What Is the Difference Between It’s and Its?
Choosing between it’s and its can be challenging. Many English language learners instinctively insert an apostrophe. However, it’s is a contraction meaning it is or it has. Its is a possessive pronoun and never uses an apostrophe. The easiest way to check your writing is to replace it’s with it is or it has in your sentence. If it doesn’t make sense, then you need to replace it with the word its.
It’s is a contraction. It means it is or it has.
e.g. It’s nearly time to go.
e.g. It’s definitely warmer than yesterday.
Its is a possessive pronoun and is never separated by an apostrophe. In simple terms it means that it shows ownership or belonging to something.
e.g. The horse has lost its jockey. (The jockey belonged to the horse)
e.g. That saucepan is missing its lid. (The lid belongs to the saucepan)
- Alexander, L. G. (2004). Right Word, Wrong Word: Words and Structures Confused and Misused by Learners of English. Essex: Longman.
- Dowling, D. (2011). Wrong word dictionary: 2,500 Most Commonly Confused Words. Oak Park, IL: Marion Street Press.
- Straus, J., Stern, T., & Kaufman, L. (2014). The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Brand.