its, it’s or its’

In the old world of fifty years ago, everyone knew how to differentiate and spell its and it’s.  Today almost no one can.  It’s really very odd as it is so simple.

It’s with the apostrophe is an abbreviation of ‘it is’.

Its (no apostrophe) is the genitive of it – of or belonging to it.

Yet even my son’s head teacher sent a letter recently (email) which used the apostrophe it’s for the of it version.  If headteachers at expensive private schools no longer know one its from another, the situation is getting serious.

Is this a sign of the stress everyone is living under?  No one has time or considers reaching for an authoritative dictionary to work out how to spell these two most commonly used words – even headteachers in their constant emails.  Or click onto Grammarly for one second and do it the e-way.

So confused is the world becoming by all these spellings and misspellings that there is now a third version appearing in texts – its’.  Rightly or wrongly this is being used as a way to spell of it.  Here is an example from the previous post apparently well written in every other way by someone who is educated.

‘You can be assured that no one else (that I could detect) paid a jot of attention to its’ presence in any way.’

Would it not be simpler to differentiate and spell the two original terms correctly according to the way it was taught?  I would have thought so.  The post comes from Boston, New England – so maybe the Americans have sprouted a new method which will soon be crossing the Atlantic.  I hope it doesn’t.

The apostrophe used to be used to indicate a missing letter or letters – as in hasn’t, wasn’t, isn’t which mean has not, was not, is not.   The apostrophe in it’s  is the missing letter ‘i‘.

Are there any other grammar issues we need to address before we get back to Brexit?  Or should that be Br’exit?


3 Responses to “its, it’s or its’”

  1. Belyi says:

    How about these:
    I’m fed up OF something’
    ‘Who would OF thought it’?
    Did you do it yet?
    The 1960’s

    There are many more.

  2. Cobalt says:

    Very few people use the semi-colon now; maybe because very few people know how to use it. It’s usually ”…” or ” – ”.

    Yours sincerely and Yours faithfully are two others too where people get it wrong.

    The best one I saw though was a study which showed how people read a sentence even if it’s shouldn’t make any sense:

    “It deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm”.

  3. jobijou says:

    Some years ago I was aghast when my child’s teacher at primary school, who happened to be head of literacy, sent home a letter containing the sentence ‘Please bare with us while we sort this out.’ For my child’s sake I resisted the temptation to draw a rude picture on it and send it back in the school bag.

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