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ITS <----> IT'S
English Grammar and Punctuation
Member Name: MALU
English Grammar and Punctuation
Date: 05/02/10, updated on 08/05/13 (159 review reads)
Advantages: good to know
Disadvantages: embarrassing not to
Why am I writing another review then? Rest assured, I've (have) got a life and I don't (do not) need a chill pill, I'm (am) cool, man, I've (have) even got this in writing. But I'm (am) a teacher, meaning I'm (am) eternally optimistic. The proverb 'Constant dripping wears the stone' doesn't (does not) exist for nothing. Maybe there'll (will) be a miracle and this my review will open an eye or two and lead to someone's enlightenment. The other day I met a former pupil of mine, who's (is) approaching forty; he told me that he has to think of me when he sees a wrong apostrophe (he must think of me a lot!). I taught him when he was thirteen. Hooray! Fanfare!
From the way I've written the above paragraphs you can already learn one function of the apostrophe, namely to mark omitted letters. The greatest problem seems to be to find out if 'its' or 'it's' is correct. Where's the problem? It's so easy peasy that it's embarrassing to see how many writers don't master the problem. If pupils who learn English as a foreign language can do it right, native speakers should be able to do it right, too, don't you think?
I could tell you something about possessive pronouns and so on but I prefer the simple, unscientific method:
'IT'S' means 'IT IS' - that's the whole secret!
Now whenever you are about to type one of the forms, stop, wait a sec, think if you can say 'it is'. If you can, the apostrophe is correct, if you can't, it isn't.
Don't tell me that it is an unsurmountable obstacle to get these two forms right. For the 'Who cares?' faction: I can well imagine a staff manager looking at an applicant's text full of wrong forms and deciding against them. We're not talking the occasional typo here but slovenly writing. Will the applicant be assiduous and conscientious in their job? Maybe as a, say, fork-lift operator or chimney-sweep (honourable jobs, no doubt, I'm not discriminating against them, of course) but not as a secretary or a teacher. I don't know how often I've seen reviews by members who introduce themselves as students but who're incapable of writing correctly.
When it comes to 'its' and 'it's', reading around shows that the apostrophe is preferred where it shouldn't be used. With 'your v. you're' and 'their v. they're' it's different, here the form without apostrophe is preferred where it should be used. Use the same method as described above: whenever you're about to type one of the forms, stop, wait a sec and ask yourself if you can say 'you are' or 'they are'. If that is the case, the apostrophe is correct, if not, it isn't.
Btw, in negative forms, the 'o' is omitted and replaced by an apostrophe, so it must be 'isn't' and can't be 'is'nt'. Just so that you know.
You can't wait a sec? Why the hurry? Do you really think it's of any consequence to the world at large if you post your review five minutes sooner or later? Why type the text directly into the text box and then use this later as an apology for overlooked blunders?
Some members avoid thinking about apostrophes by not using any at all. Well, that isn't the solution, is it? If you've got your spell check switched on (how anybody can write without it being switched on remains a mystery to me), you can at least avoid forms like 'doesnt, dont, hasnt, havent, isnt' because they don't exist and your computer will show you that you've written incorrectly by underlining them. But 'it's and 'it's', 'your and you're' and 'their and they're' exist side by side, the computer can't help you there. But a little thinking doesn't hurt, does it, especially as everything is so easy peasy. If you're dyslexic and have enough probs getting your spelling right, you may give this information on your profile site so that you're not downrated by members who think that a review should be written correctly and not look like a text message.
The second use of the apostrophe is to show that something belongs to someone, no apostrophe doesn't make this clear, an apostrophe where it doesn't belong puzzles.
'My brothers house . . . ' - What's that? This doesn't mean anything.
'My brother's house . . . ' - Ah, you've got *one* brother who's (not whose!!!) got a house.
'My brothers' house . . . ' - Interesting, *two or more* of your brothers share one house.
Believe it or not: plural forms have no apostrophe! Yes, indeed, you can't eat pizza's or write about swimming pool's and hotel room's, it's just not possible. You can stand on your head and wriggle your toes to draw attention to your original creations, but you won't change the rules, I'm afraid.
Now that we're at it, may I digress a bit and tell you two other secrets? If you're not an invalid and can move about without help, then you can't write 'I was sat' or 'I was stood' because if you do, you must be able to answer the question, "By whom?" Who sat you and who stood you? Nobody did? Well, then it's 'I was sitting' and 'I was standing'. I'm right, definitely.
And now we've come to the word which teases the most creativity out of the members: 'definitely'. It's DEFINITELY always and only DEFINITELY and never: definately, definatly, difinitly, difiantly. (My spell check is having a nervous breakdown!)
There's much, much more to say on the topic of correct writing, but let's leave it at that. If every member took the above explanations on board, they would make fewer (not less!!!) mistakes. Wouldn't that be wonderful? We could have a party, open champers and dance on the tables!
Five stars for the correct use of the apostrophe!
Summary: some hints on the correct use of the apostrophe