It’s is a short form (contraction) of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. The apostrophe replaces the missing letters. E.g. It’s (it is) cold outside. Its is a possessive pronoun (like ours or hers) for nouns without gender. We never use an apostrophe with a possessive pronoun. E.g. The dog is in its bed. Both words sound the same.
Even native speakers often confuse it’s and its. It’s likely this is because these words sound the same. English certainly has its homophones! However, it’s easy to choose the right word if you know the rules. The word it’s has its uses, but these are quite different from those of the word its!
Rule 1: When the meaning is ‘it is’ or ‘it has’, use it’s (with an apostrophe).
Rule 2: Possessive pronouns never have an apostrophe: his, hers, ours, its, theirs, yours, whose. Use its (without an apostrophe) to show possession or ownership.
Examples of mistakes with it’s vs. its:
Here the meaning is ‘it is’ so we have to use it’s (with an apostrophe).
Here we are showing that the ball belongs to the dog so we use its (with no apostrophe).
It’s means: ‘it is’ or ‘it has’.
It’s is a contraction (short form) of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. When you’re writing a sentence, think about whether you could use ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. If the answer is ‘yes’, then you should use it’s (with an apostrophe). In formal writing, it is best to use the full form and not the contraction.
Examples with it’s in a sentence:
Its means: ‘belonging to it’.
Its is the possessive form of the pronoun ‘it’. This word is in the same category as: mine, yours, ours, hers, his, theirs. When you’re writing a sentence, use its (without an apostrophe) if you’re showing possession, connection or ownership.
Examples with its in a sentence:
Try these exercises to test your understanding of the differences between it’s and its. Watch out for the questions with the word at the end of the sentence and remember the Hot Tip above!
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