YouTube, It’s and Its

      152 Comments on YouTube, It’s and Its

Nothing to do with health or nutrition …  just some stuff that caught my attention while I was surfing and cooling off between rounds of disc golf.

The last time I checked out Fat Head on YouTube was a year or so ago, when someone alerted me to the version uploaded by Gravitas, thinking perhaps it was yet another pirated upload.  (It isn’t.  Gravitas is our digital distributor, and they pay us for their YouTube version.)  At that time, there were just over 100,000 views.  Here’s what I saw today:

Suh-weet!  More than 300,000 views and counting.

When I put on my grammar-grump hat, you can bet on me making a serious typo in the same post, so go ahead and start pointing those out now.  Go ahead, I’ll wait …

… Okay, that’s long enough.

Anyway, I understand when, say, someone who runs a grocery store makes a grammar goof while painting a sign.  I don’t like it when I walk into a Kroger and see that tomato’s are on sale, but I don’t grind my teeth about it.  But it annoys the @#$% out of me when people who are (supposedly) professional communicators haven’t mastered elementary-school grammar rules.  Take a look at this ad, which was produced by Canon International, the camera company:

Now take a look at this paragraph from an article on CNBC:

That sound you hear is me grinding my teeth.  It’s means it isIts is possessive, as in hers, his, its.  The ad should read Photography At Its Finest, and the CNBC article should read … before it’s too late.

These are mistakes in basic grammar committed by people who get paid to write for a living.  And by the way, nothing makes it into print without at least one or two editors giving it a look.  When I worked at a small magazine, two editors approved and initialed every article before it went to the printer.  For an ad, the client and the creative director also have to approve.  So multiple pairs of eyes failed to spot those mistakes.  I guess that’s what happens when people from the MTV generation grow up and take jobs in the communications field.

Share

152 thoughts on “YouTube, It’s and Its

  1. Bret

    “I guess that’s what happens when people from the MTV generation grow up and take jobs in the communications field.”

    I’m more inclined to give the credit for this substandard quality to the managers of these government-subsidized media companies. Interestingly, these government-subsidized companies hardly ever seem inclined to criticize the government. Except when the subject is the military. Or Republicans.

    Reply
  2. Don in Arkansas

    I am a grammar nazi as well. I get annoyed with my children and grandchildren when reading all of the mispelled words and grammar mistakes in their Facebook posts. I have corrected them in the comments so many times that it has actually made a difference. A recent post by my Granddaughter had a note that said “It’s spelled correctly Grandpa, I looked it up!” 🙂

    Reply
  3. derek

    Well if one wants language quibbles, a couple which bug me are:

    1) “Off of” when “from” or “upon” would fit
    2) Using “Leverage” when “use” is meant.

    Reply
  4. Bret

    “I guess that’s what happens when people from the MTV generation grow up and take jobs in the communications field.”

    I’m more inclined to give the credit for this substandard quality to the managers of these government-subsidized media companies. Interestingly, these government-subsidized companies hardly ever seem inclined to criticize the government. Except when the subject is the military. Or Republicans.

    Reply
  5. Ed

    One additional thought. I think that at least part of the problem is people using dictation software. It is definitely getting better, but still requires considerable proof reading and correction.

    Reply
  6. derek

    Well if one wants language quibbles, a couple which bug me are:

    1) “Off of” when “from” or “upon” would fit
    2) Using “Leverage” when “use” is meant.

    Reply
  7. Ed

    One additional thought. I think that at least part of the problem is people using dictation software. It is definitely getting better, but still requires considerable proof reading and correction.

    Reply
  8. NM

    Some people find it a little confusing. I explain to them that it’s actually very easy: the apostrophe always does just one thing: it shows that you’ve left out some letters or are shortening a word. Always. Even in possession!

    We all know that apostrophes are used to show abbreviations. Like ’90s short for 1990s and so on. And “isn’t” being a contraction of “is not”. But we also see apostrophes as indicating possession. And we feel that it has a different function in that respect.

    In fact, as with Latin (and German, and many other languages), the possessive used to have different endings for every noun. It was called the “genitive case”. So, you would say “the ball of the dog”, but then, something like “the dogges ball”. There would also be different endings to show that a noun was a subject or an object, and so on. Eventually, scribes got tired of writing all the different endings, and would just show the key final letter. So “dogges” became “dog’s”. And other endings (like the ones to show subjects and objects) got dropped completely. Except in a few cases – for example, who hits whom, and he hits him (or hem, as it sometimes was). Those pronouns are the last vestiges of “morphological case” in English.

