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 explaining 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...


RaphaŽl Ingelbien
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