If we say, Is this necklace yours?

Then would it be the same if a dog has a necklace and we refer it by saying, Is the necklace its?

It sounds so weird to me but is it grammatically correct?

  • 1
    But I can talk about my car and its front bumper. – Jim Mar 7 '18 at 4:39
  • @Jim. The car and its bumper. The dog and its necklace. The baby and its bib. Attributive or possessive ? – Nigel J Mar 7 '18 at 6:37
  • " ... my mobile phone fell and broke its screen! Really, really disappointed." – Kris Mar 7 '18 at 6:44
  • 3
    A dog wears a collar, not a necklace. – Mari-Lou A Mar 7 '18 at 7:36

According to The Right Word at the Right Time (p311):

It is very difficult to use its other than in front of the noun it refers to; anything else sounds very awkward:

  • ?This can't be our dog's bone, but perhaps that bone there is its.

(A question mark preceding a sentence is the usual convention for denoting the sentence that follows as questionable.)

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (p471) in its discussion of the genitive its notes:

This form is largely restricted to the constructions where dependent forms are used.

By dependent forms the CGEL essentially means preceding a noun. That said, the CGEL later lists two examples, only one of which it denotes as ungrammatical (*):

  • The Guardian seems to respect its readers more than the Sun respects its.

  • *The bank is being sued by a rich client of its.

So, the question Is the necklace its? is indeed awkward (or weird), but probably not ungrammatical. But if someone asks me: Whose bone is that? I shall enjoy pointing to my dog and saying: It's its!

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  • +1 I reckon CamGEL missed a trick there. That ellipsis of readers there is licensed by the comparative construction, I would suppose. [Let's upport the original CGEL, without which CamGEL would never have happened - reserve CGEL for the original! It was naughty of CamGEL to (perhaps accidentally) allow itself to steal the abbreviation from its worthy predecessor! ;-)] – Araucaria - Not here any more. Mar 7 '18 at 17:48
  • See also: english.stackexchange.com/a/76338/14666 "... this construction doesn't occur often, because possession is not often attributed to neuter nouns, let alone pronouns." – Kris Mar 8 '18 at 9:15

For a dog, one would typically say his rather than its.

That said, try rephrasing the sentence and see how it sounds:
"Does this necklace belong to it?"
Any issues with that?

If it works in the above sentence, how can grammar object to its use in
"Is this necklace its?"?

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Weird, odd, unusual, but not ungrammatical. How much better, though, to say such as 'Is that its necklace?', or, better still, for the poor dog, 'Is that its collar', or in the case of a pampered bitch 'Is that her necklace?'

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