It’s Not Rocket Science!

After coming across the non-word its’ (with an apostrophe) for the nth time, I decided I needed to make a statement that I’m hoping most of you already know: It’s is not rocket science.

Why do writer complicate the it issue? With most all other words, deciding when to use an apostophe+s or an s+apostrophe can be a little daunting (see earlier posts with the tag “apostrophes”). But really, with it’s, it’s just plain simple:

The word it’s ONLY means “it is.” It’s a contraction.

You have to be able to replace it with “it is.” Period. End of discussion.

Any other usage of its leaves out the apostrophe. Its is an adjective; it is is a noun + a verb. There is no word its’. (How would you pronounce that—”itzes”?)

  • A dog bites its fleas
  • Its icing was dripping down the sides
  • The boat had its motor pulled
  • It’s about time we writers got this down!

Like I said–it’s not rocket science. Too bad not all words needing apostrophes follow this simple rule.

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  1. Part of the problem, I think, is that there are five rules governing apostrophes. When I taught English, whenever students missed an apostrophe, I made them read all five rules and pick out which one they missed. They then had to rewrite the sentence and write the rule.

    Another part of the problem is the prevalence of dyslexia. It runs in my husband’s family, so I am particularly sympathetic. I’m tone deaf, but my husband, daughter, and son are musicians. We all have different talents.

  2. Hi, Suzanne. I giggled at this post a little and agree that people make this waaaaayyyyy too complicated. My other pet peeve: “you’re” versus “your.” I still can’t believe how many people–even multi-published authors who submit articles to others’ blogs–use these words interchangeably. Hope you’re enjoying a lovely holiday weekend.

  3. Keep hammering away at these usage issues, Ms. Lakin! The misuse of its/it’s drives me nuts, and I see it everywhere. Don’t get me started on the misuse of pronouns. Thanks for this post. IT’S a good one!

  4. Thanks for this, Susanne. Misuse of its/it’s is a bugaboo of mine that drives me nuts, too, Gerry. It’s so logical. Why should anyone get it wrong?

    I’ve noticed that my current version of MS Word is inconsistent with contractions. Its spell checker will often flag the correct forms as errors. It’s so maddening. I don’t use the auto-correct feature for that reason.

  5. Thanks!! I often stop and think, “Is that apostrophe suppose to be there?” Thanks for glaring that up for me.

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