Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

That doesn't mean no one proofread it. These days I think it's more common to have the apostrophe in the possessive pronoun can to omit it. I've even seen people defend their usage as deliberate. I suspect we're near the end of it even being considered a "rule."

It's = Shortended "it is"

"It is wide angle lens" doesn't work.

Parent poster understood that, and suggests the incorrect usage is becoming standard, as people apply a simplified form of the rule. In the same way, one might expect "whose" to be phased out in favour of an incorrect "who's".

I'm not convinced they are correct (note deliberate use of the ungrammatical but popular singular 'they'), because hyper-correctism seems to be increasing as well. The population seems to be splitting into those who can't use correct grammar, and sticklers, with a reduced middle ground of the relaxed.

Indeed, I understand that fully. My point is that the English language is not prescriptive in practice. In fact, even if you're a prescriptivist, you could easily argue that "its" is a special case, since most English possessives are formed with apostrophe s.

Please stop making excuses for illiteracy. It's nonsense like this that contributes to the decline of educational standards.

If its versus it's implied someone is illiterate, we'd all be completely uneducated because we didn't write in Middle English.

It's not an excuse for illiteracy. Language trends change over time, including among highly educated people.

In this case, I don't think the highly-educated are intentionally using "it's" instead of "its". It's merely a common typo.

Not yet, no. I only said the trend appears to be changing.

Its rediculous but I think we're going to loose this battle

There, they're, their.

It'll be OK.


It isn't a special case. (its : his) :: (it's : he's)

So you don't say "it's" for the same reason you don't say "hi's".

I could almost parse "wide angle" as an adjective, but it hurts.

I am acutely aware of that, and I prefer the distinction. My point is that language trends change over time, and it seems like this trend is changing.

Is that true? A statement like, "Drive Tom's car" is grammatically correct, but I don't think it is expanded to "Drive Tom is car".

That's because "Tom's" is possessive in this case. The possessive form of "it" is "its" (no apostrophe). The way I remember it: if you can substitute "his" or "hers" for "its", then don't use an apostrophe.

I like that, I'll use it. I still forget it's vs. its.

This is precisely why I think usage is changing and will continue to change. The current "rule" (which isn't really a rule, since there is no official governing body of the English language) is an unnecessary and arbitrary special case. The meaning can nearly always be easily understood from context.

You are completely mistaken. "Its" isn't violating the apostrophe rule at all. "Its" is a possessive pronoun just like hers, theirs, his, ours, mine.

All the other pronouns have different pronunciations for their possessive and contraction forms, and also vary in spelling more than a single apostrophe, so the written mistake is unlikely to occur for those.

Arguing that there are no rules in English on the basis that there isn't a governing body seems to misunderstand what rules are. Being largely dead, the Romans no longer defend classical latin, but that doesn't mean it has no rules.

Rules can change over time and you do not need a governing body for rules to exist as rules are just as easily defined by consensus as by imposition.

It is generally known that its and it's have different meanings. People may regularly confuse them and the confusion may eventually eliminate the rule, but that does not mean there is currently no rule.

Or to put it another way, if English has no rules, have understand problem no will sentence you this to.

Hah yea, this is a particularly nasty part of the language IMO. I was wrestling with it recently. For pronouns, the apostrophe is only to indicate a contraction. Possessive pronouns like "hers" do not use an apostrophe. So "it's" always means "it is." Where "its" always is expressing that "it" possesses something.

I usually refer to this handy illustrated guide http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe :D

> So "it's" always means "it is."

Sadly, no. "It's been like this for days."

Usually, -'s can mean either singular possessive or a contraction for "- is." "It," however, is a special case. "Its" is possessive, and "It's" is reserved only for the contraction of the phrase "It is."

Apologies if I did not post my question in the proper format. It was my first post. I am not sure why I was down-voted. My question was sincere. I couldn't find a clear answer with a quick search.

It's possessive in that instance.

In that case I'm looking forward to the days of he's and her's!

The difference there is that the pronunciation of those special possessive forms is clearly different than the corresponding contraction (e.g. "he" vs. "his"), so you're much less likely to make the mistake in written English.

I'd argue that depends on your accent. I'll grant you that "he's" is probably a bit tricky, but I can totally see people writing "hers", stopping, looking at it, "Hm, ownership... apostrophe!".

EDIT: To be clear, I'm not greatly bothered either way; I got over my prescriptivism a while ago. I'm just curious whether the trend will continue.

hahahha. they's?

I don't think that's true - I've not seen a single style guide that suggests that!

I made no claim about what style guides suggest. I merely claimed that deliberately using "it's" for both forms is increasingly common in written English.

My bias is to doubt that, but I could be convinced by data. Do you have any evidence that such usage is deliberate?

No, I do not have any evidence on the portion of uses that are deliberate. But it doesn't have to be deliberate in the sense that the writer is consciously trying to change the trend. Trends change slowly and "naturally," sometimes even due to misunderstandings of the earlier usages. For example, the word "apron" is widely considered correct and standard, but it arose from a misunderstanding of the phrase "a napron" (from Old French "napperon") as "an apron."

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact