"It's"

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"It's"

Postby n7a7v7i » Sat Apr 11, 2009 10:19 pm UTC

Hmm.

Just a couple of thoughts on what is, in my opinion, a very useless distinction that should really be done away with.
So, basically, here's the story:

I remember a few years back in middle school, I got in a really heated debate with a teacher over the "it's/its" distinction, and she won. I'd never been so angry over grammatical rules in my life. Anyway, the fact was, by the current standard of Americans, Brits, and most other English speakers all over the world, she was indeed correct. But not in my book. It's true, the context in which the word was in was indeed possessive.

But WHY?!

Why do we have two different words? Why... is it incorrect to use an apostrophe in the word "its" to mark the possessive?
Yes, in English, we have a very special lil' marker that I am personally very fond of. It's simply ridiculous to try to live without it, for us Americans. We've all heard native English speakers trying to learn Spanish, French, or some other funny language. And we've all had a strange moment when we realized that these other languages that dominate our world simply do not have an equivalent to " 's ".
Sorry for the extra spaces.
Anyway, we use the market to show possession. It's a very simple concept. But apparently not simple enough, because for our pronouns, we have special possessive forms, as do most other Latin-ish languages. I'm talking, of course, about "my/mine, his/her, your/'yours'(is it correct?), their/'theirs', our/'ours', etc.". Personally, I get a funny feeling when using 'yours', 'ours', and 'theirs', and I wouldn't know or care too much about whether or not an apostrophe is necessary in these cases, or if these forms should even exist. But nonetheless, we find them in American English, on their way to being standard.

So why can't we use "it's" for the possessive? I can say "Robert's toothbrush was on fire". I can also say "The dog's toothbrush was on fire". But according to my American peers, I cannot say "It's toothbrush was on fire", without being stupid.

What's the dealio, yo'?!

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Re: "It's"

Postby goofy » Sat Apr 11, 2009 10:52 pm UTC

n7a7v7i wrote:Personally, I get a funny feeling when using 'yours', 'ours', and 'theirs', and I wouldn't know or care too much about whether or not an apostrophe is necessary in these cases, or if these forms should even exist. But nonetheless, we find them in American English, on their way to being standard.


Wait, hold on... you're saying that yours, ours and theirs are "on their way to being standard"? These are completely normal possessive pronouns. That book is mine, those shoes are theirs, this house is ours, this hat is yours, etc.

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Re: "It's"

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Apr 11, 2009 11:07 pm UTC

Possessive pronouns and determiners don't have apostrophes. What's so difficult about that?

And spelling its and it's differently makes sense for the same reasons that spelling two, to, and too differently makes sense. Or any other pair/trio/quartet? of homophones.
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Re: "It's"

Postby sje46 » Sat Apr 11, 2009 11:23 pm UTC

Well, I'm sure you've heard this, but "it's" is already a word, a contraction of "it is". Only one of them should have the apostrophe in them or else we would get confused too much. I hate it too. And I hate how if a quoted word is at the end of a sentence, the period goes in the quote as well.
We've all heard native English speakers trying to learn Spanish, French, or some other funny language. And we've all had a strange moment when we realized that these other languages that dominate our world simply do not have an equivalent to " 's ".

Spanish doesn't have an equivalent (other than "de") and I don't know about French. But many many languages do have an equivalent, including the original Romance language, Latin. It's called the Dative. The possessive is a type of dative, I believe. While Spaish and French have conjugations for verbs, many languages have declensions for nouns. To make a singular noun into an object in Latin first declension, you change the "us" into a "um", and you know that it's the direct object. So the whole possessive "'s" is really just the only declension in the langauge, besides the pronouns, like how "whom" is the object form of "who" and stuff. So many languages--Greek, Latin, Russian, and I'm sure many more--do have an equivalent to "'s". In latin, it is--just a small rule of thumb, because it is much more complicated than this--singular "us" words are "i", and singular "a" words are "ae" as possessive. Most other singular words have "is" as the possesive. In plural they are "orum", "arum" and "um" respectively. Not that it matters. XD
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Re: "It's"

Postby Why Two Kay » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:19 am UTC

sje46 wrote:To make a singular noun into an object in Latin first second declension, you change the "us" into a "um", and you know that it's the direct object.

