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Grammar Police Part 2

June 26, 2008 - Betsy Bethel
My other major pet peeve is the improper use of the words "its" and "it's." This is a written mistake that I see everywhere, including in our newspapers, on restaurant menus and on business signs.


"It's" is a contraction for "it is." It also can be a contraction for "it has" ("It's been a long time.")

Incorrect: "Its Jamboree time!" Correct: "It's Jamboree time!"

Incorrect: "Its the right thing to do." Correct: "It's the right thing to do."

**A general rule: If you substitute "it is" or "it has" and the sentence makes sense, then you're good to go.


"Its" is a possessive pronoun (similar to "her" and "their"). "Its" is used to show that something belongs to a place or thing:

Correct: "That 'No Turn on Red' sign has outlived its usefulness."

Correct: "The symphony will present its annual Fourth of July concert at the Wheeling Heritage Port."

** A general rule: If you substitute "it is" or "it has" and the sentence doesn't make sense, leave out the apostrophe.

The apostrophe is misused in general all over the place. A billboard on I-470 for Eat'n Park states (and has stated for years): "Lets eat." It should be "Let's eat," as in "Let us eat." It's a shame that nobody at the billboard company or the restaurant has bothered to fix the sign over the years.


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