“The hell with it,” say nation’s top grammarians
by Eric Bourland for Hwaet.com. Originally published May 1999
CHICAGO IL — A consortium of the nation’s top grammarians has revised the rules of grammar to permit the use of the word it’s as a possessive nominative pronoun. The revision was announced at a press conference today at the University of Chicago.
“Most people write it’s as a possessive anyway, so we figured, the hell with it,” said John Grossman, Managing Editor of the venerable Chicago Manual of Style.
Grossman was clutching a bottle.
“They write A South American poison dart frog sits atop it’s keeper’s thumb during feeding time,” said Grossman, or “The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln pulls into Everett, Wash., as a fireboat shoots it’s water cannons.”
A smirking Grossman held up placards that illustrated the formerly erroneous sentences. He then threw the placards on the ground and swigged from his bottle while cameras flashed around him.
“Since the it’s error is ubiquitous, we suppose it’s no longer an error,” said Karen Judd, author of the respected Copyediting: A Practical Guide. “That’s the [redacted] evolution of the language, right?”
She tapped Grossman on the shoulder, took his bottle, and drank.
Members of the consortium stated that they changed the grammatical rule to give a much-needed break to editors everywhere.
“If you’re an editor, you can spend hours explaining to your colleagues and writers the difference between it’s and its and most of the time no one believes you anyway,” said Karen Elizabeth Gordon, author of the well-known grammar handbook The Transitive Vampire. “So now both it’s and its correctly indicate the possessive. We have saved editors a lot of stress.
“Like anyone gives a [redacted] anyway,” she said.
New iterations of dictionaries, textbooks, and grammar and style guides will reflect the grammatical change.
“Next, I bet we’ll be revising the relative pronouns which and that,” said Grossman, staggering slightly. “No one gives a [redacted] anymore about separating restrictive clauses from non-restrictive.”
“Yeah, they think if they write which instead of that, their words sound more important,” said Gordon, momentarily tussling with Grossman for the bottle.
“We might as well go ahead and endorse the use of a lot of for many, too,” said Judd.
“Or comprise for compose,” said Gordon.
“Or literally as an intensifier,” said Judd.
“Or nauseous for nauseating,” said Gordon.
“Or empathetic for empathic,” said Judd.
“Yeah, just [redacted] it all to [redacted],” said Grossman, glaring into the cameras. “Who took my [redacted] bottle?”