Fixed.

sje46 wrote:In latin, it is--just a small rule of thumb, because it is much more complicated than this--singular "us" words are "i", and singular "a" words are "ae" as possessive. Most other singular words have "is" as the possesive. In plural they are "orum", "arum" and "um" respectively. Not that it matters. XD


-us words could be second or fourth declension. Second declension has -i as the genitive (possessive) singular, but 4th declension keeps the -us.

(And, technically, we should be referring to the word's ending by its genitive singular, as that is how they are organized into declensions. Looking at the nominative singular is ambiguous, what declension is portus (nominative singular)? Unless you have it memorized, I have to tell you that the word is portus, portus N, in which case it is now 4th declension)/
tl;dr - I said nothing important.

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Re: "It's"

Postby sje46 » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:27 am UTC

Oh god. I cant believe I said dative instead of genitive.
I got confused because "us" is so much more common--or recognizable as a Latin ending--so I used it first, so in my mind I thought of it as first declension, when if I thought about it for a second, I would have said "no, it's second, stupid".
This is what happens when you don't read over your posts. XD I swear, I'm in my third year. I'm reading virgil's eclogues right now. I know all this. XD Thanks though.
-us words could be second or fourth declension. Second declension has -i as the genitive (possessive) singular, but 4th declension keeps the -us.
I know. That's why I said "most other words". 4th and 5th declensions are not quite rare compared to first and second. I said it was a rule of thumb.
Oh God, that post was a mess.
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Re: "It's"

Postby Simbera » Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:08 pm UTC

It took me a long time to get the it's/its distinction to make sense to me, for largely the same reasons as you stated - it's looks like it should be a possessive, as with Robert's. This is basically how I grokked it in the end:

You need to be able to distinguish between the two - like with their/they're/there, they are homophones but have very different meanings and require different orthography to reflect this.

"It's" could go either way; it follows fairly intuitively that it works under the "Robert's pen" system but also under the "John's going swimming" system. But "its" can really only work one way - it can only be the possessive, you can't get "Its time to dance!" to work no matter how hard you try (without changing the meaning).

Also, just try and keep "his and hers and its" in your mind as much as possible.

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Re: "It's"

Postby n7a7v7i » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:27 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Possessive pronouns and determiners don't have apostrophes. What's so difficult about that?

And spelling its and it's differently makes sense for the same reasons that spelling two, to, and too differently makes sense. Or any other pair/trio/quartet? of homophones.


Don't get me wrong, it's not that it's DIFFICULT, it's that it just seems like a very silly rule that I simply refuse to follow. I don't see the point of keeping the two words separate. Yes, we do have different spellings for "two", "to", and "too". But we all know teenagers fail to recognize this all too often.
But my argument is better than that, and you know it.

I'm saying that sure, they have two different meanings/contexts, and they are definitely different words, but they still should be spelled the same.

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Re: "It's"

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:58 pm UTC

n7a7v7i wrote:I'm saying that sure, they have two different meanings/contexts, and they are definitely different words, but they still should be spelled the same.

And I'm saying: why? They're different words with different meanings and different histories and only one of them is an actual contraction. So why should they be spelled the same?
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Re: "It's"

Postby sje46 » Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:10 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
n7a7v7i wrote:I'm saying that sure, they have two different meanings/contexts, and they are definitely different words, but they still should be spelled the same.

And I'm saying: why? They're different words with different meanings and different histories and only one of them is an actual contraction. So why should they be spelled the same?

