Its never too late to learn!

Sue is holding The Red Marker blogathon for us to vent about what gets our goat in usage of language (any language).

Here’s my entry….. “Its open now!” screamed a banner, advertising a new shop in the neighbourhood. “Its too late, we will do this tomorrow”, remarked a colleague on the office communicator. “It’s all yours”, said a promotion mailer.

Talk of acts of omission and commission! What the first two actually meant to say was “It is….”. And the last one wanted to say “Its…”.

(Edited to add: The last one is right. A wrong one would be something like “The monkey scratched it’s head…”)

Many people seem to think that the apostrophe is a cool punctuation mark to add to a word and the other half seems to think it is a waste of space.The misuse of the apostrophe is the most common error that I seem to notice.

The apostrophe mark is commonly used to denote two things – one to denote possession (like India’s)and the other to denote omission of a letter in a word(like doesn’t). In common usage though, it gets used interchangeably. It’s becomes its and vice versa.

One more type of bad apostrophe usage is to add it to a word which is a plural. Like apple’s, orange’s etc., when you actually want to say apples, oranges. This is called Greengrocer’s apostrophe! More on this in the delightful book “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” by Lynne Truss. Needless to say, the first chapter is the one I enjoyed most 🙂 And more elaborate gyan on apostrophes here!

Another thing that amuses me no end is confusing the meaning of similar sounding words. In my organization, I encounter this often. Thus I keep getting “gentle remainders” for tasks to be completed! We create an “echo system” and we “role out” an initiative! We attach documents “hearwith”! Yeah, seriously.

We “cease” the moment and “raise” to occasions!

Long back I had a colleague who asked her boss to “whet” her work! It was hilarious when the boss asked me what she meant to convey! Sometimes, when I see such usage my mind gets truly befuddled. I go and look it up to check if my understanding of the word(s) is right 🙂

While Wren and Martin may be passé nowadays, a good dictionary (and a thesaurus) would help clear most of these confusions! But with text message type of communication being quite in vogue these days amongst youngsters and also in offices, I think its (! :)) going to be an amusing and irksome experience for us punctuation loving souls….Oops!

P.S: And in Tamil, my mother tongue, using the la(ல)  for Lla (ள) or zha(ழ) really irritates me.

P.P.S: The “Its” in the title is quite deliberate 🙂

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  • dipali  On June 2, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Oops here- the third apostrophe is correct- ‘It’s all yours’ is correct.
    If ‘it’ were referring to something that ‘it’ possessed, only then would I not use an apostrophe there e.g. the dog chewed its bone, the pen leaked its ink all over the page, the kite lost its tail.

    • myfloatingthoughts  On June 2, 2010 at 9:15 pm

      Oops, realised the error after I hit ‘Publish’. Thanks for pointing it out Dipali!

  • PV  On June 2, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    All depends on the what the meaning of its i(t)s – to paraphrase Bill Clinton 🙂

    Mispronounciation of letters in Tamil – especially in songs/news – Aaaaaaaarggggggghhhh !!

    • myfloatingthoughts  On June 3, 2010 at 7:31 pm

      Hmm, perspective 🙂 And while we are at it….pronunciation is the noun, pronounce is the verb 🙂

  • Sue  On June 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Cool, thanks for posting. I’ll link up today. ‘Ceasing the day’ (and the rest) gave me a good laugh!

    • myfloatingthoughts  On June 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks Sue!

  • PNA  On June 3, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Yes, a very very common mistake 🙂 when will people learn

  • Roop Rai  On September 7, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    tagged ya. hope it’s alright.

    • myfloatingthoughts  On September 8, 2010 at 7:27 pm

      Thanks for linking this space up Roop. And welcome here 🙂


  • By When the wheels churn … « banalities of my life on September 7, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    […] an “IKB now”. 🙂 } As a part of Red Marker Blogathon, some others lamented about the improper usage of apostrophe (which I absolutely abhor as well), some wrote about words being used to express what they are not […]

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