Use “Its” – Not “They’re” – For Clarity, Correctness

I learned quite a bit about English while studying French and Spanish. Chief among those lessons was using and conjugating the third-person singular and plural: he/she/it and they.

Lost somewhere inside the plugged in, sound-bite driven, instant communication years has been usage of the third person singular “it.” For the sake of – and in service to – a literate, comprehensible and crystal clear republic of citizens, please lend me your ears/eyes/mind.

“It” is a person, place or thing. It can be named or unnamed. Animate or inanimate. Previously mentioned or about to be mentioned. In common usage, “they” is frequently used when “it” is more grammatically correct.

For example, the Houston Chronicle editorial board, the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, the team, the company and the government are all “it”s. As in, “it made a decision,” “it acted courageously,” “it faltered this season” and “its stock is rising.” In the common parlance, on television, call-in radio and especially on social media, “they” is overwhelmingly and erroneously used in place of “it.” This is a personal pet peeve of mine.

Why? Because it sounds bad. It’s unclear. And it is confusing. But primarily, it’s a colloquial pet peeve because it is incredibly incorrect. It also makes the speaker look dumb.

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Published in: on January 21, 2015 at 1:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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