I'm thinking that there would be a lot more confusion caused by the two being spelled the same than what it is now. Not that people are being confused now. The fact that the possessive for "it" has no apostrophe while almost all other possesives do is a minor incosistency, and a non-issue.
EDIT: especially since there are no pronouns with possessives.
Last edited by sje46 on Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:15 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "It's"

Postby Silas » Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

n7a7v7i wrote:Don't get me wrong, it's not that it's DIFFICULT, it's that it just seems like a very silly rule that I simply refuse to follow. I don't see the point of keeping the two words separate. Yes, we do have different spellings for "two", "to", and "too". But we all know teenagers fail to recognize this all too often.
But my argument is better than that, and you know it.

It's really not. It's falls in a category with can't, we'll, and you're; you're combining two words, and the apostrophe stands in for the letters that got pared away.
Its, on the other hand, falls in with the possessive determiners my, your, his, her, our, their, and whose, none of which have apostrophes; that's just not how they're formed. These, if I'm not mistaken, predate the widespread use of contractions like it's.

Possessives of nouns resemble the first category; the convention is derived from the old English (not specifically Old English, though) genitive ending for nouns, -es; in spelling, we drop the -e-, and replace it with an apostrophe. (someone more versed in English derivation, confirm this?)

Edit: Is your point that the language would still work if we dropped the distinction? Because that's not very informative. We could switch to writing in Rot13, and after fifty years, we'd all be used to it. Just because it'd work as well as the way we do things now doesn't make it a good idea.
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Re: "It's"

Postby Lord Aurora » Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:19 pm UTC

Silas wrote:Possessives of nouns resemble the first category; the convention is derived from the old English (not specifically Old English, though) genitive ending for nouns, -es; in spelling, we drop the -e-, and replace it with an apostrophe. (someone more versed in English derivation, confirm this?)
I won't bother confirming it, because that'd be too easy for you, but I will point you to a delightful online resource you can look at regarding the subject:
http://www.wmich.edu/~medinst/resources ... lnoun.html
Peter Baker's Electronic Introduction to Old English (I have the actual textbook lying around here somewhere). Quite useful and fun. The chapter that I just linked you to deals with nouns and has some good information.

Also have other resources regarding derivation, but those will come later, when I'm not feeling so lazy.
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Re: "It's"

Postby n7a7v7i » Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:25 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
n7a7v7i wrote:I'm saying that sure, they have two different meanings/contexts, and they are definitely different words, but they still should be spelled the same.

And I'm saying: why? They're different words with different meanings and different histories and only one of them is an actual contraction. So why should they be spelled the same?


Well, you know, that's a really good question. But I have no answer.

SO, instead, I'll go with something completely different.

Is using "it's" as the possessive as well really "wrong"? Will it be useful in fifty years to keep the distinction at all?

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Re: "It's"

Postby Rinsaikeru » Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:23 am UTC

Like anything else in language, wrong and right are determined by use. At the moment, aside from the oblivious set and the rebellious set, the standard use is its for possessive. I don't see why adding a punctuation mark would make it easier at all. It's a pretty straightforward thing if you think about it--and if you don't you can complain about it online I guess.
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Re: "It's"

Postby goofy » Mon Apr 13, 2009 3:13 pm UTC

The apostrophe was only a moderately successful device, and it is probably coming to the end of its usefulness, certainly for forming plurals and marking possession. It may only be retained for contractions.
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Re: "It's"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:11 pm UTC

Except, it was never really the "correct" way to form plurals, and I think pretty much everyone still uses it for possession, even if they don't remember the 's versus s' rule properly.
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Re: "It's"

Postby n7a7v7i » Mon Apr 13, 2009 7:16 pm UTC

Rinsaikeru wrote:Like anything else in language, wrong and right are determined by use. At the moment, aside from the oblivious set and the rebellious set, the standard use is its for possessive. I don't see why adding a punctuation mark would make it easier at all. It's a pretty straightforward thing if you think about it--and if you don't you can complain about it online I guess.


Well, fuck it then.

