!

What is the difference between "it's" and "its"? One of them shows possession and one is a contraction of two words. Do you know which shows possession? If you chose "it's", I'm sorry - you're mistaken. But you're not alone.The editor of our local newspaper has trouble with this one. 

"It's" is the contraction of the two words it and is.  For example, it's rather chilly outside today  can also be rightfully said, it is rather chilly outside today. Nothing is possessed, nothing is owned. 

Unlike nouns and proper nouns, the possessive form of it does not have an apostrophe in it. The kitten licked its paw, or the basketball team gave its all.

How can you easily and correctly decide which form to use? Try substituting "it is" in your sentence. If it makes sense, then you would use the contraction with the apostrophe. If it doesn't - as in, the kitten licked it is paw - then you don't use the apostrophe.

Does it really matter? In the eyes of a discerning public, yes, definitely. The followers of your blog would rather not work to decipher your meaning. An editor of your article cares about how much effort is required to fix it. A professor will mark your paper according to how much you know about the standards of communication.

Lol or brb are fine for phone talk. But if you have full keyboard at your finger tips, you can be confident about the proper use of it's and its. With this handy tip, it's easy to put it in its proper place!

Next time...your and you're.

Christmas 2018

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