[DWJ] A grammar realization - Where are we from?

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Apr 13 09:30:07 EDT 2007


Otter:
>>> Pointless pedantry requires me to point out that the second "it's" in
>>> that paragraph should be "its".

Philip:
>> Not pointless.  It's a typing error I often make, and frequently fail
>> to spot.
>>
>> After years of being told, and telling people, that "it's" means "it
>> is", I realised only the other day that I frequently use "it's" to mean
>> "it has".  But "it's" to mean "its" is a typing error to which I freely
>> confess.

Otter:

>That's okay.  As a mercer, you are allowed the occasional
>greengro'cer's a'postr'ophe.
>
>I've gotten to the point where I have to carefully check it's/its
>every time because I've gotten confused.  My suggestions for
>a solution is that apostrophes be eliminated.  I'd rather have
>none than too many.

My reason for wanting to keep the apostrophe is simple: just because some
people get it wrong, that isn't a reason to make it so that *nobody* can
get it right.  If a spelling or a punctuation will make what one is trying
to say clearer to the reader, then it shouldn't be thrown out.  There *is*
a difference of meaning between "the words" and "the word's", and having a
way of indicating that difference makes reading a sentence containing one
or the other just a bit easier.

Dashitall, many people find reading difficult enough already: why make it
even *more* hard work for them by taking away one more of the conventional
ways to help sort out meaning?  We wouldn't say "Oh, a lot of people get
the colours of the roads wrong when they are drawing or reading a map, so
we won't have green for major roads, red for lesser A-roads and yellow for
B-roads any more, we'll just colour them all red except for the blue
motorways."

I'd rather that the writer should check if it ought to be "its" or "it's"
than that the reader should have to.  It seems only fair, somehow.  I'm the
one who wants to get something across, so it ought to be *my* business to
make it clear.

Minnow





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