Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Grammar Guide
It’s Versus Its

This one is my biggest pet peeve.

“Its” is a possessive pronoun. Example: I enjoy listening to the bass because its voice is deep and resonating. (In this case, “its” refers to the bass’s voice. Instead of repeating “the bass” and making it possessive, which would be cumbersome, I used the possessive pronoun.)

Because the possessive pronoun “its” is already possessive, it doesn’t require an apostrophe. The apostrophe is already “built in”, so to speak. If you put in an apostrophe, it makes my head spin around like the little girl in The Exorcist. (Same thing happens when people say “hungry like a wolf” instead of Hungry Like The Wolf in reference to the Duran Duran song. Don’t ask me why…it’s just a thang.)

If you really want to see my head spin, throw an apostrophe at the END of the possessive pronoun (which is just an insane construction that is NEVER correct in any instance). If you ever see an apostrophe at the end of “its”, you can assume that the individual who wrote it was either (a) on drugs or (b) half-asleep or (c) not an English-speaking native.

Now, it’s correct and appropriate to use an apostrophe in the “it’s” construction when it’s a contraction of “it is”. Let us turn to Supertramp for our example sentence: It’s raining again.

Here’s your shortcut: The easiest way to make sure you always use these two correctly is to pick at your sentence when you write it. The contraction test is the easiest “pick”. If you can insert the words “it is” in place of the word “its” in your sentence, then slip the apostrophe in between the “t” and the “s”. If you can’t use the words “it is”, then keep the apostrophe out. That’s not the most grammatically-correct way of thinking about it, but it’ll do in a pinch.

(Sandy Lender, author of Choices Meant for Gods, has been an editor in the magazine publishing industry for fourteen years.)

“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”

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