Is there anyone that agrees with me about this?

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Re: "It's"

Postby poprocks and coke » Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:14 pm UTC

n7a7v7i wrote:
Rinsaikeru wrote:Like anything else in language, wrong and right are determined by use. At the moment, aside from the oblivious set and the rebellious set, the standard use is its for possessive. I don't see why adding a punctuation mark would make it easier at all. It's a pretty straightforward thing if you think about it--and if you don't you can complain about it online I guess.


Well, fuck it then.

Is there anyone that agrees with me about this?


No.

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Re: "It's"

Postby goofy » Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:35 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Except, it was never really the "correct" way to form plurals, and I think pretty much everyone still uses it for possession, even if they don't remember the 's versus s' rule properly.


There was formerly a respectable tradition (17–19c) of using the apostrophe for noun plurals

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Re: "It's"

Postby n7a7v7i » Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:27 pm UTC

poprocks and coke wrote:
n7a7v7i wrote:
Rinsaikeru wrote:Like anything else in language, wrong and right are determined by use. At the moment, aside from the oblivious set and the rebellious set, the standard use is its for possessive. I don't see why adding a punctuation mark would make it easier at all. It's a pretty straightforward thing if you think about it--and if you don't you can complain about it online I guess.


Well, fuck it then.

Is there anyone that agrees with me about this?


No.


Well then fuck you guys. Bunch of bloody linguistic elitists, that's all y'all are.

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Re: "It's"

Postby Hausdog » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:42 am UTC

Well then. Nice knowing you, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

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Re: "It's"

Postby Silas » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:53 am UTC

Hausdog wrote:Well then. Nice knowing you, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Ah! I finally understand that expression! The door shouldn't hit you because you should be leaving too fast. That'd been bothering me every time I heard it for years.
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Re: "It's"

Postby n7a7v7i » Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:52 am UTC

Hausdog wrote:Well then. Nice knowing you, don't let the door hit you on the way out.


Hmm.

I think I should've been a bit more.... precise, with my semantics, anyway. I don't mean that I'm done posting here, or anything like that. We* say fuck for so many different reasons that it's hard to keep track of it all, but clearly you guys just don't know how to treat a proper ñøóß around here.
Anyway, I'm deeply sorry if you take any offense at/from the word fuck. It means nothing truly vulgar to me, unless ridicule or hatred is implied. But there is a huge difference from me being thoroughly pissed about disagreement, and then true hatred.

So, y'know, I will let the door hit me on the way out. And then again, on the way back in.

I really thought this would be a nice inter-web-spot to conversate about language and all of its wonder, but I s'pose the kind of language enthusiasts found here just aren't up for any real discussion about it.
C'mon guys, don't let this die so fast. We were all children once, and we all know what it's like to learn contractions, possessive forms, and everything about "it's". Why must y'all be such unwelcoming assholes to honest conversation?

*I guess this would refer to all the Spanglish speakers I grew up with, because of the liberal use of ching- that we have in Spanish, but also most teens I know.

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Re: "It's"

Postby phlip » Thu Apr 16, 2009 4:52 am UTC

If you want to use "it's" as a posessive, I do hope you use "hi's" and "her's" for consistency. Or possibly "him's".

And yes, as a kid it did grate me a little... until someone (probably one of my parents, I don't remember) pointed out that none of his/hers/theirs/ours have apostrophes either. The solution is simple: have teachers actually point this out in school, rather than claiming incorrectly (as mine did) that "its" is a special case and nothing else is like it.

As for us now knowing "how to treat a proper [new person] around here"... I don't know where you're getting this from. We tend not to have a problem with new people, but we don't particularly respond well to people (new or not) that propose something new, without giving any real reasoning for why it's superior, and act surprised and belligerent when people don't suddenly jump on board. And we also aren't particularly moved by ragequits. The use of the word "fuck" tends not to fucking bother us one fucking bit... it's the message behind it that people react to ("Well then fuck you guys" isn't the best way to get people on-side, even if you reword it without the expletive).

