The most common error I notice in writing involves the pesky apostrophe.
Signmakers mess up.
Advertising copy editors mess up.
Students mess up big time.
I’ve been worried that an entire percentage of the population has been traumatized by someone barking a spelling rule such as:
I before E
Except after C !!!!!!
(Except when you say
Neighbor or weigh)
...Not to mention the day
Someone gives you a lei
Or you strain your brain
When spelling reign)
English is peculiar that way.
Most kids were in school the day the teacher taught “Apostrophe Ess.”
Most kids were absent when The Reason Why got tacked on.
That day, week, month, the talk turned to possessives and plurals. But they were absent.
Hence, students who remember that a plural needs an ESS get all confused if a possessive word (mine) ends with an ESS (yours)
If ‘yours’ is possessive, then doesn’t it need an apostrophe? Like, “Is that Godsey’s dog or yours?” Is it already plural? What’s going on here?
What’s going on is those exceptions to the rules we were taught.
Sometimes it is hard to explain what the distinction is. Especially if we said, “Is that the Godseys’ dog?” Both Godseys claim to be the parents of Toby the Black Lab, you know. “Oh, no....ESS apostrophe???”
But here is the easy way to help people remember when to use ITS and when to use IT’S.
IT’S only ever means ‘IT IS.’ No exceptions.
The Contraction=It Is
IT’S the wrong time and the wrong place; the face is charming, but IT’S the wrong face.
IT’S my party and I’ll cry if I want to.
That’s the way IT’S going to be, and I don’t want to hear anymore whining.
I’m telling you, IT’S definitely her, only with a face lift.
Plain old ITS is possessive, just like HIS and HERS. Both HIS and HERS end in ESS, you see. Neither cause the confusion that ITS does.
ITS tires need rotating.
Her hair lost ITS curl.
The door fell off ITS hinges
The restaurant lost ITS license after the health inspector saw what was going on in the kitchen.
Please go forth and call these errors to the attention of all confused souls. IT'S one small thing we can do for people in times of turmoil and general confusion.
03/07/08------The Language Wrangler likes to be jarred out of complacency
Diane notes: Great post, Beverly, but it's come to my attention that you've forgotten one other possible meaning of "it's;" while almost never mentioned, it's also commonly used to stand in for "it has."
"That package you were waiting for? It's arrived."