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Florian
05-10-2011, 03:45 AM
There is one grammatical mistake frequently made in this forum---offenders will go unmentioned---that really should never be made by anyone who thinks before typing.

It's = contraction of "it is"
Its = neuter possessive adjective, analogous to: his, her, your, my, our, their.


This is a public service announcement.

rfrobison
05-10-2011, 05:08 AM
There is one grammatical mistake frequently made in this forum---offenders will go unmentioned---that really should never be made by anyone who thinks before typing.

It's = contraction of "it is"
Its = neuter possessive adjective, analogous to: his, her, your, my, our, their.


This is a public service announcement.

Although its nice of you to try to help peoples grammar, and they're use of contractions, I fear you're efforts are in vein. But dont be to hard on them. Their doing there best!

Florian
05-10-2011, 05:42 AM
Although its nice of you to try to help peoples grammar, and they're use of contractions, I fear you're efforts are in vein. But dont be to hard on them. Their doing there best!

:) Yes, my efforts are in vain and vain too.

bjkeefe
05-10-2011, 09:54 AM
There is one grammatical mistake frequently made in this forum---offenders will go unmentioned---that really should never be made by anyone who thinks before typing.

It's = contraction of "it is"
Its = neuter possessive adjective, analogous to: his, her, your, my, our, their.


This is a public service announcement.

That one is annoying, isn't it? But I guess I've always had more patience for other people making that mistake, compared to some others, because the possessive case seems like it'd take an apostrophe, since that's the way one generally indicates possession.

My father gave me this mnemonic a long while ago: "Possessive pronouns don't take apostrophes. Think he -> his."

Until now, I did not know its was considered an adjective (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/its) and not a pronoun (though his is (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/his) a pronoun). So, thanks for that.

Too bad there wasn't ever as good a song written for it's/its as there was for conjunctions (http://bjkeefe.blogspot.com/2008/03/blast-from-past-and-i-do-mean-blast.html).

rfrobison
05-10-2011, 10:35 AM
That one is annoying, isn't it? But I guess I've always had more patience for other people making that mistake, compared to some others, because the possessive case seems like it'd take an apostrophe, since that's the way one generally indicates possession.

My father gave me this mnemonic a long while ago: "Possessive pronouns don't take apostrophes. Think he -> his."

Until now, I did not know its was considered an adjective (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/its) and not a pronoun (though his is (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/his) a pronoun). So, thanks for that.

Too bad there wasn't ever as good a song written for it's/its as there was for conjunctions (http://bjkeefe.blogspot.com/2008/03/blast-from-past-and-i-do-mean-blast.html).

Love that conjunction song, too! Then I watched the "Interjection" one.

"So when you're frightened...or sad...or excited...or mad, an interjection starts a sentence RIIIIGHT!..."

I wonder if kids today ever watch these babies. Could be the last, best hope for the English language.

stephanie
05-10-2011, 11:35 AM
That one is annoying, isn't it? But I guess I've always had more patience for other people making that mistake, compared to some others, because the possessive case seems like it'd take an apostrophe, since that's the way one generally indicates possession.

That one seems like it could be a typo, so unless it's done repeatedly, I don't assume it's not.

I'm also pretty tolerant of typos, since I (I admit and you all know) make them constantly. I'm a bad proofreader and tend to write posts way too quickly.

However, one mistake that drives me crazy and that I never imagined people could make until I started going on the internet (so it's been a long time now), is "loose" when you mean "lose." Like nails on a backboard, that one.

(I don't recall noticing it at bloggingheads.)

bjkeefe
05-10-2011, 11:46 AM
That one seems like it could be a typo, so unless it's done repeatedly, I don't assume it's not.

I'm also pretty tolerant of typos, since I (I admit and you all know) make them constantly. I'm a bad proofreader and tend to write posts way too quickly.

However, one mistake that drives me crazy and that I never imagined people could make until I started going on the internet (so it's been a long time now), is "loose" when you mean "lose." Like nails on a backboard, that one.

