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 Post subject: Galanity's Grammar: Its vs It's
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 9:46 pm 
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Knight
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Welcome to a (possibly) ongoing series on good grammar. Just like math, grammar has rules, and breaking them makes reading your work very hard.

Today's topic: Its vs. it's. Its is a possessive pronoun, roughly meaning of it or belonging to it. It's is a contraction meaning it is or it has.

Which one to use? Try Galanity's Guide: Substitute "it is" and see if the sentence makes sense. If yes, it's is correct; if not, use its. Here's an example.

The dog wagged [its it's] tail.

Plug in "it is", see what happens.

The dog wagged it is tail.

That makes no sense! Therefore, we cannot use the contraction; use the possessive pronoun: The dog wagged its tail.


Now try the other way.

[Its It's] nice to learn good grammar.

Plug in "it is", again see the result.

It is nice to learn good grammar.

In that case, the sentence makes sense; thus, use the contraction, it's.

See how easy it is? Next lesson soon.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:04 pm 
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The Scribe of Athero
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Sounds good, Galanity. Looking forward to the next one :)

Edit: Ooops, noticed you don't have an avatar. That is illegal at FantasyFic, so I have assigned you one until you get your own one up. :P

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:14 am 
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Like my new avatar? :P


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:10 am 
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Er...it's a girl. I was trying to find one with a motorcycle but couldn't. I liked the one *I* picked for you :P

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:58 am 
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Goddess
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That's all well & good but I think the confusion most people have is when to use the apostrophe: for the possessive or for the conjuction. I don't think it's (it is ;)) a matter of just plugging in. It's a matter of just knowing when. Did that make sense? I'm not saying your trick doesn't work, just that people don't necessarily understand to not to use the apostrophe for the possessive (double negative ftw! Yar!).

Heck, my dang writers' group was a little confused at first when I explained a misused apostrophe for singular possessive vs. plural, lol. A lot of people just don't know when & how to use them.

This ongoing thread is a good idea, though. I'm a bit of a grammar nazi myself :P (in fact, I often go back & edit my own posts when I see I've made offenses, lol...and as an admin now I'm so, so, so tempted to do it to others' errors...but I don't. Yet :D) It really is easy to make mistakes when you're writing & on a roll, though. Knowing is the important thing, whether you use it as you go or whether you make sure to fix it when you see it later. I guess one reason I (almost always) try to pay strict attention to my grammar & punctuation is because I'd much rather people read my work for content rather than typos.

I also should have taken a screenshot at a raid the other night. I was correcting "your" and "you're" that some folks used for their hotkeys. That one drives me nuts. Your plug-in idea would work great for those. Also for some of the "their, there, they're" problems ;)

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:38 pm 
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It's great to see people enthusiastic about punctuation, grammar, etc. You two can really be helpful to the people here. Some of them could use the help :P

However, I do want to remind you that, despite the fact that I am a grammar/punctuation fanatic myself, I have refrained from coming down too hard on anyone for these kinds of boo boos because, first and foremost, the focus at FF (how's that for alliteration? :D) is on the writing itself. It's really hard for emerging writers, I think, to come up with original ideas and characters, weave them into an intriguing plot, write engaging and defining dialogue, and keep the person reading to the end...without having the worry of perfect punctuation added to the pot. I usually only start critiquing writers on their punctuation/grammar if they have had a little more experience and can take this kind of critiquing in their stride.

Still, I think this forum is a great writer's aid, and I'm glad you are going for it. Hopefully the writers who have questions will dip into the resources here. And Kally, I don't quite understand the problem with plugging in "it is." I think this is a good way to FIND OUT when to use its or it's. If you can't substitute "it is" and make sense, then it's its :D

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 6:01 pm 
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Raya, I just meant that the problem is that people don't know when to put in an apostrophe. Remembering which one that you plug in "it is" to, you know? It doesn't really help you remember. There's no mnemonic or anything to it, you just have to remember which one to do the plugging in to.

If that doesn't make sense, I don't know how else to say it. It wasn't a big deal to begin with.

