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Discussion: (12 comments)

  1. Walt Greenway

    I wonder how many of those “it’s” mistakes were typos instead of not knowing the rule (or that damn spell checker). I find I am making more mistakes with writing many hours of the day in Blackboard and email with three onsite classes and two online classes. Practice should make perfect, but volume mistakes seem to rule for me. At least I have not slipped to the level of text messaging jargon my students seem to prefer :)

    1. i certainly know the rule as well, but typing and thinking about what im writing at the same time often leaves it’s in my text…

  2. Robert Bauer

    It’s only going to get worse. This and other grammar and spelling problems have been cropping up more and more frequently as publishers cut back on staff, eliminating review and editing steps, and depending on spell-checkers. And while some of the mistakes may be honest typos, many of the writers don’t even know the correct form or word meanings.

    With these errors constantly turning up in newspapers, magazines, and even books (We’ll ignore blogs, as you get what you pay for…), readers who don’t know any better will assume these are correct usages. If the main-stream media uses it that way, it has to be correct… Right?

    My pet peeve is “forte”, and I trace its common miss-pronunciation directly back to Eddie Murphy in “Beverly Hills Cop.” Unless you are using it as a term in music execution or notation, it is pronounced “FORT”! Unfortunately, this mistake has become the new norm, so I suspect it’s the language that is going to shift.

    1. Robert Bauer

      Yes, I know that reply was just a bit “sloppy.” ;-)

  3. jay hoenemeyer

    When I taught literature , I took off twice the penalty points for what I labelled spellcheck errors : “Their are ” .Except for the its/ it’s error , where the penalty was doubled again . It is a particularly careless error .

    1. Walt greenway

      Jay, how many points did you take off for spelling “labeled” wrong? :)

      1. RonRonDoRon


        Maybe he’s British. It is an acceptable spelling, particularly in British English.

  4. SeattleSam

    Everyone has their own pet peeves. Mine is people who get their gender pronoun agreements wrong.

    1. “Everyone has their own pet peeves. Mine is people who get their gender pronoun agreements wrong.”

      This is clever, but the problem with “Everyone has their” concerns number, not gender.

  5. Business is the art of making a profit with the available people. The available people aren’t educated as they were.

  6. How is this for a simple remembering trick?

    In it’s the (‘) is a substitute for (i) in combo, it i(i)s. So, ‘ is used instead of i . But since the ‘s in most words is a shortcut way to indicate a possessive the (‘) does not replace anything, its like a symbol for understanding and since we are already making the ‘ substiute for i in the contractionit can’t be used again. So, when in doubt only think if you can substitute an i for the ‘ and see if it makes sense. If it doesn’t don’t do it.

    1. Yes, perhaps the simplest way of remembering whether to include the apostrophe is to consider whether one is using a contraction: “it is” becomes “it’s” similar to how “do not” becomes “don’t.”

      With regard to the possessive, I find that it’s easier just to remind folks that our possessive pronouns don’t have the apostrophe at all: his, her(s), and its, not hi’s, her’s, and it’s.

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