I think it sounds a little weird. Here's an example:

I looked at the owl. With eyes as big as its, it'd definitely seen the man.

Strangely this sound OK:

I looked at the kitty. With eyes as big as hers, she'd definitely seen the man.

Is the construction with...as...as...its grammatical? Does it sound strange? If so, what's a better alternative?

  • 4
    With eyes that big, it had definitely seen..." – Jim Feb 13 '15 at 3:25
  • 1
    But for me an assumption can't lead to a definitive conclusion: "With eye that big, she surely must have seen the man." – Jim Feb 13 '15 at 3:26
  • Yeah, it sounds a hair weird. But owls are weird anyway, so it fits. – Hot Licks Feb 13 '15 at 3:28
  • I think some of the weirdness comes from the fact that its and it's are homophones, in addition to the proximity of it'd. I like @Jim's suggestion, or possibly: "With its big eyes, it had definitely…". – stib Feb 13 '15 at 4:24
  • the former is - offbeat. – Misti Feb 13 '15 at 16:40

Perhaps it's because its is not commonly usually used as a pronoun. In contrast, his is.

In the Oxford Dictionaries Online, his is listed as both a possessive determiner and as a stand alone possessive pronoun. However, its is only listed as a possessive determiner.

However, Collins English version also limits its to a determiner, but its American version lists both pronoun and determiner.

Several other dictionaries consulted, such as American Heritage, limit its to adjectival or determiner use, but a few do list it as a pronoun.

The other possessive pronouns differ from their possessive determiner forms:

  • hers/her
  • theirs/their
  • mine/my
  • yours/your
  • ours/our

In sum, it's technically correct, but a bit off sounding because it's uncommon.

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