ATTN: Copyeditors and Grammar Fiends

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While I do consider myself a Grammar Fiend, I am a little bit confused over the usage of "its" and "it's".

Obviously one uses "it's" where "it is" could be used, but when implying posession (eg. "The dog licked it's/its wounds.") which one are we supposed to use? I've been told that "it's" should be used in the above example, but if that is so, when should one use "its"? Could someone outline some example cases in which each instance is supposed to be used?

Other questions of grammar are welcome in this thread.

Andrew (enneff), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:07 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

its

mark p (Mark P), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:09 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Posession = its. No apostrophe.

It Is contraction = ONLY acceptible use of it's.

(pls ignore my spelling errors, because I know I am right on the its/it's issue)

kate (kate), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:10 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

you were told wrong. The dog licked its wounds.

http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000227.htm

teeny (teeny), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:10 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

it's = it is ONLY

possessive of it has no apostrophe EVAH!!

viz: the dog licked its wounds

ditto plural of it ("he ended his avant-garde poem with a whole line of its"

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:11 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

its

otherwise it would read "the dog licked it is wounds" or "the dog licked it has wounds"

j0e (j0e), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:11 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

close brackets

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:11 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Its = ownership thing, think of it as like his or hers.

Tim (Tim), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:12 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

and his and hers never take an apostrophe, if that helps you remember.

teeny (teeny), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:13 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

grammarian cluster alert!!

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:13 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

What if your name is "it"?

Sam (chirombo), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:14 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

it licked his wounds

mark p (Mark P), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:14 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

apostrophes are so last century

stevem (blueski), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:15 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

theyre the microhouse of punctuation

mark p (Mark P), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:15 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"and then smog licked ott's wounds"

mark p (Mark P), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:17 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Here's my question. I'm proofing this German website which my company had translated into English so we can use it as a resource. When referring to a made-up person, like a subordinate, they alternate between him and her from sentence to sentence, so it will be like:
Giving feedback to a subordinate helps him learn.
Then
Positive rapport helps a subordinate build her self-esteem.
But in the US, we would use him/her, or his/her, like:
Giving feedback to a subordinate helps him/her learn.
But sometimes this can get really tortured. So my question is, when is it appropriate to use "them" or "their" for a single person, like:
Giving feedback to a subordinate helps them learn.
Are you just supposed to use this when it will make things clearer? Or is it grammatically incorrect but tolerated? I really hate "him/her" and would rather keep it the way the Germans wrote it, but it has to be in proper English business grammar.

NA. (Nick A.), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:19 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

grammatically incorrect but tolerated etiquette-wise, basically

how abt:
Giving feedback to a subordinate helps him learn (her learn). [and then alternate the order]

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:22 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Cor Mark that's even clunkier!

Grammatically incorrect but increasingly tolerated in my experience. In the version of business English our business uses here in England, no-one would even notice. Except the sort of pedants you'd like to irritate.

Tim (Tim), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:24 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

just use "him"

Dave Stelfox (Dave Stelfox), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:28 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

No it's not: you get a whole sentence followed by an alternative section you can easily ignore. (Because it's in brackets.)

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:28 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

(nutcase) Yes maybe you're right.

Tim (Tim), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:31 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

How about:

Giving feedback to subordinateS helps them learn.

Dilemma solved.

kate (kate), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:32 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

just use "him" but put a disclaimer at the bottom telling everyone how much women are valued in the workplace and that you're actually dead politcally correct, like, and you'll be fine...

Dave Stelfox (Dave Stelfox), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:34 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

if you're going to start a fight you might as well start it by putting "her" the whole time, and then put a disclaimer at the bottom saying men can eat a bag of dicks

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:37 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Use "him/the dog".

Sam (chirombo), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:37 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

just include a picture of a german woman with subtitle "him" and youre sorted

mark p (Mark P), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:39 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

if you're going to start a fight you might as well start it by putting "her" the whole time,

either or'sgood with me


men can eat a bag of dicks

i live for the day i see this in any corporate communication

Dave Stelfox (Dave Stelfox), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:40 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

kate is OTM.

teeny (teeny), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:41 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

just use "her" but put a disclaimer at the bottom telling everyone how much men are valued in the workplace and that you're actually dead politcally correct, like, and you'll be fine...

no, them is acceptable these days, and has been for years

Alan (Alan), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:41 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

alternately substitute any instance of him, her, them or theirs with 'rammstein'

mark p (Mark P), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:44 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"giving feedback to a subordinate helps rammstein learn"

mark p (Mark P), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:46 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

You could also alternate 'him' and 'her' in different examples - a favourite self-help book technique but never mind. I still don't like 'them' in written English.

Archel (Archel), Thursday, 17 July 2003 12:46 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

But it's fine in spoken English?

