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Why does "it's" contraction sound funny in this context?

 
 
Reply Fri 10 May, 2013 08:54 am
I was reading before bed last night, and encountered the following sentence
(not quoted in its entirety):

... quickly evaluate how it's likely to spread. (1)

(The discussion concerns a particular human disease.) For some reason, I
started playing around with sentence (1) a little, and at one point was
considering the following variant (with "it's" and "likely" switched):

... quickly evaluate how likely it's to spread. (2)

It intrigued me that sentence (2) sounds wrong to my sense of English
usage (as far as the usage of the contraction "it's"), although it would sound just fine
(albeit with a different meaning than sentence (1)) if the contraction
were spelled out:

... quickly evaluate how likely it is to spread. (3)

My question: Is sentence (2) truly incorrect, or does it just sound
funny because it's such an unusual grammatical setting for the contraction?
If it is incorrect, what usage rule does it violate?
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Type: Question • Score: 4 • Views: 821 • Replies: 6
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Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 May, 2013 10:07 am
@pscholtz,
That is perfectly acceptable and nothing unusual in its usage. I have no idea why you are find it sounding funny.
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 May, 2013 11:49 am
@Ragman,
Rag forgive, but I agree with psch

If it is incorrect, what usage rule does it [2] violate?

Sounds funny
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  2  
Reply Fri 10 May, 2013 12:36 pm
@pscholtz,
pscholtz wrote:


... quickly evaluate how it's likely to spread. (1)


... quickly evaluate how likely it's to spread. (2)




It looks like (1) relates to the method by which it might spread.

(2) suggests the probability of it spreading.

So far as words and constructions looking odd, almost any word can look strange if you say or look at it often enough.
0 Replies
 
contrex
 
  2  
Reply Fri 10 May, 2013 01:56 pm
Native speakers may often contract it to it's here:

evaluate how it's likely to spread

But very rarely or never here:

evaluate how likely it's to spread. (It is is written and spoken in full)







dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 May, 2013 01:59 pm
@contrex,
Thanks Con
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 May, 2013 04:23 pm
@pscholtz,
Quote:
My question: Is sentence (2) truly incorrect, or does it just sound
funny because it's such an unusual grammatical setting for the contraction?
If it is incorrect, what usage rule does it violate?


It's not incorrect. It sounds a bit odd because that collocation tends to be more formal, so the match up with the contraction isn't as common.
0 Replies
 
 

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