by Rebecca Cantrell
I’ve mellowed in my old age. I pick my battles now. Sure, I correct street signs, printed newspapers, books I read, cereal boxes, but mostly only in my head. Except for it’s. This one is wrong so often that I just can’t stand by and let it go.
It’s is a contraction of it is. It’s easy to see why it has an apostrophe. It’s a contraction. The apostrophe pulls together those two words. The It’s-It ice cream sandwich gets it right. It IS it. It’s it. Got it?
Its is possessive. Now don’t tell that you get confused because an apostrophe can indicate possessive (as in, Rebecca’s pet peeve is stupid). Nobody ever tries to sneak an apostrophe into hers (her’s?) or his (hi’s?), but little its is often torn asunder by an apostrophe. It is not its fault.
All right as one word (alright) also bothers me, but not as much. I’ve always learned it’s two words. Most major dictionaries and Grammar Girl agree with me. But that one seems like it’s on a slow downward slide into acceptance. I still mark it on stuff I’m given to edit, but I just sigh when I see it in a magazine. “It’s all right,” I tell myself. “The world won’t stop spinning on its axis.”
But I still feel a flush of self righteous annoyance. And, really, isn’t that what grammar peeves are all about?