Tuesday, 17 January 2012


There is no mistake, more frequently and more commonly committed than it’s vs. its, in the communications in which I take an active part on day to day basis. It’s not that writers know about it and accidentally commit it only a few times; had it been so, I would have been happier. They don’t know about it and they don’t learn it. I have personally shown difference between its and it’s in live interactions to many of my friends, but found that most of them persisted with these errors. Perhaps, they do not find these errors to be too important a thing to worry about. This error is committed by writers from almost all walks of life. The cause of confusion is: Apostrophe ‘s’ being used mostly with words where you have to express something possessing something else—for ex: Ram’s pen. In case of it, the possessive pronoun is ‘its’ and not ‘it’s’It’s is a shortened form of ‘it is’. It is raining, might be written as it’s raining.

There is another less commonly committed mistake. It’s about the apostrophe ‘s’ being used in case of nouns which end with a letter ‘s’. For example: “Jacks’s letter is red”, is wrong. It should be “Jacks’ letter is red”. You have to do without ‘s’ in such cases.

Added Later: One of my fellow interlocutors commented on my post:

The abundant misuse of apostrophes is mind-boggling.
According to a popular treatise on English writing, "The Elements of Style" by Strunk & White, which is commonly used as a textbook in college English courses, it is acceptable to use "'s" after a name ending in "s". Thus:
The Wilsons' poodle got loose again
--is as grammatically acceptable as--
The Wilsons's poodle got loose again.
(according to Strunk & White). i think the logic behind it is that it may help in understanding the meaning while speaking the sentence out loud to say "the wilsonses poodle". purely speculation, though.
you may also often come across people who misuse apostrophes to denote the plural of something. "i saw there were many helicopter's and plane's at the airshow today." 

shaking head 

and don't let's get started on quotation marks...

I replied thusly:

Thanks a lot for bringing into my attention: (1) It's very much acceptable to use ('s) even after the words which end in 's'. Now, I remember that I had read that rule and I think it said that if you do use it, it's not wrong, but somehow ( possibly because of redundancy in my mind) I made an impression in my mind that it should not be used.[Why use 's' if you can do without it!]
(2) People do confuse in cases like "i saw there were many helicopter's and plane's at the airshow today." I encounter such sentences every now and then. smiling face