A Conversation for Correct Use of the Apostrophe In English

Was "its" ever correct in 1980s Britain?

Post 1


My school years neatly bracket the '80s, I started school in '79 and grad... er, left in 1990. English was my worst subject; to this day I feel that out of all the things I know of, only a few of the religions of this world manage to truly exceed the rules of the English language for sheer absurdity. That said, my English teachers tried very hard to teach me, leaving me with some very strong impressions of certain rules. One of the strongest such impressions is the notion that "its" is never correct!

To balance the subject, the use of this neutral anonymous possessive (if that's the right term) was discouraged. Something you could refer to as "it" was not something that could have property, it was officially absurd. (Never mind that animals -- pets -- and even babies were more properly referred to with "it" than with "him" or "her", one was supposed to work around that.)

Was "its" ever correct in 1980s Britain?

Post 2

Gnomon - time to move on

But "its" doesn't imply legal possesion, just that something is part of something. For example, the television has a screen, so you would talk about its screen, the television being "it".

You can also talk about the BBC, being a corporation, as "it", although in modern noughties speak we would say "they". So if the BBC has a head, its head must be considered responsible.

Was "its" ever correct in 1980s Britain?

Post 3

Gnomon - time to move on

And if you are talking about apostrophes, then "it's" meaning "belonging to it" has always been wrong.

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