The Grammar Geek: Cousin It

My husband asked me to write about dangling prepositions, but I read some posts today on various groups and sites that had its/it’s confusion, so I’m going to get on my soapbox about that instead.

The word, “it”, can be problematic when made possessive. See, it doesn’t have an apostrophe in its possessive form (see? Just like that.). It’s just one of those things you have to memorize.

Wait, what was that? Oh, I just used “it’s” to mean “it is”. “It’s” can also mean “it has”. It’s a contraction (read: It is a contraction.).

To make things more difficult, my last job was in an Information Technology department, abbreviated “IT”. Unlike the pronoun, “it”, “IT” follows normal proper noun rules. If a telephone belongs to the IT Department, it is “IT’s telephone”. If IT is going out drinking the email subject reads, “IT’s going drinking!”

To recap:

  • its telephone = the telephone belonging to it
  • it’s a telephone = it is a telephone
  • IT’s telephone = the telephone belonging to Information Technology
  • IT’s a telephone = the Information Technology department is at the bar, letting voice mail pick up all the calls.

Okay, so technically, IT should be abbreviated “I.T.” to eliminate confusion, but that’s WAY more annoying to type…