Thursday, October 9, 2003


I had this dream. I won't say that it was a strange dream, because something about that sounds redundant to me, but it was a dream nonetheless.

First of all, I was having the worst trouble getting to sleep. The word "it's" was really starting to bother me. It just kind of popped into my head and I realized that "it's" is a contraction for two different sets of words, "it is" and "it has". It momentarily blew my mind that I had not thought of this before, and I wanted answers damn it!

After thinking about it some, I found that I would never use "it's" for "it has" in any of my writing, but I use it freely in speech.

[NOTE: If this is putting you to sleep, get out now and don't look back. This is exactly the kind of boring crap that I think about, and that, apparently, keeps me awake at night.]

Playing around with it in my head, I found that "it's" for "it has" is not as versatile as "it's" for "it is". For instance you could not use "it's" in the following sentence: "It has eight legs." So, "it's" as a contraction for "it has" is only acceptable when the "has" is part of a verb. Interesting.

Then, playing around with it some more, I discovered that it can be even more versatile in other ways - you can use the contraction for other pronouns as well, as in "she's a really good friend."

The plot was thickening. I immediately jumped out of bed to pursue some answers.

I checked, first, the Oxford English Dictionary to make sure that both uses were acceptable. Turns out that they are indeed.

"it's contraction of

- it is: it's my fault.
- it has: it's been a hot day"

Couldn't really find much else with a standard Google search, but just knowing that the good ol' OED was on my side, helped me rest easier.

But, I decided that I still won't use said contraction for "it has" in any of my writing. And, as an aside, for formal writing it's best to expand all contractions, then there's no worries.

Wow, that turned out to be longer than expected. I think I'll save the dream for another post.

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