Created By: Stratadrake on June 10, 2012

Its On The Fritz

To apostrophe, or not to apostrophe? That is the question....

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Is this worth a wiki guideline page?

(singing): "If you want to be posessive, it's just I-T-S... but if it's supposedtobeacontractionthenit's I-T-apostrophe-S !"

Perhaps the biggest Berserk Button of any self-proclaimed Grammar Nazi is the misspelling of "its" as "it's" and vice versa.

Do you know which one to use where, and why?

As much as nobody likes a Grammar Nazi ... they're right. The official rules on "its" versus "it's" are:

  • Its is the posessive pronoun, meaning "something belonging to it".
  • It's, with apostrophe, is always a contraction for "It is" or "It has".

Does this feel completely backwards? After all, when dealing with any other word in the English language you just pin an apostrophe-s on the tail end to make a posessive, right?

But here's the trick that everyone forgets: The apostrophe-s rule only works on nouns. "It" is a pronoun, and pronouns don't play by the same rules. They never have! No posessive pronoun in the English language has ever had an apostrophe in it -- seriously:

  • I, me -> my, mine
  • We, us -> our, ours
  • You -> your, yours
  • He, him -> his
  • She, her -> her, hers
  • They, them -> their, theirs

Notice there is no apostrophe in "ours", "yours", "his", "hers", and "theirs". "Its" is a pronoun too, and it plays by pronoun rules:

  • He -> his
  • She -> hers
  • It -> its
  • They -> theirs

We hope this helps you keep them straight. Spelling errors make the wiki look bad, so if you see an "it's" where an "its" should be (according to the rules above), please take a minute of time-out to fix it.
Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • June 10, 2012
    This isn't a trope, all on its lonesome. It could be a start for any trope about seeming spelling or grammar errors, but for just its vs it's? That's ranting. Not tropable.
  • June 10, 2012
    Stratadrake wrote: "But here's the trick that everyone forgets: The apostrophe-s rule only works on nouns. 'It' is a pronoun, and pronouns don't play by the same rules. They never have! "

  • June 11, 2012
    • ahem* possessive
  • June 11, 2012
    In S'ir Terry Pratchetts' {{Dis'cworld}} 'series: the phenomema of the Greengrocers' apos'trophe, which i's hopefully in'serted at random into the dis'course every time an ""'s" come's along, butnever in the gramatically correct place. A s'tyli'stic quirk for which British' greengrocer's are notoriou's.
  • July 30, 2012
    "Its On The Fritz" completely fails to draw attention to the fact that we're talking about a punctuation error in "its".
  • July 30, 2012
    ^Well, part of the problem is that most people don't know the difference between it's and its. We could maybe do "Working on it's punctuation", but people would probably still miss the point.
  • July 30, 2012
    It's tropeable if you are able to include examples from fiction- it's also more likely to be seen that way than if it's just another page about wiki writing. I would also suggest combining it with other commonly confused pronouns, such as they're/their and your/you're.

    Come to think of it, you could also make it about apostrophes in general: Apostrophe Abuse, perhaps?
  • July 31, 2012
  • August 1, 2012
    Certainly not a trope (who thought it was?) but possibly a good guideline page.

    Perhaps that rather famous Bob The Angry Flower strip could be the page image.

    Possibly expand it to common grammar mistakes? Then-than, etc.?
  • August 1, 2012
    Don't Mycroft's bookworms in The Eyre Affair spout apostrophes in odd places in the text when they defecate? I think the common its/it's error is how Fforde sneaks it in on the reader, though of course the apostrophes get more obvious as you read along.
  • August 1, 2012
    This is a real pet peeve of mine, especially when "it's" is used where "its" belongs. You've no excuse when the correct version takes fewer keystrokes than the incorrect version.

    Can this be lumped in with Rouge Angles Of Satin?
  • August 1, 2012
  • August 1, 2012
    ^^Analogy with other apostrophe possessives.