Sunday, 15 July 2012

Miss Hasler's English Class: 3

Eyes on the board, please. In today’s lesson we are going to look at two little words that are often misused: its and it’s. Mixing these two up is a common mistake, but it’s one that I am going to ensure you never make again. Here are two examples of incorrect usage:

Spain is famous for it’s sunshine.
I don’t mind pizza, but its not my favourite.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Any pupil handing work in with these errors would get lines. But why are they errors? Because they use its and it’s the wrong way round.

Let’s start at the start by examining it’s.

It’s is a contraction – that is, a shortened version – of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’, just as that’s = ‘that is’ and let’s = ‘let us’.

Shortening ‘it is’ or ‘it has’ is always what it’s is used for; it has no other use.

As with other contractions, we use an apostrophe to stand in for the letter(s) we take out. So when we take the second ‘i’ out of ‘it is’ we put an apostrophe in its place and push the two words together. It is becomes it’s.

It is a sunny day.
It’s a sunny day.

And, going back to our example above:

I don’t mind pizza, but it is not my favourite.
I don’t mind pizza, but it’s not my favourite.

The more observant of you will have noticed that this example contains another contraction that works in just the same way as it’s:

I don’t mind pizza = I do not mind pizza. We take the ‘o’ out of ‘not’, replace it with an apostrophe, and push the two words together.

I do not mind pizza.
I don’t mind pizza.

See? Easy!

Now, pay close attention – that includes you, Harry – because I am going to talk about its, which is a trickier thing to understand than it’s.

Its serves a different function to it’s: it is a possessive determiner.

I see a hand up. Yes, Dana? What is a possessive determiner? It’s a part of speech that modifies a noun (specifically, a personal pronoun) by attributing possession.

Now... yes, Dana? What is a personal pronoun? It’s a special kind of naming word. Examples are me or you or him or her. We all know that nouns are naming words, don’t we? Table and penguin and France are nouns. So are Penny and car and lollipop. Well, personal pronouns are just a special little group of nouns that can be used to stand in for the names of people or things, basically to avoid repetition.

Here’s an example sentence that uses a personal pronoun:

John is my friend. I like him.

In this sentence, him is the personal pronoun, and it stands in for John. The sentence could be written as “John is my friend. I like John,” but we use him instead of repeating John to make the sentence sound less repetitive.

The other personal pronouns are I, you, me, her, it, he, she, us, they and them. So instead of writing “I went to Disneyland. I liked Disneyland,” you could write “I went to Disneyland. I liked it.” Or, instead of writing “Mary likes cheesecake. Mary ate some just yesterday,” you could write “Mary likes cheesecake. She ate some just yesterday.”

Do you all see how that works? Personal pronouns stand in for nouns. John/him, Disneyland/it, Mary/she, noun/personal pronoun. I bet you use them all the time!

Now that we know what a personal pronoun is, we can tackle possessive determiners. If you remember, we said that these words attribute possession. That is to say, they tell us that something belongs to someone or something. And we use them when we need to do that with a personal pronoun. Each personal pronoun (e.g. he, she, you, it) has a possessive determiner that corresponds to it. Let’s look at some examples.

You have a car. You is a personal pronoun.
Your car is nice. Your is the possessive determiner that corresponds to you.
He put me over his knee! This sentence contains both a personal pronoun (he) and the corresponding possessive determiner (his).

You/your, he/his, she/her, we/our. See? Not really hard at all. Personal pronoun, corresponding possessive determiner.

Now we’re ready to deal with that pesky its.

Its is simply the corresponding possessive determiner to it, just like your is to you, his is to he and her is to she.

Your eyes, his voice, her dress, its coastline.

Not “it’s coastline,” because we’re not saying “it is coastline” or “it has coastline.” We’re attributing possession of the coastline to the personal pronoun it.

An example sentence: “Norway is hard to draw in crayon. Its coastline is very jaggedy.” This sentence works exactly the same as “Rachel came back from the salon. Her hair looked amazing.”

Norway - it - its
Rachel - she - her
Noun - personal pronoun - possessive determiner

There. Not so tricky really, is it?

I think some of the confusion regarding possession and apostrophes comes from the fact that, when we attribute possession to a plain old noun (as opposed to a personal pronoun), we do use an apostrophe:

The car has a sunroof = the car’s sunroof.
Crystal has a cat = Crystal’s cat.

