Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: theirs

theirs. “Theirs,” an absolute possessive, is sometimes wrongly written *”their’s” — e.g.: o “The Badgers read Bennett’s intensity. He read their’s [read ‘theirs’].” Vic Feuerherd, “Bennett’s Gift,” Wis. State J., 14 Nov. 2000, at D1. o “Apparently, it can happen even in a marriage such as their’s [read ‘theirs’], which lasted 33 years.” Anna L. Bisol, “Montachusett People,” Telegram & Gaz. (Worcester), 25 Mar. 2001, at 2. o “The soon-to-be expanded dump’s operators offer assurance that the stink isn’t their’s [read ‘theirs’].” “What’s That Smell?” Daily News (L.A.), 25 Apr. 2001, at N14. This error, surprisingly, is even more common in British English than in American English. Language-Change Index — *”their’s” for “theirs”: Stage 1. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “The twentieth century, and especially the time after the Great War, has put a stop to many of the linguistic prohibitions that flourished in the Victorian era. People are not now so afraid of saying ‘damn’ and ‘bloody’ as their ancestors were, and many sexual things are now spoken of quite openly.” Otto Jespersen, Growth and Structure of the English Language 259 (9th ed. 1938).
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