Word choice: It’s a contraction, not a pronoun

I’m not a perfect writer. But there are certain things I just can’t stand to see in published writing. One of these is the use of it’s for its, or vice versa.

In the last two days, I’ve seen at least five instances where someone either didn’t proofread their work or simply didn’t know the difference between these two words. Most of these were included in published news articles or advertisements, which should have been corrected before they went out.

Word Choice

Just in case there’s any question, here’s a reminder:

  • It’s – Contraction that combines the words “it is” or “it has.” The apostrophe is like a placeholder for the missing letter(s). Example: It’s great to see you; I can’t believe it’s been so long since we got together for lunch.
  • Its – Pronoun to indicate possession. In this case, the word is like a gender-neutral version of “his” or “hers” which, of course, do not require apostrophes. Example: I was always told not to judge a book by its cover.

Yes, I realize there are more important things to worry about in the world, but I happen to be the type of person who will reread my copy of Strunk & White just for fun.

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