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WriterInChains
03-04-2007, 02:58 AM
[dumb question alert]

it's = it is

it's = it was

Both are right, aren't they? I've searched, but probably looked right past the rule in S&W's. Now I'm too frustrated to keep searching.

Thanks for not laughing out loud. :o

alleycat
03-04-2007, 02:59 AM
Yes, to the first part.

No, to the second.

WriterInChains
03-04-2007, 03:08 AM
Can you point me to the rule that explains why? I'm not trying to be a pill, just trying to get something through my thick head. :)

Julie Worth
03-04-2007, 03:27 AM
T'was the night before Christmas...

WriterInChains
03-04-2007, 04:31 AM
I hope I won't have to wait that long . . . :tongue

Okay, I've looked through Elements of Style, Elements of Grammar & Elements of Editing, Google & Wikipedia -- still nothing that specifically addresses this question.
Except this, on apostrophe usage: "It is used in contractions, such as can’t from cannot, it’s from it is or it has, and I’ll from I will or I shall."
[Most of the examples only list it is, and not even it has.]

Maybe it's not as dumb a question as I thought? Either that, or it's such basic common sense it's over my head. :ROFL:

Will Lavender
03-04-2007, 05:26 AM
There is no common contraction in the language for it was.

The contraction there is irregular; as another poster pointed out, it's 'twas.

This is not a tense case. There are contractions for past tense verbs. Could not, for example.

veinglory
03-04-2007, 05:30 AM
As stated, 'it was' isn't routinely contracted.

WriterInChains
03-04-2007, 05:43 AM
Since it isn't standard usage is this one of those things that's ok if it works, or something that would look like a dumb mistake to an agent/publisher?

I'm only belaboring the issue because several betas (at least one writer) didn't point this out as a problem, but now someone has.

The ms in question is in first-person, if that makes a difference.

veinglory
03-04-2007, 06:01 AM
The only way to tell if it works is to show it in context--I would suggest the Share Your Work area, or here. I would assume it's was it is--so if that would be incorrect...

Will Lavender
03-04-2007, 06:30 AM
Since it isn't standard usage is this one of those things that's ok if it works, or something that would look like a dumb mistake to an agent/publisher?

No. Unless there's some archaic grammar rule that I don't know about, it's a mistake.

Silver King
03-04-2007, 06:33 AM
Since it isn't standard usage is this one of those things that's ok if it works
No, it's not okay; and it won't work unless spoken in dialogue by an illiterate character; and even then you'd be hard pressed to make the word sound understandable in almost any context.

WriterInChains
03-04-2007, 06:39 AM
Thanks for your responses, everyone! :)

ErylRavenwell
03-04-2007, 09:35 AM
Second is incorrect.

"It's been", in speech, is for "it has been". Note that you need the "been" to avoid confusion with the present form, "it is"

Also "It'd been" for "It had been", and "It'd have" contracted form of "It would have".

'Twas for "It was" (use at the start of a sentence mostly.)

'Tis for "It is" (at the start)

Jamesaritchie
03-05-2007, 12:26 AM
"It's" can mean "it is" or "it has," but I can't think of a context where it could possibly mean "it was." It isn't so much a matter of any rule, but rather a matter of how the heck could you possibly use it so the meaning would be clear, and why on earth would you want to, even if you could?