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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

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.

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