One of my biggest pet peeves in writing is the proper use of the words there, their and they’re, and its and it’s. I hate, hate, hate people who claim to be writers, yet don’t use these words properly.
I applied for a writer/editor position a couple of months ago with a print magazine. I was sent an article, previously published, to critique. There was a sentence in the article that said “…the Nintendo Wii, with it’s multi-player platform…”. I pointed out that the “it’s” should have been “its” and the editor argued with me. “It’s” is a contraction – for “it is” or “it has”. If you use “it’s”, substitute “it is” in its place, and see if your sentence makes sense. Such as “…the Nintendo Wii, with it is multi-player platform…” Doesn’t make much sense this way, does it? Yes, most often, the apostrophe s added to a word makes it possessive. However, not in the case of “it”. Actually, the possessive of “it” is “its”, without the apostrophe. Yeah, it’s one of the quirks of the English language.
Then there is there, their and they’re. There, as in “over there” and “There it is” ~ a place, a location. Their, the possessive of they, as in “their belongings”, “their dog”, “their car”. They’re, a contraction for “they are” ~ as in “They’re (they are) coming over for dinner”. I was in the post office the other day, and they had a bin of phone books by the door. The sign on the bin read “Phone books – Take One – There Free”.
Illiterates, or idiots?