Its Driving Me Crazy

When it comes to the English language, I can be quite picky about grammar and correct word usage, usually in the written form (in speech, I tend to speak colloquially in my local pidgin, Singlish, which is as broken as English gets). But English isn’t a language you can rein in with rules; it’s constantly evolving, and to try to keep it in its cage is a losing battle. I’ve learnt playing with words and expressions and pushing the boundaries of what is correct English can be accepted, even fun. If many are using a word in a way not originally prescribed, but is commonly understood as such, letting that meaning take precedence over its original may not be a bad thing after all, and be less confusing for everyone.

Case in point: Do you know ‘nice’ used to mean ‘stupid’ or ‘foolish’? Just one of many examples of how the meanings of words change over time.

I do have one pet peeve though: the incorrect usage of the apostrophe, especially when it comes to “its” and “it’s”:

Picture from the Oatmeal.

It’s really simple, actually: Apostrophes indicate a contraction – It’s = It is/has, He’d = He would/could, Aren’t = Are not, etc. ‘Its’ is a word that doesn’t have much to do with ‘it’ itself. Get it?

I can tolerate it when people say on the Internet,”Its cold,” cause it could be they’re lazy to type the apostrophe, which is a well-accepted characteristic of informal online communications. But when I read something like,”We have to neuter it, for it’s own good,” I wonder why they put in the extra effort to add the apostrophe. I can’t help but cringe.

It’s apostrophous, if you ask me.


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