RickyT (RickyT), Thursday, 17 July 2003 13:59 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

What does Nesbit do when describing something possessed by the Psammead.

Pete (Pete), Thursday, 17 July 2003 14:09 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Everything's fine in spoken English, it's in flux and I don't pay attention anyway :)

Archel (Archel), Thursday, 17 July 2003 14:09 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Alternating him and her was the Thing to Do when I was at Hahvahd.

Colin Meeder (Mert), Thursday, 17 July 2003 14:18 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I use Shem to mean both.

Pete (Pete), Thursday, 17 July 2003 14:19 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

good point ptee:

things belonging to Cousin It are Cousin It's

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 17 July 2003 14:19 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"Them".

Chris P (Chris P), Thursday, 17 July 2003 14:31 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I use the third person plural rather than any of the other alternatives. If you actually put things into plural as much as possible, that helps.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Thursday, 17 July 2003 19:47 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Alternating him and her was the Thing to Do when I was at Hahvahd.

That's what people kept telling me, but I was never that adventurous.

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Thursday, 17 July 2003 20:21 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I was going to make Chris's point without solid evidence. Hurrah for 'them'.

N. (nickdastoor), Thursday, 17 July 2003 21:04 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

y'know what? that it's/its thing has been bothering me for years and now i know. didn't realise it was that simple. Its like an epiphany ;-)

dog latin (dog latin), Friday, 18 July 2003 01:16 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Using "them" or any other plural pronoun to refer to a singular antecedent is a horrible horrible thing and should be avoided.

It used to be gramatically acceptable to use a masculine pronoun (he, him, etc.) when referring to a person of unspecified gender (you know what I mean.. I can't think of any other way to put it), but now the "he or she"/"his or her" method is the proper form.

I'm not sure if it makes a difference whether you use a slash or the word "or." I suspect that the slash is unacceptable in formal writing.

Curt1s St3ph3ns, Friday, 18 July 2003 02:11 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"giving feedback to a subordinate helps motherfuckers learn," italics or boldface on "learn" obv. possible/encouraged

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Friday, 18 July 2003 02:33 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"I know what you're thinking. Did s/he fire six shots or only five?"

amateurist (amateurist), Friday, 18 July 2003 03:31 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I suspect that the slash is unacceptable in formal writing.

Unless it's academic writing, and it allows you to make a terrible pun somehow.

jaymc (jaymc), Friday, 18 July 2003 04:31 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

but now the "he or she"/"his or her" method is the proper form.

Proper, maybe. But it should be pointed out that if you're having to cram this into your sentence, you;re writing a clumsy sentence, and you should probably drop back and punt.

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Friday, 18 July 2003 04:34 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Not that I don't write clumsy sentences all the time, mind you. It's just that I'm aware of it.

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Friday, 18 July 2003 04:35 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

seven months pass...
Quick - is "fact-checking" hyphenated? Or is it "factchecking"? Oh no, they both look weird!

@d@ml (nordicskilla), Monday, 8 March 2004 00:24 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

sorry, to clarify, this is the wrong thread for having no desire to flatten out dialects

pulled pork state of mind (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 17 October 2017 08:38 (one month ago) Permalink

haha - it's prob grand really and dialects are good but it's only a matter of time before it's used to sell me broadband.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Tuesday, 17 October 2017 08:44 (one month ago) Permalink

it probably already is! there's a horrible Yorkshire Broadband company that advertises on TV, don't know if it's national or not. think they'd avoid "while" because until you've heard it used that way it would absolutely throw you. don't get me started on "breadcakes" which are pure Hull

pulled pork state of mind (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 17 October 2017 08:46 (one month ago) Permalink

can someone explain what the "while" one means?

k3vin k., Tuesday, 17 October 2017 10:33 (one month ago) Permalink

It means "until".

The two things that threw me the most when I moved to Yorkshire (1989) were "while" as described above, and gnarly old dudes calling me "love". I like both very much.

There was (probably still is) a subset of self-consciously Yorkshire phrases like "put wood in th'ole" (pronounced roughly as "put woodenthoil") meaning "close the door". I'd always get a sly little look to see how I, as an obvious Southerner, would react to something they knew I'd find incomprehensible. While and love were not like that.

Tim, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 10:39 (one month ago) Permalink

it's discussed on some thread -- i forget where except it wasn't a word-usage thread -- so the regional use of "doubt" shd be noted here

me, a fancy london-based wordsmith: i doubt aliens exist = i don't believe in the existence of aliens
me, a shropshire-born country lad*: i doubt aliens exist = i think aliens probably exist

usage not limited to shropshire (indeed i think it arose in the thread bcz a us poster had noticed it in their area)

*i was once this, with accent to match

i've def heard the ignore one in the wild -- it's the delivery that sells it (in the sense of ensuring it makes sense)

mark s, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 10:46 (one month ago) Permalink

dublin has the "love" thing in the inner city too. not so often from men but funny when like a 12-year-old girl in a newsagent calls you "love" in a way inherited from an older relative.

on the "ignore" one, i assume british people also say "never mind" instead of "let alone"?

