Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Grammar Charm of Today Is . . .

“It’s” and “Its”

So what’s up with “It’s” and “Its”? Doesn’t an apostrophe (') mean possessive? That is, it shows that someone owns something? Yes, EXCEPT when it is a contraction as in “what’s = what is,” “doesn’t = does not,” and “it’s = it is.”

And here lies the common mistake confusing “it’s= it is” with “its= it + possessive “s” (think of it like “his” and “hers” which also do not use apostrophes).

Why is this rule confusing? Because proper names DO take an apostrophe.

For example:
“Harry’s broom is in the Gryffindor common room.”
“Ron’s wand is under the bed.”
“Hermione’s books are on the table.”
“The dragon’s wings are enormous.”

However with the possessive “its” there is no apostrophe.

For example:
“The phoenix rises from its ashes.”
“The animagus uses its magic to transfigure itself.”

Coming soon! Next week's grammar charm: plural posessive "s"

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