Carpe Diem

Second grammar rant of the year on the misuse of it’s

This didn’t take long, it’s only been about three weeks since my last rant….

From the comments section of CD and the Web:

1. Experience Canada in all it’s majesty from coast to coast.

2. …..that industry, unlike GDP, is still well off it’s peaks.

3. Ethanol in high concentrations cant be delivered in existing pipeline systems due to it’s corrosive nature. (Note: He/she left out the apostrophe on cant and placed it incorrectly later in the sentence?)

4. Let us hope that they decline to bailout the insurance industry and let this pig die of it’s own deformities.

5. XXX argues that it’s money is being well spent because there’s only a small window to get good acreage for low prices.

6. This paper screams for an addendum to fully substantiate it’s sources.

31 thoughts on “Second grammar rant of the year on the misuse of it’s

  1. “It’s” is a conjunction, which is a combination of words. In this case, it is a combination of “it” and “is” (yeah, it’s a combination of “it” and “it”).
    Otherwise, use “its”.

    (but how many know that “o’clock” means “of the clock”?

  2. I think #5 is a typo with an extra “is” after a correct it’s.

    I’ll take the “it’s and “its” annoying mistake any time over reading a three-page paper and not knowing what the hell the student is trying to say after I read it.

  3. As the resident grammar boor in our neighborhood, I do take some pleasure when the home-schooled kids bring their papers to me for proofreading.

    I find that the iPhone and Apple autocorrect function is to blame for a lot of these typos. When the user relies on software to automagically insert corrections, proofreading becomes even more important. Let’s hope we see a comeback for proofreaders (it’s the human kind that’s needed)!

  4. “Ethanol in high concentrations cant be delivered in existing pipeline systems due to it’s [its] corrosive nature.”

    We’ll need ethanol, because many of the supergiant oil fields, which produce about half of the world’s oil, are in decline, more will decline, and decline rates will accelerate.

    However, there’s some good news:

    UPDATE 2-U.S. oil production to jump 25 percent by 2014-EIA
    Jan 8, 2013

    “U.S. crude oil production is expected to rise by the largest amount on record in 2013, the Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday, and is set to soar by almost a quarter over the next two years.”


    Iraq’s flood of ‘cheap oil’ could rock world markets
    The Washington Times
    February 3, 2013

    “Iraq passed a critical milestone last year by producing 3 million barrels a day of crude oil for the first time since 1990.”

  5. #3


    Apparently my apostrophe key is sticking. I’m just sure I pressed it when I typed “can’t”, but it didn’t show up until “its”. :)

      • Yes, and its it’s working. I get to see that whole sentence again without using a single keystroke – and in the body of a blog post at that, not just the comment section.

        You wouldn’t believe how seldom I’m quoted by economics professors.

  6. Mark J. Perry: Second grammar rant of the year on the misuse of it’s

    ‘Twas so indeed, ’twas so, but, indeed, god forbid it should be. ‘Twas the foulest deed.

  7. so, are we to take this as evidence of deteriorating typing/grammar skills or increasing curmudgeonhood on mark’s part?

    perhaps we need a prop betting scheme on how long before the next grammar rant?

    • Can using apostrophes, either properly or improperly, be cost justified? Assuming the writer and reader both understand the exact meaning of the term, why should we pay extra for the time needed to put the apostrophe into the writing process, proofread for it, and change any mistakes of the usage?

      It would be interesting to see a cost/benefit analysis of any added value of properly applying the it’s or its grammar rule outside of an English or writing class. now i havta go back ta grading my papers

      • Disclaimer: I am reading business plans and grading them now (executive summary, company description, marketing analysis, forecast of earnings . . .). I am making comments to have my students change the singular “companies product” to “company’s product.” When you write asking someone else for money, everything needs to be as perfect as possible.

  8. I used to get excited about it’s, its, affect, effect, and people using “myself” when they mean “me.” I gave up correcting others when I realized how outnumbered I was.

    Now I simply try to use words in a beautiful way, and try to appreciate other when they do the same without letting it ruin my day when they do not.

  9. its just so darn frustrating to remember: when using certain words like “city,” for example, it’s possessive form when using the substitute pronoun, “it”, is different from it’s possessive form when using the original noun.

    we can complain till we’re blue in the face, but its just not going to change anything.

    • Chris, frustrating? Yes. You just work at it and remember your audience and purpose of whatever you’re writing. The writing that works with friends or texting does not work professionally most of the time. You have to know when to change hats.

      • must not be that frustrating since I used It’s or Its improperly 4 times in a comment to an article about the improper use of the word

        • Chris, the only real reason to use its or it’s properly is other people do, and you will look dumb if you don’t. Competition weeds out the dumb. If I have money to loan, I don’t want to loan it to dumb people: do you? Making the it’s or its mistake will also result in having to take remedial English in college as a freshman instead of starting in college English (that a “LOC” marker on entrance essays).

          I would not correct minor grammar mistakes on a blog, and your “it’s” “its” mistake did not frustrate me even a little bit or detract from your message you wanted to convey at all.

          • it was a joke! a joke to show how peculiar the mechanics of the its/it’s conundrum can be. People will complain about it, but i bet many people will not notice the mistake because intuitively it feels right to use the possessive “‘s” with it when describing a particular noun (city’s or its or it’s- IT’S very easy to say it’s here!)

            perhaps we need remedial humor education!!! (another joke, sorry!) DISCLAIMER: please do not take this too seriously.

            maybe i’m just not funny..

          • Walt, Chris’s Its It’s mistake WAS the message.

            Just admit that you missed it, and quit telling us what your doing today.

          • I missed it, and I don’t care. I don’t read Carpe Diem for grammar lessons. I took a break from grading papers to read here. I’m sorry if that bothers you, Ron.

  10. Why not just spell all homophones the same way? Which is to say, make them all homographs.

    For example:

    its, it’s, ‘its (as in estuary English, he ‘its his ‘ead) = itz.

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