Why do sentences like “It is what it is.” sound normal yet when you say them like “It’s what it’s.” they sound off?



Why do sentences like “It is what it is.” sound normal yet when you say them like “It’s what it’s.” they sound off?

In: Other

Ugh, it hurts the ears!!!

I enjoy annoying people with this contraction version all the time.
Anyway, to answer your question, it is because it is what people are used to for the idiom in its uncontracted form. So hearing it so drastically different while it still carries the same meaning is very jarring. And probably something about ending a sentence with a contraction is annoying if it’s not some negation (don’t, can’t won’t). It’s what it is vs It is what it’s.

Contractions are used to get to the next part of a phrase faster, to remove the emphasis of the contracted word. Ending a sentence or phrase is going to feel odd because you’re basically rushing to get to… nothing.

“It’s what it is” works fine. “It is what it’s” doesn’t, because we’re used to seeing “it’s” being connected to another noun or adjective.

“That’s who you are” works fine. “That is who you’re” doesn’t for the same reason.

“If I tell you to show up on time, you’ll show up on time” works. “If I tell you to show up on time, you’ll” doesn’t work.

The second “it’s” is what’s causing the issue.

“It’s what it is” scans perfectly fine.

As does “It is what it isn’t”.

Doesn’t really mean anything but scans ok.

Very strange.

I wonder if there’s some kind of grammatical rule behind it.

You have to evaluate the statement from a rhetorical perspective. For speech to be eloquent, it needs to fulfill three properties: Appropriate according to
1) Time
2) Place
3) Occasion

When any of those properties are contravened against, speech will be off.

The meaning of it is what it is, is to convey that reality is a full package deal, bith its pros as well as its cons have to be accepted and there is no clever way to get around that. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

This is communicated so by means of emphasis where we verbatim repeat the same wording: It( e.g. reality) is(e.g. manifests) what it(e.g. reality) is(e.g. manifests), which in turn has already been abbreviated to its existing form as concealing the overly obvious of what is being talked about(e.g. reality) communicates emphasis of something in a better way. If you were to contract it further, then in addition to disrupting the flow of speech(e.h it is borderline a tong-twister, which in itself in term sof body language contradicts that you are stating stating the obvious truth that cannot be contradicted) , in addition to that you would be lessing the power of emphasis and stressing of this sentence. When you repeat wording for the sake of emphasis, then repeating it on a verbose way carries more emphasis than repeating it in a concise way. I have clarifued above that abbrevation from reality to stating it instead is fine as concealing the obvious in this way does not contradict emphasis. But going a step further than that to it’s what it’s would constitute an abbreviation for no additional benefit and would actually go against the demands of emphasis of being verbose.

So the reason why it’s what it’s is not eloquent speech is because it is an idiom reserved for the occasion where you need to emphasize the hard naked truth which demands for being verbose whereas abbreviation contradicta that. Also the argument of flow where the speech in it’s abbrevaited form does not flow well to the extent it becomes more of a tongue twister makes that such speech is not eloquent.

Now, I am by no means a literary expert so if there is a fault with my reasoning and/or others cpuld provide substantiations to what I am claiming then I would love to learn.
Thank you

I think it’s largely that the word ‘IS’ is the entire point of the sentence, but you’re contracting it away.
“We Are What We Are” vs “We’re What We’re”
The point is to hit ‘ARE’
I am who I Am
I’m who I’m
It’s the fact you’re contracting the conjugation of the verb ‘Be’

In any case I can think of you can’t contract a verb to end a sentence.

“If you think you’ll fail, you will. vs “If you think you’ll fail, You’ll”

And in all cases I can think of, its all a conjugation past, present or future of a state of Be.

I thought of the following examples to test when there’s a problem and when there isn’t. I don’t think any of the solutions in the thread so far fit them all.


> It is what it’s.

> He isn’t heavy but it’s.

> It’s, while he isn’t, heavy.

> Is it raining? It’s.

> The problem with it’s that it won’t turn on.


> It’s what it is.

> It’s heavy but he isn’t.

> It’s raining.

> It’s not turning on.

Es lo que es. 🙂 How does that sound? 😉 or more in my corner of S. America, “Es lo que hay.”

Saying “it’s what it’s” is like building up a bass drop without dropping it.
Another example will be “when you gotta go you gotta go”.

Because your brain treats certain word sequences as a single unit of meaning.

Idiomatic expressions are types of phrases in which the meaning of the phrase is assigned to the entire phrase and is not a sum of its parts. “It is what it is” is an idiomatic expression.

If you said “the dog is tired” that sentence tells you there is a dog [the dog] it is currently is a state [is], and the state is tired [tired]. But if you say “it is what it is” the sequence is meaningless. If you took the statement literally you’d understand it to mean a thing exists and it is that thing. Which doesn’t particularly make sense.

Our language has embedded a meaning into the phrase, to mean something equitable to “these are circumstances beyond my control and I’ve come to terms with that.” So when you encounter this statement, your brain processes it as a whole, as “It is what it is” is not a series of words, but a meaningful unit on its own.

Contractions, grammatically, are the same as their uncontracted parts, it’s more a matter of formality than anything. But to our brains they are separate lexemes (words) with the same meaning (like how dog and canine mean the same thing). Because of this, the idiomatic phrase “it is what it is” is not the same as “it’s what it what it’s” because that’s not how the phrase is stored in our brains. Our brain only recognizes the meaning when it hears the full phrase. If someone said “I lost my balln” when they meant balloon you probably would be just as confused for a moment as if you heard “it’s what it’s”

The current top rated comment about rushing to get to the end of the phrase makes no sense to me. I’ve never seen that limitation before. I would assume that it’s doesn’t occur at the end of sentences because it initiates a [garden path](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden-path_sentence) not because it rushes to the end, whatever that means.

Source: am linguist