Saturday, July 01, 2006

It's "its"

I don't understand why spelling, punctuation, grammar, and usage don't seem to matter anymore. There was a time when people took pride in their writing, and the ability to write well was one of the most important skills in professional occupations. Now, these things don't seem to matter at all. Well, I'm tired of that, so I'm going to write about it, even if no one does care. I'm going to start out with one of the most common mistakes -- and the easiest one to fix. And it's "its".

There are two, count them, two ways to spell words that sound like "itz". They are "it's" and "its". There is no good reason that these two words should be confused because the rule to choose between them is beyond easy to remember.

(1) The word that can be replaced by the two words "it is" is spelled "it's".

It's time for you to go home.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

(2) Otherwise, the word is spelled "its".

The cat is licking its paw.
The most prominent feature of the Capitol building is its dome.

If you want to remember that "its" is the possessive form for "it", that's fine. But you don't have to.

There. I feel much better.

1 comment:

Michael said...

There's one other usage of "it's" that is marginally acceptable. "It's" can be a contraction fot "It has", as long as "has" is a helping verb.

"It's been fun."
"It's got to stop raining sometime."


"It's four paws and a tail."