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Possessives and Attributives
Q. My fourteen-year-old stepson claims that the newest version of Microsoft Word “corrects” the contraction “it’s” by removing the apostrophe. He also claims that they “looked it up” online and that the rule has been changed so that neither the contraction nor the possessive has an apostrophe. I explained to him that the contraction and possessive of “its” may be one of the most difficult rules for people to learn because many people want to believe there should be an apostrophe for the possessive form. Are you aware of a so-called change? I never trust software and I am trying to convince him that he should not trust it either. Thank you for your time.
A. Your guy is pulling your leg. In fact, the default settings of the latest version of Word automatically correct in exactly the opposite direction, fully supporting the apostrophe s in “it’s”:
it snot —> it’s not
it’ snot —> it’s not
it;s —> it’s
Remind your stepson that a person can find a mountain of misinformation online, and that he needs to learn how to judge the source. And just in case the little rascal thinks you’re easily duped, remind him that you can double check his online finds, as well (QED). Finally, invite him to write to us with his questions.