(I don't recall noticing it at bloggingheads.)

Agree that loose/lose grates. I wonder why you don't make the same assumption about that mistake that you do about its/it's, though.

I don't think of things like loose/lose as typos. Rather, I think of them as misfiring muscle memory. For another example, your'e instead of you're is a typo; you're when it really should be your is MMM, as I see it.

Come to that, I bet more people who make the mistake, when asked, would be able to correctly distinguish between lose and loose than would people who make the its/it's mistake. My impression regarding the latter is that a fairly large number of people will say something like, "I can never remember which is which."

[Added] And how do you feel about "peek oil?"

;^)

Florian
05-10-2011, 12:13 PM
Come to that, I bet more people who make the mistake, when asked, would be able to correctly distinguish between lose and loose than would people who make the its/it's mistake. My impression regarding the latter is that a fairly large number of people will say something like, "I can never remember which is which."

When you know another language, errors such as the confusion of its and it's are impossible. An argument for learning a second language?

bjkeefe
05-10-2011, 12:32 PM
When you know another language, errors such as the confusion of its and it's are impossible. An argument for learning a second language?

Most definitely. To the extent that I know anything about grammar, I know it because of taking French.

stephanie
05-10-2011, 12:53 PM
Agree that loose/lose grates. I wonder why you don't make the same assumption about that mistake that you do about its/it's, though.

Because I've seen it over and over and from the same people. (I used to read some sports threads, or whatever they were called, on usenet, back in the olden days. That's not the only source, though, as since becoming aware of the mix-up I notice it all over, and commonly in political talk. Often -- perhaps why it's noticeable -- from taunting comments, whether political or sports-related.) Also, as someone who proofreads casually and badly, it sticks out to me much more. If I saw the same person consistently misuse its/it's, I'd think it was something more, of course.

I don't think of things like loose/lose as typos. Rather, I think of them as misfiring muscle memory. For another example, your'e instead of you're is a typo; you're when it really should be your is MMM, as I see it.

Hmm. The one thing I know I've become familiar with is the idea that one can have a typo that's not merely a mistyped letter, but a wrong version of the word (i.e., typing "Their is" instead of "There is"), and I'm thinking this is what you mean by MMM. It was horrifying to me when I first saw myself doing that, as it is pretty obvious that "Yhere is" (for example) is a typo, but "Their is" just makes you look really dumb.

Come to that, I bet more people who make the mistake, when asked, would be able to correctly distinguish between lose and loose than would people who make the its/it's mistake.

Oh, I'm sure you are right, as I recall the its/it's distinction being explained to me back in school (it wasn't intuitive), whereas I find it hard to imagine how someone can mistake "lose" and "loose." I'm just saying that it's easier to see how you can mistype and not notice something like "it's" or "its," although I'm sure many who use the wrong form aren't mistyping. Another type of mistake that I see often and find harder to see how people can screw up are extra apostrophes in general. "I love sport's." It just sticks out and seems odd, although I basically have to believe that's a MMM, even if not one I've ever done. But perhaps all I'm saying is that I mistype homophones for each other, but have never made the particular errors (due to mistyping) that seem stranger, so they seem less like likely types.

In case it's not obvious, I'm not arguing or trying to make this all about me (um, even if I am, kind of). I'm just thinking this through while writing.

[Added] And how do you feel about "peek oil?"[/quote]

Heh, kill me now.

uncle ebeneezer
05-10-2011, 12:55 PM
When you know another language, errors such as the confusion of its and it's are impossible.

Well...assuming you are a good student in both languages. I work with many Russian guys who speak English as a second language. And many of them make mistakes that are obviously attempts to use the rules of their native tongue, when speaking English. One guy always says "How are doing?" to ask how I am. This makes total sense since it would be accurate in Russian.

