Q: "It's" as the possessive?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Aug 10 19:50:21 UTC 2009

At 3:42 PM -0400 8/10/09, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>A correspondent on another list asks, when did "it's" as the
>possessive come to be proscribed?
>>I've looked for this a time or two before, and this discussion
>>reminds me that I've never been sure about this: where did the
>>prohibition of it's as possessive come from?
>>>  Yes, very common in the C18, though not universal.  The OED's
>>>  etymology begins "Formed in end of 16th c. from IT + 's of
>>>  the possessive or genitive case, and at first commonly written
>>>  it's, a spelling retained by some to the beginning of the 19th
>>>  c."
>>I've delighted in telling the more persnickety among the grammar
>>police I know that it's as a possessive has a long, respectable
>>history, and pointing out that its status as a shibboleth for
>>"literacy" is relatively recent, but I wonder if anyone on the
>>learned list knows where it arose?
>>Interestingly, it's use as a possessive is clearly on the rise
>>again: I see it everywhere.

shouldn't that be '"it's"'s use as a possessive'?  ;-)


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