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The word it’s seems to be a good substitute for it is. Yet it doesn’t sound correct to substitute it’s for it is in: “That’s just the way it is.” To make it: “That’s just the way it’s.”

Is it grammatically correct to make that substitute? And why doesn’t it sound correct? Is there any instance where the word it’s sounds correct and is grammatically correct at the end of a sentence?

The discussion in the answer to Is there some rule against ending a sentence with the contraction "it's"? does not seem to be on point because the premise of that answer is that "it is" at the end of the sentence has a stranded object, but it doesn't. Here the second "it is" has its distinct meaning precisely because there is no object. See first OED definition of "Be": 1 "Without required complement: to have or take place in the world of fact, to exist, occur, happen."

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    Is there any instance where it sounds correct? Yes: "Please don't end sentences with it's."
    – nnnnnn
    Jun 7, 2020 at 5:19
  • @ambitious_ph1lologist Though at least 64 people disagree with me (which does give me pause) I don't think the answer to that question is correct. The premise of the answer is that "it is" at the end of the sentence has a stranded object, but it doesn't. In the OP's example or in "I think therefore I am," it is the absence of an object that gives the verb (to be) its particular meaning. See OED definition of "be" #1 "Without required complement: to have or take place in the world of fact, to exist, occur, happen."
    – Jonathan
    Jun 7, 2020 at 15:10

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Can't find an authoritative source, but I believe that the contraction "it's" can't be used when "it is" is used its existential form without a complement. See first OED definition of "be": "1. Without required complement: to have or take place in the world of fact, to exist, occur, happen."

For example, "It is what it is" can't be stated as "It is what it it's." (But, you can say "It's what it is," because "what it is" is the complement for the first use of "it is."

This seems to hold for all of the contractions of "to be" (I'm, you're we're, they're, etc.)

"I think therefore I am." Not "I think therefore I'm."

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  • The same seems to be true of "to have." For example, I've seen people say incorrectly something like *here's a thought that I've.
    – phoog
    Jun 7, 2020 at 14:50
  • @phoog I think "here's a thought that I've" may be a different case, because "I've" has an object (a thought). So the discussion of stranded object in answer to english.stackexchange.com/questions/500/… may be a better explanation.
    – Jonathan
    Jun 7, 2020 at 15:22

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