Everyone who knows me also knows I am one of the world’s worst typists and probably semi-legendary for minor typos. But that doesn’t mean I can’t spot one, and one that constantly annoys me is the misuse of its and it’s.
I’ve been guilty of it myself, to the extent that in exasperation, the difference was drummed into me by Sheila Cranna and Louise Cassell at Marvel UK. (They even pinned a large note to my wall about “Its NOT It’s!” above my desk while editor of Doctor Who Magazine).
It’s is a contraction of two words: it is. Its is possessive, like whose and his and hers. But so many people get it wrong…
Does it really matter? After all, English is an evolving language. We don’t use English the same way as Chaucer or Shakespeare, or Dickens.
Well yes, because this isn’t a spelling error. It’s a basic grammatical error that big companies cannot seem to get their head around, and my feeling is always that if they can make such a basic error as this, then what other basic mistakes are they making?
You can buy a poster noting other misuses of the apostrophe from the Angry Flower web site.