It’s driving me crazy!

March 6, 2009

Why do so many people think the possessive word “its” requires an apostrophe? Today I saw it on the blog of a professional copywriter who should have known better. The word “it’s” is a contraction for “it is.” The possessive “its” does not have an apostrophe. Neither do the plural forms of most nouns, but that subject is worthy of a separate rant!

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7 Responses to “It’s driving me crazy!”

  1. Uncertainty to Embarrassment Says:

    Dear Rewrite Lady,

    A customer recently wrote “ranging from…through…to” in reference to items that were representative of a group of things. I corrected the text to “ranging from…to…to” since the items were tangible nouns and I don’t see how you can range “through” something. I then saw the usage “ranging from…through…to” in a magazine article, also in reference to tangible items.

    I couldn’t find antyhing about this in my style manual.

    Was I wrong, or could this represent idiomatic usage that varies from place to place?

    Signed,

    Ranging from Uncertainty to Embarrassment

    • rewritelady Says:

      This is a tough question, and I’m not sure how to answer it. Maybe it would help if I could see the complete statement.

      • Naidia Woolf Says:

        “Range” connotes some kind of continuum. An example of proper usage would be “Prices ranged from $20,000 to $40,000” It is also permissible to write, “The price is between $20,000 and $40,000” (or “$20,000 – $40,000). Sometimes to avoid confusion (if I’m going to be out of town for a specific period, for example) I will specify that I will be away “Friday, August 20 through Monday, August 23.”

        Naidia Woolf


  2. “…products in the ’80s range from isothermal box-type superstructures through car transporters to superstructures (in aluminium and steel) for cattle transport…”

    For various reasons, this sentence structure must be used. My instinct is to write “…from…superstructures…to car transporters to superstructures for cattle transport….”

    (If I find the magazine example. I’ll send it, too.)

    • rewritelady Says:

      I would say “from… to… and…”

      I agree with you that “through” doesn’t work in this context, but I dislike the repetition of “to.”


  3. I like that. Good solution.

    By the way, I went to find the magazine example and found these two sentences instead in the same magazine:

    “Bush’s parade of … fiascoes – from Iraq to Katrina to Harriet Miers – convinced…”

    and

    “…commonly incorporate prefabricated components, from lumber…, to hardware, to factory-built windows and doors.”

  4. TD Says:

    Thank you! I’m so happy to see this addressed. So many people (many who should know better) are totally ignorant of the proper use of the apostrophe.

    A related peeve is using the apostrophe in plurals and in writing dates (it’s “the ’80s”, not “the 80’s”). And if I see another record store sign advertising “discount CD’s”, I will spontaneously crap a live kitten.


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