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The Grammar Geek Strikes Again

I just came up against a grammatical conundrum.

Which is correct?
a) [doing something] for all its worth
b) [doing something] for all it's worth

Both can be justified. In (a), you are doing something to the extent of its value; the construction can be likened to "going for the gusto". Though perhaps there you have the prepositional phrase acting in the place of a direct object, which it isn't really in (a). (b) expands to "for all that it is worth" which essentially means the same thing as (a). So from that point of view both would be correct - but one had to have been the original phrasing. I wonder which?

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
geekosaur
Mar. 22nd, 2003 07:33 pm (UTC)
I always saw (b) until people started being unable to find their apostrophes, for what it's worth :)
who_is_she
Mar. 22nd, 2003 10:36 pm (UTC)
I"m pretty good with grammar when my fingers aren't typing too fast
:)

and I think it's 'b'.
stillraven
Mar. 22nd, 2003 11:39 pm (UTC)
(a) implies doing "it" for all of the worth that it posesses.
(b) is the abbreviated form of all that "it is" worth.
Together they make an interesting juxtaposition in meaning shades. The question then becomes which is more meaningful. Do you see worth as a posession or a state of being?
sea_gaagii
Mar. 23rd, 2003 12:48 am (UTC)
Latin
You wouldn't have these problems in Latin.

I am always amused by 'your picture'. Does that mean you own the picture or that it is a picture of you (or in some cases both)
nuns
Mar. 23rd, 2003 05:58 am (UTC)
It's definitely B, not for any apostrophe-related reason, but because 'worth', being an adjective, isn't supposed to be used the way A uses it. While American English frequently uses adjectives as nouns, it's only supposed to happen when there's no appropriate actual noun. So "for all it's worth" and "for all its value" are both fine; but "for all its worth," while easily understood, is not really good usage.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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