I'm pretty easy-going on typos and contractions and such. In most cases it is pretty obvious what the person is trying to say. And in the end, the whole point of language is to get the point across. And our brains are pretty good at interpreting even the most poorly constructed attempts. But then again, I'm pretty terrible with grammar, so I'm probably just rationalizing more than a tad ;)

stephanie
05-10-2011, 01:05 PM
Well...assuming you are a good student in both languages.

Yeah. I think the point is that the easy confusion in English (thinking "its hibernation" is a contraction, similar to "it's" -- analogous to the bear's hibernation -- rather than an adjective (if I'd known that, I'd forgotten it) akin to "her hibernation") is less likely to occur if one is familiar with how another language handles it and, especially, learning it as a second language, based on rules, rather than intuition.

Perhaps there could be an interesting McWhorter diavlog that touches on some of this.

I used to know a German woman who taught English, and some of the rules they taught I'd never heard of, so it was fascinating to hear them. I remember one had to do with the varying pronounciation of "the," which I wouldn't have thought of as a rule at all, but it did kind of get at something that happens intuitively.

I've, sadly, not kept up with any of the languages (French and Russian) I studied in school, and have only learned a smattering of others, but even learning the elementary bits it's fascinating how they differ and you do learn rules about language that you generally aren't taught in English (because you know how to speak and write those things properly without officially learning them).

operative
05-10-2011, 01:12 PM
Well...assuming you are a good student in both languages. I work with many Russian guys who speak English as a second language. And many of them make mistakes that are obviously attempts to use the rules of their native tongue, when speaking English. One guy always says "How are doing?" to ask how I am. This makes total sense since it would be accurate in Russian.

I'm pretty easy-going on typos and contractions and such. In most cases it is pretty obvious what the person is trying to say. And in the end, the whole point of language is to get the point across. And our brains are pretty good at interpreting even the most poorly constructed attempts. But then again, I'm pretty terrible with grammar, so I'm probably just rationalizing more than a tad ;)

I'm much more tolerant of its/it's than your/you're, in part because I think the latter is rather glaring. I'm also more forgiving of spelling errors, in part because I make an occasional error (and because the spelling system in English is horrible).

stephanie
05-10-2011, 01:14 PM
Oh, as an aside, the craziest thing I've noticed re learning foreign languages is the way some people take on the accent of the first foreign language they know well in learning another, as if your brain has a "foreign" mode and mixes them up. There was a woman in my Russian class in college who had a distinct French accent, and one of the professors (who happened to be American) had learned German pretty fluently after learning Russian, which apparently caused him some unpleasant looks when he was speaking German in East Berlin, back in the day.

I know also that I've had the wrong language come to mind when traveling. Russian when in Prague (such that I automatically responded in Russian when someone spoke to me in Czech, even though I'd tried to memorize the basic Czech responses in question) and French rather than Italian or Spanish.

I'm sure most of this has to do with me not being particularly proficient in any of them, however. (And I really wish the US was better at teaching languages. I so badly wanted to study another language when I was in grade school, but it wasn't offered until jr high, and probably not taught all that well then. But mostly it was far too late to start.)

bjkeefe
05-10-2011, 01:27 PM
Hmm. The one thing I know I've become familiar with is the idea that one can have a typo that's not merely a mistyped letter, but a wrong version of the word (i.e., typing "Their is" instead of "There is"), and I'm thinking this is what you mean by MMM.

Yes.

The great thing about the gripe you have is that it is most often displayed by people trying to claim victory in an Internet argument; e.g., "Haha, you loose."

[Added] I very much agree with your lament (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=208226#post208226) about the American way of delaying the opportunity to learn another language in school.

bjkeefe
05-10-2011, 03:06 PM
[...]

[Added] And how do you feel about "peek oil?"

Heh, kill me now.

On a related note, have a close look at the right-hand sign in the first picture here (http://wonkette.com/445598/strange-minnesota-teabaggers-protest-light-bulbs-health-care-and-bohica). What do you think it says under the cover-up? REPEEL?

