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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It really get's my goat

It really get's :-0 my goat that more and more people persist in using the apostrophe inappropriately, and worse, that they positively bristle at correction: "How *dare* you tell me my usage is incorrect! What are you, some sort of snob!? Don't you know the is no 'right' way to write a language!!?"

For example: "who's" and "it's"

The words 'who's' and 'it's' are not the genitive/possessive case for 'who' and 'it,' they are contractions for 'who is' and 'it is' -- the genitive/possessive for these words are 'whose' and 'its.'

Oddly enough, the persons who write 'who's' and 'it's' when they ought to write 'whose' and 'its' almost invariably write 'whose' and 'its' when they ought to write 'who's' and 'it's.'

And, of course, such persons will nearly always improperly use '~'s' in a vain attempt to indicate the plural ... while failing or declining to properly use '~'s' to indicate the genitive/possessive.

And, how many times has one seen, for example, 'cities' or 'countries' where the correct usage is 'city's' or 'country's;' and from the same person 'city's' or 'country's' where the correct usage 'cities' or 'countries'?

It's a plague! <<-- that, by the way, is correct;
Its a plague! <<-- that is incorrect.

I have a nastly little secret, Gentle Reader: I have a hard time reading the writing -- or respecting the thoughts -- of those who wontonly misuse the apostrophe, even if I otherwise like (or, in some cases love) the person.


cathy said...

Well, I thought I had my who's and it's pretty well figured out, but it comes to my attention that I've been pluralizing abbreviations incorrectly, at least part of the time... I think.

I started to type "DVD's" and suddenly my blood ran cold and I thought: Could I, too, be guilty of excessive, wanton apostrophizing?

And, yes, according to some of these brief on-line guides, you only use the apostrophe if the abbreviation contains periods, and I don't remember seeing it as D.V.D., so (!), something new every day.

I also was delighted to learn that it is "no longer" necessary to include an apostrophe in expressing a period of years, like the 1970s, when I was taught it was the 1970's. Which is not much better than looking up a word you've always used, and between the pronunciation and the definition it says "obsolete"! "Archaic" I can live with, but "obsolete" is too unkind.