    So people see something like ‘the ball of the dog = the dog’s ball’ and think “ok, so the apostrophe shows possession, so to be consistent, I should say ‘the ball of it = it’s ball’ “. The reason they think this is that they don’t realise that apostrophes only really show contraction or abbreviation. In the first instance, doggess (or similar) was being contracted to “dog’s”, but we forgot that in the mists of time. And in the second case, NOTHING needs to be contracted, any more than we’d feel the need to say “The ball of him = hi’s ball”! If you say “it’s ball”, then you should also say “hi’s ball”. But you don’t, because you know that “his” is a word unto itself, just as “its” is. Unfortunately, “it is” contracts to “it’s”, and we’re so used to seeing ancient contractions as indicators of the genitive that we get it wrong.

    Reply
  9. NM

    Some people find it a little confusing. I explain to them that it’s actually very easy: the apostrophe always does just one thing: it shows that you’ve left out some letters or are shortening a word. Always. Even in possession!

    We all know that apostrophes are used to show abbreviations. Like ’90s short for 1990s and so on. And “isn’t” being a contraction of “is not”. But we also see apostrophes as indicating possession. And we feel that it has a different function in that respect.

    In fact, as with Latin (and German, and many other languages), the possessive used to have different endings for every noun. It was called the “genitive case”. So, you would say “the ball of the dog”, but then, something like “the dogges ball”. There would also be different endings to show that a noun was a subject or an object, and so on. Eventually, scribes got tired of writing all the different endings, and would just show the key final letter. So “dogges” became “dog’s”. And other endings (like the ones to show subjects and objects) got dropped completely. Except in a few cases – for example, who hits whom, and he hits him (or hem, as it sometimes was). Those pronouns are the last vestiges of “morphological case” in English.

    So people see something like ‘the ball of the dog = the dog’s ball’ and think “ok, so the apostrophe shows possession, so to be consistent, I should say ‘the ball of it = it’s ball’ “. The reason they think this is that they don’t realise that apostrophes only really show contraction or abbreviation. In the first instance, doggess (or similar) was being contracted to “dog’s”, but we forgot that in the mists of time. And in the second case, NOTHING needs to be contracted, any more than we’d feel the need to say “The ball of him = hi’s ball”! If you say “it’s ball”, then you should also say “hi’s ball”. But you don’t, because you know that “his” is a word unto itself, just as “its” is. Unfortunately, “it is” contracts to “it’s”, and we’re so used to seeing ancient contractions as indicators of the genitive that we get it wrong.

    Reply
  10. Firebird

    I still like the TV commercial where the groundskeeper misspells the Kansas City Chiefs and writes “Chefs” in the end zone.

    Gogally Mogally.

    Reply
  11. Firebird

    Also, have you noticed on the news that the anchors are leaving words out of sentences, especially verbs?

    “Channel 6 at the scene” instead of “Channel 6 was at the scene”?

    They’re taking short cuts with grammar in order to make room for more content.

    Reply
  12. Firebird

    I still like the TV commercial where the groundskeeper misspells the Kansas City Chiefs and writes “Chefs” in the end zone.

    Gogally Mogally.

    Reply
  13. Firebird

    Also, have you noticed on the news that the anchors are leaving words out of sentences, especially verbs?

    “Channel 6 at the scene” instead of “Channel 6 was at the scene”?

    They’re taking short cuts with grammar in order to make room for more content.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Yes, same on this side of the pond. But “it’s” is not the possessive form of “it”; it’s the contraction of “it is.”

      “It” is a pronoun, and pronouns don’t use the apostrophe-s possessive form. His, hers, its, mine, yours, ours, theirs — those are all possessive without an apostrophe in sight.

      Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yes, same on this side of the pond. But “it’s” is not the possessive form of “it”; it’s the contraction of “it is.”

      “It” is a pronoun, and pronouns don’t use the apostrophe-s possessive form. His, hers, its, mine, yours, ours, theirs — those are all possessive without an apostrophe in sight.

      Reply
  14. Elenor

    Having now read the comments…please let me add: when I worked as an editor at a nuclear facility (!), I kept a file of court adjudications where someone was hurt/something bad happened and the courts found that the poorly written manuals / directions / warnings were partially (or fully) at fault.

    We had in our style guide, for instance (snicker) or rather, e.g., that all uses of the word “comprise” had to be replaced. Even if the writer had used it correctly, the reader quite possibly wouldn’t read it correctly — and at a nuclear plant, that could lead to a big problem! (BOOM!) (Try remembering, those of you not editors or well-educated: comprise = encompass. You would not write “the animals encompass the zoo,” nor “the zoo is encompassed of the animals”; so do not write “the animals comprise the zoo” or “the zoo is comprised of the animals.” The zoo *comprises* the animals; i.e., {wink} “is made up of” the animals.)

    Another goodie: “the procedure was used since the tanks were sealed.” Is that “since” intended to mean “since 1965 WHEN the (highly radioactive but leaking) tanks were sealed”; or “BECAUSE the tanks were sealed”? Could make a difference.

    Thanks for lettin’ me whine!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.