Also, behind the head, do you think it says LOOSE FREEDOM or CHOSE FREEDOM?

Regarding the third picture, I totally know what I'm naming my next secret liberal group of liberals!

Don Zeko
05-10-2011, 04:21 PM
That one seems like it could be a typo, so unless it's done repeatedly, I don't assume it's not.

I'm also pretty tolerant of typos, since I (I admit and you all know) make them constantly. I'm a bad proofreader and tend to write posts way too quickly.

However, one mistake that drives me crazy and that I never imagined people could make until I started going on the internet (so it's been a long time now), is "loose" when you mean "lose." Like nails on a backboard, that one.

(I don't recall noticing it at bloggingheads.)

Oh man, I can't stand that one. Even worse that rouge instead of rogue.

bjkeefe
05-10-2011, 04:45 PM
Oh man, I can't stand that one. Even worse that rouge instead of rogue.

Muphry's Law!

(In your defense, at least you didn't say even worse then.

rfrobison
05-10-2011, 06:57 PM
Most definitely. To the extent that I know anything about grammar, I know it because of taking French.

Second. I remember learning what a direct object was -- in high school! -- for the first time in French class. 'Course Japanese grammar is so radically different from English that it's no help at all.

uncle ebeneezer
05-10-2011, 07:05 PM
I know what you mean. I took Spanish and Russian. Even won a medal at a Russian language olympiad in 11th grade (a fact that I studiously hid from the girls!) but was never really fluent in either. I was pretty good at keeping them separate mentally back then. Nowadays, however whenever I try to even say basic things, I find myself mixing up words. It probably doesn't help that "Yo" is "I" in Spanish and "Ya" in Russian. Considering how many sentences start with "I" (especially for someone as self-centered as me ;) ) it makes it real easy to fall into the wrong language.

rfrobison
05-10-2011, 07:14 PM
I know what you mean. I took Spanish and Russian. Even won a medal at a Russian language olympiad in 11th grade (a fact that I studiously hid from the girls!) but was never really fluent in either. I was pretty good at keeping them separate mentally back then. Nowadays, however whenever I try to even say basic things, I find myself mixing up words. It probably doesn't help that "Yo" is "I" in Spanish and "Ya" in Russian. Considering how many sentences start with "I" (especially for someone as self-centered as me ;) ) it makes it real easy to fall into the wrong language.

When I first came to Japan and someone would speak to me in Japanese, I would sometimes find myself responding in French. No help there! Now when I try to have a simple conversation in French, say, with a tourist or somebody, I get about five words out before I start mixing it up with Japanese.

I'm always a bit skeptical when I hear that "so-and-so is fluent in five languages" (or more). My first though is always: simultaneously?

rfrobison
05-12-2011, 04:02 AM
I once worked for a financial market newswire that shall remain anonymous. Every morning I'd come in to read the "market wrap" story from New York. For several days in a row I'd read how, overnight, Wall Street had managed to "eek out gains."

Took about three snide e-mails for them to stop writing it that way. Maybe that explains why I didn't make a go of it there....

bjkeefe
05-14-2011, 11:17 AM
However, one mistake that drives me crazy and that I never imagined people could make until I started going on the internet (so it's been a long time now), is "loose" when you mean "lose." Like nails on a backboard, that one.

There's another one I see all over the place. It really effects my mood.

AemJeff
05-14-2011, 11:28 AM
There's another one I see all over the place. It really effects my mood.

You should point that out more often. It might be more affective that way.

stephanie
05-14-2011, 11:31 AM
You should point that out more often. It might be more affective that way.

Ha, ha.

(I just noticed I said "nails on a backboard." And I thought I was using a lazy cliche. I'm an innovator!)

bjkeefe
05-14-2011, 12:03 PM
Ha, ha.

(I just noticed I said "nails on a backboard." And I thought I was using a lazy cliche. I'm an innovator!)

I'm horrified that I did not notice that heinous blunder!