So why don’t we add an apostrophe to possessive determiners when we want to signify possession? We add them to nouns, after all. Because, unlike nouns, possessive determiners (his, her, its) already have possession built into them. They have it built in because signifying possession is their one and only function:

Crystal’s cat (apostrophe)
Her cat (no apostrophe)

The car’s sunroof (apostrophe)
Its sunroof (no apostrophe)

Daniel’s bottom (apostrophe)
His bottom (no apostrophe)

See? Good. Now, there is just one more thing. Julie, don’t bang your head on the desk, dear. The final things to mention are possessive pronouns. These are the words yours, mine, his (again), hers and ours. Just like possessive determiners, these words don’t need apostrophes as they already have the concept of possession built in:

That hat is Andrea’s (apostrophe)
That hat is hers (no apostrophe)

We don’t need to worry about the distinction between possessive determiners and possessive pronouns. Life is too short for that. And I know that I’ve used a lot of terminology today, but it isn’t essential to remember all those things. Just remember that:

It’s is a contraction of it is or it has. That’s why it always has an apostrophe, to stand in for the letter(s) we have taken out.

Possessive determiners (words like his, her, its) and possessive pronouns (words like hers, ours, yours) never have apostrophes in them, because they don’t need them. You wouldn’t write “hi’s” when you meant “his,” would you? So don’t write “it’s” when you mean “its!”

Write a paragraph about a girl who goes to the park. Try to use it’s and its, as well as other contractions (like don’t), personal pronouns (like she) and possessive determiners (like his).

P.S. The gorgeous picture above is taken from the ever-sexy School Mistress Fantasy.


  1. One day Jane decided to go to the park with her puppy. It's hair was freshly groomed and it was very exited. While she was there her mother watched her from a distance but warned Jane if she was bad that she would be spanked. So Jane was very careful and played with her puppy in the park.


  2. Your second sentence should start with its, not it's, Timmy. And exited should be excited. Other than that, good work.

  3. Oh Miss Hasler my mom gave me this note
    *Hands note to Mrs. Hasler*
    *It read*
    I would like to thank you for spanking my son in class yesterday you did a very good job and please feel free to do so any time that is necessary.
    Mrs. Sharp

  4. Thank you, Timmy.

    Miss Hasler folded the note carefully and filed it in the top drawer of her desk.

  5. Harriet and her cane went to the sunny park, its flexable qualities make it perfect for swishing.It's been said that she meets her boyfriend, down by the river, and gives him strokes to ensure his compliance.
    Harry Homework.
    Thank you Miss.

  6. Very good work, Harry! You used its and it's correctly and used a range of pronouns and possessives. One spelling mistake, though: it should be spelt flexible.

    You get an A-.

  7. Here is my homework from the class that I skipped.

    Nouns: Ball, Tree, Cane, Hairbrush, Chair
    Verbs: Run, Cry, Pout, Swing, Smack
    Adjectives: Crimson, Red, Bright, Green, Crisp
    Adverbs: Extremely, Sadly, Pitifully, Briskly, Suddenly

    Exercise 2
    Miss Hasler spanks Timmy.
    Timmy's mother applies a large hairbrush to his bottom.
    Miss Hasler is an extremely strict teacher.

    Exercise 3
    Mrs. Hasler is a very strict teacher. She prides herself in spanking each pupil thoroughly. She makes them bend over her legs and then she spanks them. Each smack is searing. Last class Julie got a spanking in the front of the class and Harry laughed.


  8. Here's my assignment, Miss Hasler.

    Julie sat through a boring class on English, the teacher going "yada, yada, yada, yada", wishing she could go to the park instead. As soon as it was over she ran to the park, luxuriating in its green grass on her bare toes. "It's getting late," said Julie to herself, I better go home and do my stupid English homework."

  9. *Little Andrea rushes in and hands a note to Miss Hasler*
    "Sorry, I'm late ma'am. Aunty wanted to have a 'chat' with me before school. She's written a note, ma'am"

  10. Thank you, Andrea. Sit down, dear. An outline of the lesson is on your desk. Set to your work quietly.

    Miss Hasler noted well the careful way in which Andrea sat down. She could just picture the sore, red bottom that lay hidden beneath the girl's pleated skirt.