And yeah...I generally don't worry about typos too much, just point things out when someone seems to have a problem with something consistantly, which is what Raya's done to me in the past ;)

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 1:16 am 
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One I've seen used alot, and wrong, is then and than.
I sort of cringe when I read something like this:
"It was than we saw the monster." or "Rather then going to the store, let's go to the park."

I like these tidbits. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 12:03 pm 
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Good tip, Lenore! I'll do a then vs. than writeup soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Galanity's Grammar: Its vs It's
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:37 am 
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Knight
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Revisiting this thread because I just came across a case where "it's" is actually correct, but probably shouldn't be used.

From another forum:
I hope the TSA is completely revamped. It's ridiculous the way it's now.


As we know, it's stands for "it is", which is correct in that sentence. However, with the contraction on the last it's, the sentence just reads wrong. In this case, spell out the words:
I hope the TSA is completely revamped. It's ridiculous the way it is now.


There may be a rule on this, if so I'm unaware of it. Best to use the practical rules: Does the sentence look right? Sound right? Read right? By those, the soft rules, writing out "it is" makes the sentence better.

What are your thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: Galanity's Grammar: Its vs It's
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:48 pm 
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I think the "read right" thing is your best bet here. Because, yeah, that second "it's" made all kinds of colorful, flashy alarms go off in my brain, lol (red ones, mostly, it was pretty wild!).

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 Post subject: Re: Galanity's Grammar: Its vs It's
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:21 pm 
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The Scribe of Athero
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Do your eyes spin too, Kally? :P

That was kind of neat, finding a place where it's right, but it's wrong lol That reminds me of a professor who kept hammering out about two negatives making a positive, but that two positives didn't make a negative. He was getting frustrated and finally said to the class, "There is no such thing as two positives making a negative." A student yelled back at him, "Yeah, right!" :lol:

And Kally, I finally figured out what you were talking about people not knowing when to put in apostrophes to indicate a contraction. A contraction is where two words are put together and one or more letters are taken out, usually of the second word, thus contracting the two words into one word. The apostrophe is to indicate that a letter is missing. The "would not" becomes "wouldn't" and the apostrophe indicates that the "o" is missing. Thus, "it's" is a contraction of "it is" and the apostrophe indicates that the "i" is missing. It's sort of a placeholder.

Taking that explanation along with the substitution trick should make it easy for people to figure it out now. Now it makes sense :)

Not to confuse people, but this is an old old grammar utility, first used, I believe, by the French. They used what is called a circumflex ( /\ ) over a vowel to indicate that an s has been taken out of the word. "Fenetre," meaning window, is written with the circumflex over the second "e" to indicate that in Old French the word used to be "fenestre" - which is taken straight from the Latin "fenestra" meaning window. And so it goes...with "foret" (circumflex over the "e" showing it used to be--surprise!--"forest"). The English, notably being interested in getting to the point, borrowed the strategy to remove letters to make a quicker pronunciation. There is no length difference between wouldn not and wouldn't - okay one space less, but it a heckuva lot quicker saying "wouldn't." Those wily English, eh?

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 Post subject: Re: Galanity's Grammar: Its vs It's
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:44 pm 
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Actually, that's not quite what I meant, Raya. It's easy to explain about contractions, what they are (Hey, Galanity, an aside: "they're" wouldn't have worked in place of "they are" here) and how they work...what I think people mess up on, is remembering to not put an apostrophe in on a possessive. Possessives usually have 'em, too. At least, that's the confusion I had, once upon a time.

I guess the best way I can think of to explain the difference to someone is to say that contractions' apostrophes are ALWAYS there to place hold, no matter what & that possessives' apostrophes aren't: not just in the case of "its" but in other instances, as well. "Hers," "his," etc.

And fyi, I don't know about you guys, but I've become hyper-aware of every time I hit the apostrophe key now...

Alternately, there's always the "pound it in with a hammer" approach, too ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Galanity's Grammar: Its vs It's
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:39 pm 
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When does the possessive of a pronoun ever have an apostrophe?? :?

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 Post subject: Re: Galanity's Grammar: Its vs It's
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:53 pm 
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Noun possessives do. Just that possessive apostrophes is not an all-encompassing rule. The contraction one is. That's all I meant.

I'm done with this thread, though, lol. I'm overthinking things & end up writing down too much of it :P

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