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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Is is just me, or are there vast seas of difference between its/it's confusion and arbitrary latin-derived strictures about future tense and passive voice? The former is just a spelling error, and one way (whichever one its;) is misspelled. The latter are violations of rules that help with formal writing, but are rarely heard of otherwise, and are routinely violated in speech. The guy on the street has no idea what you're talking about (or no idea of what about which you are talking?) -- although he prob
    • Almost every "rule" is violated in spoken language (and anyway, who can hear the difference between "its" and "it's"? :-).

      That's okay for most people (less okay for professional orators such as politicians, not that I'm thinking of a particular jackass with his finger on the nukular button). In case it wasn't clear, I was talking about writing that I have to edit for publication.

      When you're writing, you have only the words to communicate with. And printed words are a very clumsy way to communicate (th

      • I guess I don't understand mistaking its for it's, because once you unpack it, the mistake's right there -- "X rain" is either "it is rain" (it's) or "the rain belonging to it" (its). So while it may be easy to misspell, there's a straightforward way to bring language intuitions to bear on the problem. Plus, I thought it was "good style" to avoid contractions in formal writing. Maybe this is why...

        On the other hand, if asked whether I should say "the book which I like" or "the book that I like", it's d

        • "which" tends to be more often right in English than in American English. I wonder how an editor penalises us brits ;-)
          • Perhaps in spoken English, but in written English the rule is the same for every culture. That helps you identify something, whereas which gives you more information. Consider ...

            Matt kicked the dog that barked.

            There may have been several dogs. One barked. Matt kicked it.

            Compare that to this ...

            Matt kicked the dog, which barked.

            There was one dog. Matt kicked it. It then barked.

            Gwammaticians call the former a defining or restricting clause, whereas the latter is a non-restrictive. The non-