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enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
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Re: "It's"

Postby hocl » Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:32 am UTC

Silas wrote:
Hausdog wrote:Well then. Nice knowing you, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Ah! I finally understand that expression! The door shouldn't hit you because you should be leaving too fast. That'd been bothering me every time I heard it for years.
That, or it's being used sarcastically or something.

sje46 wrote:So the whole possessive "'s" is really just the only declension in the langauge, besides the pronouns, like how "whom" is the object form of "who" and stuff.
I'm pretty sure that it's not a declension, which is where the confusion comes in. In English, number is the ONLY declension for nouns. Possession is handled with " 's", which is a clitic, not a declension. "Robert" and "Robert's" are the same word, just with a clitic added. "It" and "its", however, are different words; "its" is a declension of "it". Unlike nouns, pronouns do have separate declensions for possession. Since the apostrophe is part of the clitic, and not part of a declension, pronouns do not take apostrophes. This also causes problems because some pronouns, such as "that" and "this", have no possessive declension; the sentence "I'm bringing in a car that's transmission is not working" is not correct; one must use the possessive declension of "who" ("I'm bringing in a car whose transmission is not working"), even though the car is inanimate.

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Re: "It's"

Postby Simbera » Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:31 am UTC

n7a7v7i wrote:I really thought this would be a nice inter-web-spot to conversate about language and all of its wonder, but I s'pose the kind of language enthusiasts found here just aren't up for any real discussion about it.


No, you couldn't find anyone who would agree with you in the meatspace, so you came online in the hope that the Wild Radicals of the Internet would agree with you. Then they didn't, and you whinged. You weren't looking for conversation, you were looking for validation.

People objected to

n7a7v7i wrote:Is there anyone that agrees with me about this?


and

n7a7v7i wrote:Bunch of bloody linguistic elitists, that's all y'all are.


not

n7a7v7i wrote:Well then fuck you guys.


And incidentally, I did reply to you in an entirely non-judgmental and constructive fashion but you completely ignored my post, so the pity-me act is slightly lost on me.

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Re: "It's"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:42 pm UTC

hocl wrote:I'm pretty sure that it's not a declension, which is where the confusion comes in. In English, number is the ONLY declension for nouns. Possession is handled with " 's", which is a clitic, not a declension. "Robert" and "Robert's" are the same word, just with a clitic added.

Well the 's comes from an older genitive case ending which really was a declension. So was it a declension that changed into a clitic, or is it a declension (at least in single words) that is now formed by adding a clitic?
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Re: "It's"

Postby n7a7v7i » Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:57 pm UTC

phlip wrote:If you want to use "it's" as a posessive, I do hope you use "hi's" and "her's" for consistency. Or possibly "him's".

And yes, as a kid it did grate me a little... until someone (probably one of my parents, I don't remember) pointed out that none of his/hers/theirs/ours have apostrophes either. The solution is simple: have teachers actually point this out in school, rather than claiming incorrectly (as mine did) that "its" is a special case and nothing else is like it.

As for us now knowing "how to treat a proper [new person] around here"... I don't know where you're getting this from. We tend not to have a problem with new people, but we don't particularly respond well to people (new or not) that propose something new, without giving any real reasoning for why it's superior, and act surprised and belligerent when people don't suddenly jump on board. And we also aren't particularly moved by ragequits. The use of the word "fuck" tends not to fucking bother us one fucking bit... it's the message behind it that people react to ("Well then fuck you guys" isn't the best way to get people on-side, even if you reword it without the expletive).