  11. Miss Hasler ran an eye over Julie's work. She smiled at the silly girl's attempt at rebellion.

    Very good, dear. You obviously listened very closely.

    She wrote a large, red 'B' in the corner of the paper and handed it to the disappointed-looking girl.

    Don't pout, Julie! You didn't get an 'A' because you didn't deserve one. Make that face again and I'll give you something to pout about, my girl!

    Now go back to your seat and work quietly in your jotter. You may draw a picture or write a poem.

    Miss Hasler turned Julie round and sent her on her way with a smart smack to the back of her skirt.

  12. Come here, Timmy.

    Your homework is very good, and would ordinarily earn an 'A'. But I am deducting a mark for its lateness so you get a 'B'. You should feel proud of your ability, but I want to see more promptness - and better attendance - in future. Is that clear?

    Good. Now go and sit down. You may draw a picture if you like, but don't you dare draw a rude one.

    Miss Hasler kept her stern gaze upon the little boy all the way back to his seat.

  13. A large raspberry sound echos around the class room, obviously coming from Harrys direction complete with a massive grinning infectious smile that spreads around the more juvinile members of class, and suddenly drops to an "0" shape as he realises miss Haslers reaction is not a joyous one.

  14. Sorry, only half concealing a smirk.

  15. Miss Hasler slammed her red pen down on her desk and flashed her gaze angrily at the source of the commotion.

    HARRY BUNTER! WHAT is the meaning of such an immature disruption? STOP giggling, Julie! I'm in no mood! It's no good smirking at me, young man - I asked you a question, and I expect an answer!

  16. Sorry, Miss it just came out unexpectedly, he said with another semi- smirk.

    1. A worried look, and a butterfly feeling in the pit of his tummy.

  17. Miss Hasler stood. She strode purposefully to Harry's desk and glared down at him.

    So you like to make yourself the centre of attention, do you?

    She took the grinning boy by the ear, turning his smirk into a wince of pain.

    Well then, my lad, you shall be the centre of attention. I'm sure everyone will be very interested in watching you get what you deserve!

    The furious teacher lifted Harry from his seat by the ear and marched him to the front of the class. Once in front of her desk she released his reddened ear, only to unbutton his shorts the very next instant and yank them down to his ankles. His blue underpants followed a moment later. She span the now blushing boy round to face the class.

    Now, children. Harry here is a perfect example of a very silly, very immature, and very naughty boy. And because he is so naughty, he is going to get a spanking in front of you all.

    Holding Harry by the arm with her left hand, Miss Hasler delivered a firm smack to his bare bottom with her right.

    BAD boy!

    A second smack, just as firm as the first, echoed round the otherwise hushed classroom.

    You WILL NOT blow raspberries!

    Six more smacks, rapid and hard, stung Harry's trembling cheeks. A little muffled yelp escaped his lips at the sixth.

    It's detention for you tonight, my lad! Five hundred lines should teach you to behave!


    I've never known such insolence! Well, I'll just have to beat--


    that right--


    out of you!


    You can whimper all you like, my boy! You've only got yourself to blame!

    A sustained salvo of stinging smacks - easily upward of thirty - turned Harry's little bottom a pleasing shade of rose. Miss Hasler's expression remained icily firm throughout, in stark contrast with Harry's increasing distress. By the time she had delivered the last hard smack, the cheeky boy she had marched to the front of the classroom had become a decidedly sorry, snivelling figure.

    Now, GO and sit in the naughty corner! I don't want to hear another peep from you!

    1. Harry turned quickly around to face away from the rest of the class and struggled to pull his shorts up before underpants to cover his modestly which had started to swell, from the humiliation, in doing so the whole class saw the brilliant red marks on his panicy bottom. Shuffleing towards the naughty stool a took the hat put it on the floor, faced the corner, and fumbled with his shorts and zip, them sat as quietly as he could in a bid to be forgotten about, as quick as possible.

  18. Miss Hasler watched Harry with barely disguised irritation. Some children were simply too naughty to credit. She strode across to the wretch in the corner and stood, hands on hips, frowning.

    The dunce cap goes on your HEAD, Harry, not on the floor. You will wear it for the remainder of the lesson because you are a DUNCE.

    She took the cap and sat it firmly upon Harry's head.

    Now stare at that wall and think about your misbehaviour, BRAT.

  19. *Timmy conceals a giggle while Harry is spanked by the teacher.*