It's Still Not OK To Get 'Its' Wrong

Mind Your Language deals with a wide range of linguistic screw-ups, but there is only one candidate for the most common mistake in current written English. Step forward, it's being used when its is needed.

The photo above shows the caption on a bottle of wine I consumed on a recent Qantas flight. As you can see, the florid description of the wine on the reverse label includes the phrase "It's maritime climate produces". This is wrong. It should read "Its maritime climate produces". The incorrect version would expand to "It is maritime climate produces", which makes no sense whatsoever. This can't really be blamed on auto-correct. It can potentially be blamed on laziness.

This wine has been bottled specifically for Qantas, and I imagine there was an approval process for the design of the label. Evidently, checking the spelling wasn't deemed an important part of that process. Airlines of all organisations should know that small details are important. Accuracy matters. If you can't tell when to use its or it's, see our detailed guide to using apostrophes properly.

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


Comments

    There is, of course, the old standby of "it's" = "it is". There is also the comparison with the other possessive pronouns, "his" and "hers"; they don't have apostrophes either.

    Always remember: http://www.hrwiki.org/wiki/local_news

    Ohhhhhhh - If you want it to be possessive, it's just 'I-T-S.' But, if it's supposed to be a contraction then it's 'I-T-apostrophe-S,'... Scalawag.

    These kinds of mistakes are appearing more and more in places where you'd expect the people responsible for editing and approving the content to have a higher level of literacy.

    If they can't get even basic grammar right, then what else about their products and services are not right?

      I always notice these kinds of things, but I wouldn't always take it as an indicator of bad quality.

      I've seen articles and papers written by professors and PhD holders, and some of them have a terrible command of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

      Last edited 27/10/14 7:01 pm

        A PhD doesn't automatically imply a masterful knowledge of English - people that don't speak English can get PhDs too; but they should know enough to find a decent proofreader... "Account for what you know that you don't know," and so forth.

        Last edited 30/10/14 12:34 pm

      Like Hungry Jack's? Apparently, according to its safety sign, it has only one employee.

      "Hungry Jack's values its employee's safety"

      Lel.

    We see every day that not everyone grasps even their own language properly, but I agree that we should always get the basics right.

    The one that bugs me frequently - even from ABC news readers - is talking about oneself and another using 'I' and 'me'. It seems that people default to always using I. "Qantas upgraded Darren and I to first class". Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    The rule is to take the other person out of the conversation and see if it still makes sense. "Qantas upgraded I to first class". Nobody would say that, and rightly so because it sounds ridiculous. Therefore, it should either be "Qantas upgraded Darren and me to first class", or, "Darren and I were upgraded to first class by Qantas".

    Hey Angus, how about having a go at those using "should of", "could of", etc. instead of "should have", "could have"...? It drives me crazy.

    You know that Tinlin wines will sell their wine to you in your own containers? Yessiree folks, just a couple of bucks to refill those coke bottles with their bitter sweet nectar. Now stop you're complaining...

      You forgot to say "they're".

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