In general I do not understand the usage of "is its own" in a sentence. A sentence containing "is its own" immediately becomes unclear to me. For example what does "is its own" mean in the following context?

since the hand of a clock is its own clearly definable concept, it is a good idea to create it an own class - BoundedCounter

Because a concept is an idea, my interpretation of the above sentence is that something (in this case the hand of a clock) is its own idea so it is a good idea to create a class for that something but that doesn't make sense so may be my interpretation is wrong.

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    *If some thing....is its own idea, then it is prudent to create a class for that thing.
    – Carly
    Apr 15, 2019 at 17:13
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    The "its own" adds nothing to the meaning. It is just saying that "the hand is [by itself] a clearly definable concept."
    – user323578
    Apr 15, 2019 at 17:13

1 Answer 1


You are right. The sentence is a poor one, and "is its own" is incorrect.

The correct usage is when an object provides some function for itself. For example:

An artillery piece requires a vehicle to move it around the battlefield. But a self-propelled gun is its own vehicle.

A better rendition of your sentence is:

since the hand of a clock is a clearly definable concept, it is a good idea to create its own class.

  • The source of this sentence appears to be an online course from the University of Helsinki. The English is generally excellent but there are a few places where it is slightly unidiomatic.
    – user323578
    Apr 15, 2019 at 17:32
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    “Is it’s own” would definitely be incorrect, but it doesn’t say that. “Is its own”, which it does say, is not incorrect by any standard I can imagine. “The hand is its own clearly definable concept” means exactly the same as “The hand is a clearly definable concept unto itself”. The latter is more idiomatic to me (and I would guess probably to most English speakers), but the former is by no means incorrect. On the other hand, “it is a good idea to create it an own class” is ungrammatical; “to create a separate class for it” would be how you’d normally phrase that in English. Apr 15, 2019 at 17:35
  • Thanks all, @JamesRandom (your deduction is correct). It's all much clearer now but since the hand of a clock is something not an idea (i.e. a concept) should it not be "the concept of a hand of a clock is a clearly definable concept" instead of "the hand of a clock is a clearly definable concept"? The latter implies that something is a concept but how can something be a concept when something is concrete where as a concept (i.e. idea) is abstract.
    – bit
    Apr 15, 2019 at 18:28
  • @JanusBahsJacquet , I couldn't tag you in my previous comment but that question is for you too, I would appreciate your thoughts
    – bit
    Apr 15, 2019 at 18:30
  • I don't think it is necessary to be that explicit. It is quite clear what is meant when someone says, "A house is a concept that..." It would be unnecessarily redundant, otiose and a tautology to say "The concept of a house is a concept that ..."
    – user323578
    Apr 15, 2019 at 19:03

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