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Its, It's, Its'

you know how you just notice things? i happen to notice when people use its it’s its’ according to their own "rules."

having taught business writing for 7 years at western michigan university at kalamazoo (mi) and washburn university in topeka (ks)….i can’t help but notice grammatical and mechanical variances :) i hesitate to call them errors…because grammar is just a convention. there really is no right or wrong…unless you’re grading papers….which heaven knows i did. thousands of them. so if you care about using "its" "correctly," read on. (notice the quotes outside the comma, he he he he he). quotes go outside the period too like this."

it’s is a contraction meaning "it is." it ALWAYS means "it is" and never means anything else. its’ looks like a possessive, but there is no possessive of "its." so it’s just "its." weird huh.

"its" is the possessive form (e.g., the dog chased its tail). if you wrote that the dog chased it’s tail, it would be read: the dog chased it is tail. see why it catches my eye? i think the usage of "its" is probably one of the most common errors in mechanics. to be safe, if you don’t understand apostrophes…..avoid them. just spell things out like "it is."

and if you’re not sure about the possessive form, rewrite the sentence so you don’t have to use it. that’s what i do when i can’t remember a rule. my particular favorite to "not get" is "who" and "whom." "whom" is just not a word that i like. so unless the sentence calls for the name of the book, for whom the bell tolls, i use "who" or rewrite the sentence so i don’t need a "who." he he.

you might wonder why I used quotes around "its" and "who" and "whom." the quotes indicate that i’m using a word as a word. i’ll bet that’s a lot more clear :) I also used quotes around "correctly" and "not get" as an aside to indicate that I’m poking a little fun. funny when ya start talking about grammar and mechanics, it gets even more muddy. for example, i could contest the use of "it" in the previous sentence because "it" has no antecedent (word that it refers to). oh isn’t this crazy making fun. sorry.

soon, i’ll write about "you’re" and "your." that’s a good one too. your welcome :)

just remembered something. i have a bachelor and master of arts in english…..but that’s not how i learned grammar. i learned from teaching it. i was "blessed" to teach a standardized curriculum that required that i write the number of the rule that was being broken by each error. i had to learn hundreds of numbers….hundreds of rules. it was awful. but now i know. doesn’t mean i won’t make errors. there’s an awful lot of rules…and some of them i just don’t care about. like ending a sentence with a preposition. or fragments.

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