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Tuesday, 17 October 2017 11:09 (one month ago) Permalink

mark those meanings for "doubt" map almost exactly onto French usage:

"douter" = to have doubts about
"se douter" = to suspect

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 17 October 2017 11:22 (one month ago) Permalink

IIRC, it was RAG who previously mentioned the regional - Scottish - usage of 'doubt', somewhere or other on ILX.

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 11:23 (one month ago) Permalink

yep, yr right ward, discussion of doubt begins here: Words, usages, and phrases that annoy the shit out of you...

mark s, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 11:50 (one month ago) Permalink

I like 'while'! working 9 while 5...

kinder, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 11:52 (one month ago) Permalink

I don't think 'ignore' meant 'nor' cos in the original use, which I doctored, the second thing was a subset of the first thing. like 'didn't expect to be able to afford a car, ignore a BMW'

kinder, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 11:55 (one month ago) Permalink

"while" for "until" certainly common in Manchester too

mahb, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 12:52 (one month ago) Permalink

I noticed an odd difference usage between me (southern UK) and my mother-in-law (Northwestern Illinois) recently - she seems to use "anymore" the way I'd use "these days" while I would only use it to mean a subset of "these days" these days where something has been lost / changed.

I could say "it's not cheap here anymore", and we would both find that totally standard use.
She could say "it's expensive here anymore" (or similar) and that sounds totally odd to me, though obviously I can get the drift fairly easily.

Tim, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 13:00 (one month ago) Permalink

dublin has the "love" thing in the inner city too. not so often from men but funny when like a 12-year-old girl in a newsagent calls you "love" in a way inherited from an older relative.

I remember my mam asking the young lad in the petrol station for "£10 worth please, love." "I'm not your bleedin' love," was the answer.

To be clear, this was back in the days of full-service petrol stations. He was not a prostitute.

trishyb, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 13:29 (one month ago) Permalink

that you know of

looser than lucinda (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 17 October 2017 13:49 (one month ago) Permalink

Fair point.

trishyb, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 13:58 (one month ago) Permalink

Similar to "while" above: on my visits to Vermont, I used to hear people say e.g. "quarter of [the hour]" in place of "quarter to." I found it cute & quaint. Similarly, the English usage of "at the weekend" vs. "on the weekend."

dinnerboat, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 15:13 (one month ago) Permalink

Is that very regional? I've heard "quarter of" plenty often. Probably not as often as "quarter to," but still plenty. Never been to Vermont, BTW, my dialect is Midwestern / Midatlantic.

looser than lucinda (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 17 October 2017 18:41 (one month ago) Permalink

I thought "quarter of" was a common North American usage

Number None, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 19:07 (one month ago) Permalink

I'd never heard "quarter of" before visiting VT. I'm Canadian; maybe that's it.

dinnerboat, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 19:20 (one month ago) Permalink

I'm sure I've heard it in Canada too!

Number None, Tuesday, 17 October 2017 20:37 (one month ago) Permalink

saw on telly the following: "Did you trust him?" "Implicitly."

Does 'implicitly' actually imply a degree of trust in this way? It seems an odd word to use. (I know it's a common usage, but not really thought about it in this sense before).

kinder, Wednesday, 25 October 2017 21:07 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I think it's fine?

Gary Synaesthesia (darraghmac), Wednesday, 25 October 2017 21:13 (three weeks ago) Permalink

One accepted use of "implicit" is "without doubt or reserve". It derives from the concept that what is implicit is also inseparable from the thing in view. So, an implicit trust would be a trust that is bound to the very essence of the person (or object).

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 25 October 2017 21:15 (three weeks ago) Permalink

xp dunno, if you read it literally, it sort of implies 'I trusted him but actually I hadn't really questioned whether I should'.

Aimless, yes I think that's how I've always read it (as 'unreservedly'). Just seemed an odd answer esp as then explicitly stating the trust.

kinder, Wednesday, 25 October 2017 21:18 (three weeks ago) Permalink

ugly house

conrad, Wednesday, 25 October 2017 21:34 (three weeks ago) Permalink

sad tidings

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 25 October 2017 21:38 (three weeks ago) Permalink

conrad haha yep. wasn't watching but mr kinder picked up on it.

kinder, Wednesday, 25 October 2017 21:44 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I had the same reaction

conrad, Wednesday, 25 October 2017 21:45 (three weeks ago) Permalink

on the basis of the verb, 'to wife':

do you think it should be 'wifing' or 'wifeing'?

j., Friday, 27 October 2017 20:34 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Wifing. Would you write "knifeing" or "knifing"?

