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Author Topic: Plurals, possessives, and contractions  (Read 6412 times)

Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Plurals, possessives, and contractions
« on: November 23, 2015, 08:28:39 AM »

Some members of the Forum feel that I have been too heavy-handed.

From my point of view, I am remarkably restrained, given that I know how to spell and many of our contributors do not.

Since TIGHAR is meant to be an educational organization, I hate letting bad spelling and grammar stand in posts, but I do not, as a general rule, complain in public about such public displays of disaffection for the language we use in all of our human relationships.

Mark Twain said something like, "I have no use for small-minded people who can think of only one way of writing a word." 

Be that as it may (I love Mark Twain!), from a technical standpoint, there is only one way to spell "its" and "it's".  They are two different strings of characters and mean two quite different things.  I have been so deeply exposed to student misspellings that there are days when I make the same mistakes they do.  But I do know the rules, and I do strive to teach what I believe and to believe what I teach.

1. Plurals are usually formed by adding "s" to words WITHOUT an apostrophe:
        one hat ----> two hats        1960 ----> 1960s    Hindu ---->Hindus

2. Possession by one person or thing is usually indicated by adding an apostrophe and an "s":
        The hat's brim was bent.  The Hindu's home was new.

3. Possession by more than one person or thing is indicated by adding an "s" and an apostrophe:
        The hats' labels were all sewn on backwards.
        The Sabres' playoff chances are melting like snow in springtime.

4. Contractions use an apostrophe to indicate missing letters:
        do not ----> don't
        cannot ----> can't     <Please note that cannot is one word, not two!>
        is not ----> isn't

5. Distinguish possessives from contractions:
        its      == "belongs to it"        "The groundhog saw its shadow."   
        it's     == "it is" or "it has"        "It's cold today.  It's been raining, too."

        your    == "belongs to you"    whose    == "belongs to who"
        you're    == "you are"            who's    == "who is"
   
"Its" is an exception to rules 1 and 3 above.  Adding the "s" doesn't turn "it" into a plural; possession, in this case, is NOT indicated by adding an apostrophe and "s"!

"It's" looks like a possessive because of that stupid apostrophe, but it's a contraction.

"Its" fits into a normal pattern of possessive pronouns, none of which use an apostrophe: his, hers, its, yours, ours, theirs.

    The ability to apply rules to specific situations,
    making allowances for exceptions to the rules,
    is one sign of intelligent life.

    An inability to spell three-letter words correctly
    is a sign of stupidity, carelessness,
    or an inadequate education.

            Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, "Certainly I can!"
             Then get busy and find out how to do it.
                                Theodore Roosevelt

        It's is not, it isn't ain't,
            and it's it's, not its, if you mean it is.
            If you don't, it's its.
        Then too, it's hers. It isn't her's.
            It isn't our's either.
            It's ours, and likewise yours and theirs.
                  Oxford University Press, Edpress News

I would remark that those who need this lesson know who they are, but I'm afraid that I might be wrong.  There is such a thing as "invincible ignorance," and in such cases, it's better not to disturb its slumbers.  :(
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Plurals, possessives, and contractions
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2015, 03:14:14 PM »

Jeff Neville posted the following this morning.  I removed it.  Marty felt it should be re-instated, so here it is:

"I love you Marty but God Almighty yer a hevvy handed Jesuit educater who ain't studdin' any shortcomins.

What is this place really - a collegiate-format place of pure academia, or a place to gather the interested but often unwashed to encourage a following - and hopefully some critical thought?  Hell, it's mostly a pitch - the academics of it are clearly subject to 'bucks for Buck Rogers', so why not loosen yer sphincter at times?

Holy cow... As in no kidding, there shouldn't be such sacred cows here...  ;)"
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Bob Smith

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Re: Plurals, possessives, and contractions
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2015, 03:31:44 PM »

Ya, well, when times is slow, youse gotta do sumpin to keep sane!!
Bob S.
 
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Bob Smith

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Re: Plurals, possessives, and contractions
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2015, 03:54:23 PM »

My sacred cow. Thanks Marty and we could all be a little better in this department!
Bob S.
 
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Ted G Campbell

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Re: Plurals, possessives, and contractions
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2015, 09:50:39 PM »

Holy cats!  Most of the replies are late at night with a couple of shots under the belt and no spell check on the forum - what do you aspect?
Ted
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Plurals, possessives, and contractions
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2015, 12:50:18 AM »

It all depends on the COLOUR of the ALUMINIUM, after all this is an International Forum so you would expect some translator issues.

If Richie was good enough so is anyone and that’s my 2 degrees and a masters worth (oh and a medically recognised learning related condition)

Enjoy the football, you know 22 men kicking a ball about!
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Plurals, possessives, and contractions
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2015, 07:15:40 AM »

LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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JNev

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Re: Plurals, possessives, and contractions
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2015, 09:17:40 AM »

Thanks Ric and Marty and gang... Hope yer all havin a grate dey!
- Jeff Neville

Former Member 3074R
 
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