I interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you this editing reminder: Stop writing it’s when you should be writing its.
It’s is a contraction for it is or it has. Forever and ever. Amen.
So, you would write: The scruffy dog scratched at its fur. No apostrophe. An ’s would mean: The scruffy dog scratched at it is fur. Makes no sense.
When to blow off the ’s
Plurals seem to cause the greatest misuse of ’s. According to The Chicago Manual of Style, these plurals should be written with no apostrophe:
- the three Rs
- the 1990s
- BSs, MAs, PhDs
- The McAdams (or any family name on your holiday cards or invitation list)
- As for her grades, she got three As, two Bs, and one C. (Grades are not italicized.)
- ifs and buts
- dos and don’ts
- threes and fours
- yeses and nos
- x’s and y’s and all other lowercase letters (Note: Single letters that represent themselves are usually italicized. The ’s is not. However, italics is not used in these two common expressions: Mind your p’s and q’s. Make sure you dot the i’s and cross the t’s.)
Get it? Good. Write on.
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