Well, first of all, your initial argument is so weak that I'd hope that I wouldn't have to explain why it's so insanely stupid. But I'll break it down anyway, because I've got nothing better to do right now.
By that exact logic, if we don't use "whom" in place of "who" whenever the word becomes an object, we should use "he" instead of "him, "she" and not "her", etc. But I truly do hope that most of the others here can understand the problem in this line of thinking. The initial assumption that who is equal to he, she, I, and you is entirely incorrect. They are simply a different class of pronouns, and for whatever reason, the general population has found that it is highly useful to have two forms of the third person pronoun, but not for the interrogative pronoun.
Same thing applies here. "He" cannot serve the purpose of a dummy pronoun, as it does. Take the following example: "It's raining". Many linguists would argue that "it" in the sentence is an empty pronoun, void of any true equivalent. But you could not do the same with any other personal pronoun (you could, however, ask "Who's raining?", interestingly enough).
So it is clear that "it" is just not entirely identical in its grammatical rules as the other personal pronouns. It's just a different type of thing.

Why should all the same rules apply?

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Re: "It's"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:22 pm UTC

n7a7v7i wrote:So it is clear that "it" is just not entirely identical in its grammatical rules as the other personal pronouns. It's just a different type of thing.

Why should all the same rules apply?

Yes, it's a bit different from personal pronouns, because it happens not to apply to persons. But it is absolutely in the same grammatical category as them, as it can take on all the same roles in a sentence. So your example with who/whom isn't useful, because those two really *are* completely different in the way they function. (They can begin information questions, for one thing, which personal pronouns can't. And they can never be the subject of the independent clause of a declarative statement, while personal pronouns are all the time.)

Also, it's worth noting that the possessive related to "who" is still alive and well as "whose", which also doesn't have an unneeded apostrophe...
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Re: "It's"

Postby Silas » Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:55 pm UTC

I'd also like to point out that 'it' isn't the only personal pronoun that can be used abstractly. You can come up with a use for any of them, except the first person pronouns, that doesn't involve reference to anyone or anything specific.

You can find all sorts of things in dumpsters.
He (or she) knows how, who's done it before.
It's not not as though this is tricky.
They'll throw away anything, these days.
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Re: "It's"

Postby hocl » Fri Apr 17, 2009 2:04 am UTC

n7a7v7i wrote:By that exact logic, if we don't use "whom" in place of "who" whenever the word becomes an object, we should use "he" instead of "him, "she" and not "her", etc. But I truly do hope that most of the others here can understand the problem in this line of thinking.
I think that most of the others here can understand the problem in saying "by that exact logic" and then proceeding to attack a strawman that uses a completely different sort of "logic".

The initial assumption that who is equal to he, she, I, and you is entirely incorrect. They are simply a different class of pronouns, and for whatever reason, the general population has found that it is highly useful to have two forms of the third person pronoun, but not for the interrogative pronoun.
Simply because "who" is now used as both "who" and "whom" does not mean that it is a different class of pronoun.

Same thing applies here. "He" cannot serve the purpose of a dummy pronoun, as it does.
Even if that were true, noting a relatively trivial difference and then saying that the word should therefore be spelled differently makes no sense.

So it is clear that "it" is just not entirely identical in its grammatical rules as the other personal pronouns.
Identical to, not identical as.

gmalivuk wrote:Also, it's worth noting that the possessive related to "who" is still alive and well as "whose", which also doesn't have an unneeded apostrophe...
Well, it either has no apostrophe at all, or it has an unneeded apostrophe.

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Re: "It's"

Postby a Person » Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:14 am UTC

People! English is an illogical language. Deal with it.
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Re: "It's"

Postby n7a7v7i » Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:51 pm UTC

hocl wrote:
n7a7v7i wrote:By that exact logic, if we don't use "whom" in place of "who" whenever the word becomes an object, we should use "he" instead of "him, "she" and not "her", etc. But I truly do hope that most of the others here can understand the problem in this line of thinking.
I think that most of the others here can understand the problem in saying "by that exact logic" and then proceeding to attack a strawman that uses a completely different sort of "logic".