(Though I would be tempted by "wiving." We've come to wive it wealthily in Padua.)

what if a much of a which of a wind (Ye Mad Puffin), Friday, 27 October 2017 20:36 (three weeks ago) Permalink

To splice = splicing. To drive = driving. To brine = brining.

what if a much of a which of a wind (Ye Mad Puffin), Friday, 27 October 2017 20:37 (three weeks ago) Permalink

just don't make being a wife into a verb

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Friday, 27 October 2017 20:50 (three weeks ago) Permalink

^^

k3vin k., Friday, 27 October 2017 20:50 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i am not opposed to verbing nouns in general but this one is:
* problematic
* not a natural fit for neologism since no 1 clear verb form emerges as the logical (comprehensible) one
* the variations listed above are incomprehensible and if no one knows what it means, don't try to force-invent a word that didn't ask to be invented

I was busy wifing (using wifi?)
I was busy wiving (dwiving?)
I was busy wifeing (wifeing = ???)

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Friday, 27 October 2017 20:56 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Good points LL.

Pro tip: husbandry and husbanding are different things.

(cf. Tom Lehrer: "he majored in animal husbandry... until they caught him at it one day."

Is "wifing" meant to be like "adulting"? Was not aware.

what if a much of a which of a wind (Ye Mad Puffin), Friday, 27 October 2017 20:58 (three weeks ago) Permalink

purely on the spelling question, i thiiiiiiiiink the only exceptions* to the rule that you drop the e for -ing are words where the e modifies a vowel: viz you don't drop the e with seeing or shoeing or -- treating y as a vowel -- eyeing

when adding e.g. -able you always need the e if it's modifying a consonant: viz changeable -- the a doesn't soften the g so you need the e

compare forcible: since the i softens the c you don;t need the e as well

*tbh this is always a risky thing to claim w/english, as it's an unusually irregular language but i certainly can't think of any

mark s, Friday, 27 October 2017 20:59 (three weeks ago) Permalink

fwiw SOED has wifish (for "having the characteristics of a wife", 1616) rather than wivish

mark s, Friday, 27 October 2017 21:02 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Anyways wiving means marrying a woman, not being a wife, of course

what if a much of a which of a wind (Ye Mad Puffin), Friday, 27 October 2017 21:03 (three weeks ago) Permalink

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/wifed

and more importantly:
https://www.anagrammer.com/scrabble/wifed

mark s, Friday, 27 October 2017 21:09 (three weeks ago) Permalink

lol but also:
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wive

and:
https://www.anagrammer.com/scrabble/wived

mark s, Friday, 27 October 2017 21:12 (three weeks ago) Permalink

SOED also agrees with YMP on the verb form: to wive, meaning to be a wife (rare), to become a wife (obs. or arch.), furnish with a wife (obs. or arch.), or to take as a wife (presumably not obs. or arch. or even rare, tho it seems p rare to me)

mark s, Friday, 27 October 2017 21:17 (three weeks ago) Permalink

don't try to force-invent a word that didn't ask to be invented

too late, done been did, we're just looking to mind the drift therefrom

ye m p otm

j., Friday, 27 October 2017 23:22 (three weeks ago) Permalink

ymp otm. wiving is pretty ancient now, replaced by "taking to wife", which is also quite archaic and disused. nb: "swiving" was much more fun.

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 28 October 2017 00:05 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Motherfuckers be like "but what type of niggas will wife you?"

My type of niggas will wife me! The type of niggas that like bitches that pop off and suck dick all day motherfucking long bitch

Thanks to all my followers that always defended me, y'all my God brothers and God sisters, I would dare jump in your fight, I would dare jump in your fight. Now what's poppin?

j., Saturday, 28 October 2017 02:21 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i'm finally reading The Last Samurai and jesus does that book make me feel dumb. i mean it's about geniuses and i am not one of those but i really don't know much about much. is it too late in life to learn grammar rules or learn latin?

i am never using proper punctuation on this thread.

ALSO i love the lack of punctuation in that book! what a cool book.

i mean CASE ENDINGS i think i knew what that was but i looked it up and that just starts me on a rocky road through terminology i have no idea about.

THE VOCATIVE CASE. i dunno maybe its too late for me.

scott seward, Friday, 10 November 2017 16:33 (one week ago) Permalink

get yr head round finnish cases and the rest is easy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_noun_cases#Finnish_cases

mark s, Friday, 10 November 2017 16:45 (one week ago) Permalink

They passed on their message with(using) the houses they built.

scott seward, Friday, 10 November 2017 16:56 (one week ago) Permalink

finns don't see gender. the language of the future!

scott seward, Friday, 10 November 2017 16:56 (one week ago) Permalink


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