It’s Not Acceptable To Keep Making This Mistake

It’s Not Acceptable To Keep Making This Mistake

I have almost resigned myself to the reality that ignorant people who trust everything their smartphone suggests will never choose correctly between “its” and “it’s”. However, there is no way that I am going to accept the same error showing up in official documents that have been the subject of repeated drafts.

Pictured above is the front cover of the workplace agreement that currently applies to KFC restaurant managers. That’s an important document, one that was presumably the subject of negotiation, and one that was certainly seen by multiple people. Yet not one of those people noticed the glaring error on the front page.

It’s is short for it is. It is not possessive. In this context, to use “it’s” is flat-out wrong.

We have a detailed Mind Your Language guide on the correct use of apostrophes. In this area, everyone needs to try harder. Accuracy matters.

Lifehacker’s Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


  • My personal pet hate – loose instead of lose.
    The Americans have brought many fine things to this world. Language is not counted among them.

    • You realise that the term “Americans” include everyone from the Americas? North America, Central America, South America. So you include Canadians and Mexicans and Brazilians?

      • In every day use “Americans” is obviously referring specifically to people from the USA. If you meet someone who says they’re American, are you in any doubt as to whether they’re from the USA, or rather Canada, Mexico, or Brazil?

  • Agreed this is bad. What is even less excusable is the use of apostrophes when trying to write a plural. Primary offenders appear to be acronyms – CD’s, DJ’s – but still shows up in dictionary words.

    When I typed “DJ’s” (with the quotation marks) into Google, half of the top 10 results were DJs or DJ services who don’t even know the right way to refer to themselves. Shame.

  • Apostrophes … what have you doooonnnnnee!?

    Somehow, people learn that ” ‘ ” means “Hold onto yer hats, “s” incoming!”

  • So much passive aggression on this page! Other things I dislike – non-constructive criticism; self-appointed spelling and grammar police; keyboard warriors.

    Are these things that you would say, or attitudes you would have, face-to-face (or more likely, face-to-back). You’d probably get punched right in the tit.

    • Are these things that you would say, or attitudes you would have, face-to-face (or more likely, face-to-back). You’d probably get punched right in the tit.


      And yes (or at least, the shoulder a lot).

      I don’t know if it’s non-constructive criticism, though. The English language has rules, and it’s constructive to point its rules out if someone gets them wrong. Most of the pedantry in Mind Your Language posts is in relatively good humor, though, so I wouldn’t get too worked up over it. The angry stuff tends to be people jumping on another poster who incorrectly corrected someone, or made a different error in doing so (a variation of Muphry’s Law).

      In Angus’ example, that Agreement is a very important legal document, where bad spelling can have some serious outcomes. If they can’t get the spelling correct on the title page, I’d be concerned about the contents. When it comes to contracts and the like, bad spelling can have some serious consequences:

  • I know it’s correct to use “its” for ownership but I refuse to do so as it totally contradicts the convention of using ‘s for ownership. Who decided the necessity of “it’s” as the conjunction of it is was so important that “it” in possessive form should defy the convention of ‘s??? Personally I would have said write “it is” you lazy bastards and leave “it’s” to denote ownership.

  • It’s an oldie, but a goodie. I still love cracking out:

    I like giving copies to teachers. Some feel they can’t put it in the classroom, only the break room, which is a shame. No-one’s getting educated, there!

    (Edit for the pedants: Yes, only loosely related to the ‘possessive it’ anomaly.)

    • Nice. Thanks, @transientmind

      It even employs the rarely cited rule of using an apostrophe to represent dropped letters (sorry – “usin'”).

      The MYL debates here frequently put me in mind of this pressing but neglected modern punctuation dilemma:

      • Actually, I believe this critical issue has encouraged (or at least prevented active resistance to ^_^) the anime smiley.

  • Another good one in a similar vein is whose and who’s:

    Whose jacket is that? (Possessive)

    Who’s coming to dinner? (Contraction)

    If you’re saying “who is” then it’s who’s, just like if you’re saying “it is”, then it’s it’s. (;p)

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