Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More Word Choices (Part 3 of 7)

It's or Its

I don't understand why people have trouble with this pair of words. We remind ourselves that the apostrophe means we've omitted a letter and combined two short words. We've—which I used in the previous sentence—refers to we have and the apostrophe points out the deletion of the first two letters of the word.

With the apostrophe, we mean it has or it is. Its (without the apostrophe) is the possessive form of it. Its is the neuter form. Most of us don't have trouble with his or her.

· To lose weight, Gerald decreased his food intake.

· Marilyn ate only a portion of her meals.

· Reg wanted to eat the cheese but he didn't know its caloric content.

The third sentence is where people stumble. Its refers to inanimate objects.

It's not difficult for me to remember 
that grammar has its rules.

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