Grammar Lesson: It’s vs. Its

grammar-lessonThat bit on forming possessives was unendurable. Who edits these things? To compensate, dear reader, this week’s grammar lesson is short and sweet, like some of my friends.

Remember possessives? Lots of apostrophes: Nicholas’s tattoo, the families’ houses. Well, throw them out the window when you consider it’s/its. It’s the opposite of what the whole possessives lesson taught us. (See what I did there?)

Here is the nutshell version – the guideline and some examples. I’m using capital letters to make it clearer.

  • IT’S is a contraction of IT IS or IT HAS. You realize it’s not okay to wear a fanny pack, right? Let me know when it’s safe to pass through the herd of zombies. It’s always been difficult to be this glamorous.
  • ITS is the possessive of IT. The dog pulled at its leash. The alien excreted an anesthetic, so Jeff never felt its tendrils reaching into his intestines.

Remember contractions? I mean the kind you learn about in English class, not the kind you learn about nine months after a snowstorm. If so, you should remember that the apostrophe replaces letters that you lose* when you lump two words together. “Can not” becomes can’t, with the apostrophe replacing the now-missing N and O. “Have not” becomes haven’t, with the apostrophe replacing the O. Should’ve puts the apostrophe in for the missing H and A in “should have”**.

If you memorize this sentence you’ll never go wrong: When a soul-sucking alien wraps you in its sweet embrace, it’s probably okay to scream.

 

*Not loose. Don’t get me started.
**Not “should of.” What does that even mean?

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