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Its, the possessive of it .

  1. Jul 30, 2012 #1
    its, the possessive of "it".

    Anyone else find it funny and odd that it's (no pun intended) spelled "its" with no apostrophe? Other possessive forms like "one's", "dog's" etc. are spelled with an apostrophe before the "s".
     
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  3. Jul 30, 2012 #2

    jedishrfu

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    So as not to confuse it with the "it is" contraction. English was designed by a commiittee before the age of computers or commuters.
     
  4. Jul 30, 2012 #3

    D H

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    That would be French or Spanish. English? We don't need no stinkin' committee.
     
  5. Jul 30, 2012 #4

    arildno

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    The pronounciation variability in endings like -ough ought to tell you otherwise..
     
  6. Jul 30, 2012 #5

    Ibix

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    That it's the wrong way round is the way I remember which way is right.
     
  7. Jul 30, 2012 #6

    D H

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    I use the short and sweet "it's a contraction."
     
  8. Jul 30, 2012 #7

    Ben Niehoff

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    There are also no apostrophes in "yours", "his", "hers", "theirs", and "whose". Notice that they are all pronouns.

    The truth is, there is no logical reason for possessives like "dog's" to carry an apostrophe in the first place. Historically, there was none. Compare to modern German which forms genitives with -s and no apostrophe; there is no confusion.

    The apostrophe was added by Renaissance grammarians who mistakenly believed that the possessive ending was derived from "his", as in "the dog his = the dog's". However, this grammatical construction never existed in English.
     
  9. Jul 30, 2012 #8

    AlephZero

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    There is no confusion in German because, unlike English, plurals are not formed by adding "s".

    There is potential confusion in English when "genitive or plural" is followed by word that could be either a noun or a verb, for example "the priests stole". (Can't think of a better example right now...)

    Without an apostrophe, there is also confusion between genitive singular (priest's) and genitive plural (priests').

    But you are right that the apostrophe was not used in English in the 16th and early 17th century.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  10. Jul 30, 2012 #9

    lisab

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    Please, just don't use its' (insert pet peeve smiley here).
     
  11. Jul 30, 2012 #10

    Danger

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    :rofl:
    I can't say as I ever saw that one.
     
  12. Jul 31, 2012 #11

    Ben Niehoff

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    Mostly true, but some German words do add -s to make both the plural and the genitive, such as Auto, Autos.

    But aside from genitive vs. plural, German has other case endings that are sometimes identical, especially in the feminine gender. They are always spelled the same, and you can tell them apart from context.

    And Latin, which is even more strongly dependent on its word endings, has several examples of different endings being the same. You'll probably find the same in every natural inflected language; not every inflection is absolutely unique. English is the only example I know of that feels the need to spell two endings differently when they are pronounced the same.
     
  13. Jul 31, 2012 #12
    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    Yeah, the "er" ending in "nicer" and "maker" are spelled the same despite the different function, likewise the "s" ending in "detects" and "cars".
     
  14. Jul 31, 2012 #13

    Danger

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    Of course, if you combine those two, the proper ending is a speeding ticket.
     
  15. Aug 2, 2012 #14

    Dembadon

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    Something else that seems to cause a lot of confusion:

    How does one refer to an object that belongs to someone whose name ends with an 's'?

    Example: A bat belonging to a person named Carlos.

    Correct: Carlos's bat. (One appends the apostrophe AND the 's' to the end of the name)

    Incorrect: Carlo's bat. (One just changed Carlos's name to Carlo)

    Also Incorrect: Carlos' bat. (One just indicated there are multiple people named Carlos, perhaps even cloned, who all claim possession of the bat)
     
  16. Aug 2, 2012 #15

    Chi Meson

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    Multiple people named Carlo, I believe. Several Carloses claiming bat would be "Carloses' bat." [/nitpicking]
     
  17. Aug 2, 2012 #16

    D H

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    That last one would be Carloses' bat, or Carloses's bat, depending on whose set of rules one follows.

    Regarding Carlos' versus Carlos's, different guides have different opinions. There is no single authority that dictates what is / is not proper English. This happens to be one of those places where different style guides disagree, but consensus does appear to be moving toward Carlos's.
     
  18. Aug 2, 2012 #17

    Dembadon

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    Re: its, the possessive of "it".

    Points taken.
     
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