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It’s not “it’s,” it’s “its!”

It’s not “it’s,” it’s “its!”

By Jeff Ballif, Intern (@jeffballif)

It’s improper to use “it’s” when referring to possession. “It’s” is a shortened version of the phrase “it is,” meaning that it should only be used where the phrase “it is” can be substituted.

One of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a company is to have a press release or an advertisement get published with grammatical or punctuation errors in it. In the communications industry, specifically public relations, mistakes like these will damage a client’s confidence in your editing abilities. Many businesses depend on their PR firm to catch the small details in their corporate communications.

The English language has many rules regarding grammar and punctuation. Colons and semicolons are probably among the most abused punctuation marks in the English language. The AP Stylebook entry on semicolons reads: “use the semicolon to indicate a greater separation of thought and information than a comma can convey but less than the separation that a period implies.”

Homonyms also make English difficult. Words like “their, they’re and there” sometimes confuse people into using the wrong word in a sentence. I once saw an advertisement for a product claiming “their 50% off!” This is a perfect example of carelessness in editing.

As a member of the communications industry, I know that I have a responsibility to be meticulous in editing. Although I am not perfect in this area, I’m continuously improving. Gaining proficiency in editing is a process that will take as long as a career.

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