The History of ‘Its’

Last week, I wrote about when to use it’s (with an apostrophe) and when to use its (without an apostrophe). In a nutshell, it’s is a contraction of “it is,” and its is possessive. Maybe you already knew that, so I’ll follow it up with something you might not know: There was a time when it’s was possessive and its didn’t exist. Here’s the story: In today’s … Continue reading The History of ‘Its’

Its vs. It’s and Whose vs. Who’s

People often have difficulty with it’s and its. Likewise, whose and who’s can cause confusion. I’ll break it down for you. It’s is a contraction of “it is,” the same way don’t is a contraction “do not.” It’s is not possessive. Here are some examples: It’s unfortunate that Dirk can’t join us for dinner.Hector is trying to teach me how to tie my shoe, but it’s pointless. Its is the possessive form of it. … Continue reading Its vs. It’s and Whose vs. Who’s

Anxious vs. Eager

In careful writing and speaking, anxious and eager are not interchangeable. To be eager means to enthusiastically anticipate something—to look forward to it. To be anxious means to be uneasy or nervous about something. It can also mean to experience anxiety, which is a psychological condition diagnosed by a mental health professional. Because anxious can imply a clinical diagnosis, it’s important to use the word … Continue reading Anxious vs. Eager

Feel Bad vs. Feel Badly

The age-old question: When you hurt someone’s feelings and later regret it, do you feel bad? Or do you feel badly? Short answer: You feel bad. Here’s the explanation: Bad is an adjective. Adjectives modify nouns. When we say, “Fred is a bad driver,” the adjective bad is modifying the noun driver. We can all agree on this. Badly is … Continue reading Feel Bad vs. Feel Badly

Assure vs. Ensure vs. Insure

Strictly speaking, assure, ensure and insure have three different meanings: You assure a person. You ensure an outcome. You insure something valuable. Take a look at assure. In all three of these sentences, we have people assuring other people: Florence assured Geoffrey that she would bring back the car with a full tank of gas.Restaurant management assured customers that the building … Continue reading Assure vs. Ensure vs. Insure