The initial assumption that who is equal to he, she, I, and you is entirely incorrect. They are simply a different class of pronouns, and for whatever reason, the general population has found that it is highly useful to have two forms of the third person pronoun, but not for the interrogative pronoun.
Simply because "who" is now used as both "who" and "whom" does not mean that it is a different class of pronoun.

Same thing applies here. "He" cannot serve the purpose of a dummy pronoun, as it does.
Even if that were true, noting a relatively trivial difference and then saying that the word should therefore be spelled differently makes no sense.

So it is clear that "it" is just not entirely identical in its grammatical rules as the other personal pronouns.
Identical to, not identical as.

gmalivuk wrote:Also, it's worth noting that the possessive related to "who" is still alive and well as "whose", which also doesn't have an unneeded apostrophe...
Well, it either has no apostrophe at all, or it has an unneeded apostrophe.


Well, even gmailivuk agrees with me that "who" is indeed a different class of pronoun. The only part you guys seem to be missing is that the way I see it, "it" is far more than special enough to have a special case for a possessive form..... But really, that part is mostly an opinion of taste. I guess you'll just never agree with me on that one. So I give up on that attempt there.

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Re: "It's"

Postby paulrowe » Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:31 pm UTC

a Person wrote:People! English is an illogical language. Deal with it.

I think this is a pretty reasonable response. English is one of those languages that is not governed well by rules. What rules one might try to force on the English language are always broken. (Please don't bother me with the "All generalities are false" bit....)

I would say that all pronouns have either five or ten declensions depending on whether you want to include plurals. Wikipedia calls them inflections. To summarize, I would classify them as nominative (subjective), objective, reflexive, possessive (possessive pronoun), and genitive (possessive determiner). Wikipedia separates out "who" as a relative pronoun, but, like the personal pronouns, it has all the inflections (barring the reflexive) of a personal pronoun. This is probably because "who" is the only relative pronoun that is also a personal pronoun.

I would essentially sum it up to say that English breaks whatever rules there might be when it comes to forming the inflections of pronouns.

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Re: "It's"

Postby Simbera » Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:12 am UTC

Point of order: English is not illogical, it's complicated. It only seems illogical to those who don't fully understand it. There are perfectly logical rules for why things are the way they are - granted, there's a lot of them and they aren't uniform across the board, but they're still there.

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Re: "It's"

Postby goofy » Sat Apr 18, 2009 4:19 am UTC

And also, English is governed by rules. All languages are. The fact that we can describe the pronouns of English and all the forms they take shows that there are rules.

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Re: "It's"

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Apr 18, 2009 4:24 am UTC

Also, the fact that it's possible to speak not-English means that there must be some set of rules that need to be followed for speaking English.
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Re: "It's"

Postby n7a7v7i » Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:59 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Also, the fact that it's possible to speak not-English means that there must be some set of rules that need to be followed for speaking English.


While I think I usually agree with your type of assumptions about the English language, I think this is complete bullshit.

I do honestly think that every single last rule that you could imagine exists for English could be broken in a collection of sentences, and each example could be understood by at least one person.

Something like "Me eats-like for to" might not make much sense to you or me, but to another English speaker with a different language background, they might interpret this to be semi-valid, albeit sounding rather ridiculous.

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Re: "It's"

Postby goofy » Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:03 pm UTC

n7a7v7i wrote:Something like "Me eats-like for to" might not make much sense to you or me, but to another English speaker with a different language background, they might interpret this to be semi-valid, albeit sounding rather ridiculous.


How could an English speaker interpret that sentence? It's not English. You've broken the rules of English to make it.

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Re: "It's"

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Apr 18, 2009 11:13 pm UTC

And being able to understand a phrase like that doesn't make it English any more than being able to understand a set of hand gestures makes it ASL.

Also, whatever you think about that nonsense bunch of words you typed, surely you agree that "Eso no es lo que dijo tu madre anoche" isn't English? Which means there must be some rule about what constitutes English and what doesn't, even if the actual set of utterances covered by the rule changes over time.
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