Grammar Tip #3: Its Back! The Confusion Between “Its” and “It’s” Rears It’s Ugly Head!

Did you spot the two errors in the title? If so, skip this tip because you do not need it.

At my day job this week I got emails from two different people, both extremely powerful and successful in their respective fields, yet woefully ignorant of the it’s/its distinction. Here they are, edited to protect the guilty:

I got this information from the Immigration office. Therefore, we don’t
have to worry about it’s accuracy.

The X Society of B.C. is hosting it’s annual conference at the Coast Plaza Hotel and Suites in Vancouver.

Then my dad wrote me this anguished email:

Sign at my apartment building: “Downtown living at it’s best.” I had to cover the apostrophe with a piece of white label.

(Isn’t my dad the best ever?)

OK, time to lay down the law (not “lie down the law”– see Tip #2).

Here is a simple way to make sure you use the right one. “It’s” is short for “it is” or “it has.” So try replacing “it’s” with “it is” and see how your sentence sounds.

I got this information from the Immigration office. Therefore, we don’t
have to worry about it is accuracy.

Downtown living at it is finest

See what I mean?

“Its” is the possessive form of “it.” So it means “belonging to it.” So the title of this tip could be read as:

The Back Belonging to It! The Confusion Between “Its” and It’s” Rears It Is Ugly Head!

And that is clearly not what I meant.

Word Under the Street Rocked!

Eve Corbel and I shed copious amounts of blood, sweat and tears preparing for this year’s WUTS, and it was worth it! We sold a lot of zines and fridge magnets and met tons of great comics lovers. The only not great things were a) never meeting Joe Sacco even though we “adopted” him for the festival–not that we ever figured out what adopting meant and b) people stealing two of the tiny notebooks I made and a number of bookmarks. Ah well. I am going to put the stuff I made for WUTS up on the site as soon as I figure out how to do a copyright watermark in Photoshop.

Here I am with all our stuff, hanging out with Jackson, who came to visit for a little while.

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Eve graciously allowed Jackson to lick her eyebrow.

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Grammar Tip #2: Do Not Say “I” When You Should Say “Me”

Many people say “I” when they mean “me”—particularly in sentences like the ones below, where there are two objects: the person who is speaking and someone else.

For example:

WRONG: She gave the bad news to Joe and I.
WRONG: I don’t know why they got so mad at her and I.

RIGHT: She gave the bad news to Joe and me.
RIGHT: I don’t know why they got so mad at her and me.

I think people make this mistake because they learned (correctly) to use “I” when speaking about themselves as subjects, as in:

RIGHT: Claire and I went to the movie.

They learned not to say:

WRONG: Claire and me went to the movie.

Here’s how to know whether to use “I” or “me”: take out the other person. Would you say, “She gave the bad news to I?” No, you wouldn’t. Unless you were Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. But she made it sound fabulous.