Based on / Based off of

We used to say “based on” when something (an idea, a film, a TV show) arose as the result of the existence of something else, or was built on a foundation of something else. A movie is “based on” a book, for example. We still should say “based on.”

Not sure where “based off of” comes from, but let’s put it out of its misery posthaste (that means right away). “Based off” doesn’t even make sense, because developments can only be based “on” something. Things only rest on other things, not off them. If it were based off, it would go flying from its foundation.

Perhaps the TV term “spinoff” is partly responsible for this. But a spinoff is still “based on” the original series.

Off with “based off of”…at least based on everything’ I’ve read.



Fewer and Less

I’ve nearly given up on this one. But in the spirit of spitting into the wind, here goes:

Both words refer to smaller amounts of something. If you can count the individual things you’re describing, you say “fewer.” If you can’t count the things, you say “less.”

For example, we say, “I put less salt on now” because we aren’t into getting an exact count of salt crystals. We also say “less water” and “less time” and “less pain.”

But if you can count the things you’re talking about, or they each have individual worth even if there are many, we say “fewer”– such as “fewer people” and “fewer houses” or “fewer incidents.”

We can’t accurately say “We have five less cars on the lot” because we hope that we can count those cars. We say “We have five fewer cars on the lot.”

You could accurately say that something costs less money and be right. You could also say that it costs fewer dollars, and that would be correct. But it would be weird.

It’s and Its

This one is explained all over the place, yet is still used inaccurately all the time.

First thought: It + ’s is a combination of it and is. It’s a contraction, meaning two words made into one, and made shorter in the process. You can use it’s when you are combining the two words it and is.

What can be confusing is that we have been taught that “’s” (an apostrophe before the letter “s’”) indicates possession. So you have my condolences for the difficulty, but you also have my respect that you can get over it and slip into accuracy.

Its means “belonging to it,” whatever it is. Let’s say you’re talking about a plant when you are referring to it. You can say that “its color is purple,” and you’d be accurate (unless it was another color). If you’re unsure, try (silently) saying, “It is color is purple.” That sounds dumb, and it is. So you can’t spell this possessive word any way but its.

BTW: Its’ isn’t a word. It’s an abomination. Never use that.