Carpe Diem

Quarterly punctuation rant on it’s vs. its

It’s been almost three months since my last post on this topic, so it’s time for another quarterly punctuation rant on the misuse of it’s for its. From the CD comment’s (!):

1. How about an e-reader with a bar code scanner that can tell the customer it’s size and it’s price?

2. Walmart is more than free to do what it wishes in accordance with what best meets it’s own bottom line.

3. How about Homeland Security taking up billions every year since it’s inception.

4.  There is no hope for the future “classing up” of American society when many of it’s youth are wearing their pants so low their underwear are showing.

5. Manufacturing is on it’s way back.

6. What should be noted is how badly this forecasting company has performed since making it’s regular announcements.

7.  Elegant code is non-existent these days. I suspect bit mapping had a lot to do with it’s demise.

15 thoughts on “Quarterly punctuation rant on it’s vs. its

  1. bart-

    why don’t we just tax apostrophes used for anyhting other than a possessive. (5c for that one, thanks. -us treasury) after all, one need not use contractions. they are just shorthand.

    this would provide employment for thousands of out of work english majors, provide a perfect pretext for snooping into every e-mail and internet entry in the US, and protect the sanctity of the english language.

    seems like a hat trick of wins for the state!

    what could go wrong?

  2. I’m with delurking.

    The exception that ‘s denotes possession, except when following “it”, is at the heart of the problem.

    Eliminate the exception.

    Then, either a) use “its” to signify “it is” or b) use “it’s” to signify “it is” and rely on context to resolve the potential ambiguity.


    • “Manufacturing is on it’s way back.”

      So, instead of mistakenly adding an apostrophe, he mistakenly left out a semicolon?:

      Manufacturing is on; it’s way back.

    • Well, ” ‘s ” only indicates possession for nouns. For everything else, it is a contraction. The nouns are the exception, rather than the pronoun.

      • I was insufficiently precise.

        ‘s after a noun or pronoun indicates possession.

        It’s not possible to drop the apostrophe to consistently denote possession, since s after a noun denotes plurality.

        Therefore, “it’s” makes sense as possessive.

        The question, then, is whether to use “its” as the contraction (and distinguish it from the possessive), or “it’s” to be consistent with the contraction rule (and rely on context). I tend to favor the latter solution.

        • Yeah, like Thomas said.

          And also,


          should be made the possessive pronouns. Then things will be much less confusing and easier to remember.

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