The problem is rampant but not universal. I do not let my students get
graded on papers with grammatical errors. That means I have to require
revision and teach them primary school material. But they do leave
knowing something about syntax and style.
I'm saying this because I do believe that the collapse of instruction has
produced many writers whose available skills are so constricted that they
cannot write complex or rich prose. I do wish everyone would require it
Date sent: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 19:42:08 +0100
Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From: INGELBIEN RAPHAEL <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Jauch's itch or its vs it's
To: [log in to unmask]
From: Peter Montgomery
> I prefer to think that Herr Schlanger's error is one of inadvertance,
> rather than that he really did not know about the difference between its
> and it's. It is really a mistaken use of the punctuation when it wasn't
> intended, so that grammar has nothing to do with it. It is merely
> Jauch's tendentious ignorance that makes it an issue.
It probably was inadvertence, but it is the kind of inadvertence which
rampant in current English writing. Confusions between 'its' and 'it's'
simply abound in newspapers, advertisements, letters, student essays -
especially if they happen to be written by native speakers. Those for whom
English is a foreign language generally have a greater awareness of
English grammar, and tend not to make the mistake. I remember
he difference between 'its' and 'it's' to a group of first-year English
literature students in England, after I'd noticed many of them made the
mistake in their essays. Some of them didn't know enough grammar to
understand the terms I was using. Also, some of them kept confusing 'its'
and 'it's' in later essays. I got the feeling that they simply didn't
think it was important. No wonder the mistake crops up in so many places.
All this to say, Peter, that you shouldn't frown upon us foreign speakers
if we seem to be nit-picking. We're trying to save the natives from the
error of their ways...
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