Its vs. It’s: Mastering the Difference in Grammar

The wrong use of its vs. it’s is one of the most common grammatical errors that is made by both native speakers and those who are learning English as a foreign language. However, this mistake usually occurs only because of carelessness when writing because the difference between it’s and its is pretty simple.

Its vs. It’s

Its vs. It’s: The Difference

  • ITS is a possessive determiner that is used when we say that something belongs to something.
  • IT’S is a contraction of “it is” or “it has”.

In the English language, there is often confusion surrounding the usage of “its” and “it’s.” These two words are homonyms, meaning they sound alike but are spelled differently and possess distinct meanings. Understanding the difference between “its” and “it’s” is crucial for mastering English grammar, and the key lies in recognizing that one is a possessive pronoun, while the other is a contraction.

Its is the possessive form of the pronoun “it” and is used in sentences to indicate belonging or ownership. It functions as a possessive determiner and is similar to other possessive pronouns like “his” and “her.” “Its” is used with neuter nouns, which are nouns without gender. For instance:

The dog wagged its tail.

In this sentence, “its” is used to denote that the tail belongs to the dog.

Meanwhile, it’s is the contracted form of the words “it is” or “it has.” The apostrophe represents the omitted letter or letters. The contraction “it’s” is preferred in informal writing, while the full forms “it is” and “it has” are used in formal writing. Using “it’s” as a contraction makes sentences more concise. For example:

It’s raining outside.

Here, “it’s” is a contraction of “it is” and takes the place of the expanded phrase.

To decide whether to use “its” or “it’s” in a sentence, think about the context and determine if the word represents possession or if it is a contraction. A helpful tip when making this decision is to replace “its” or “it’s” with “it is” or “it has” to see if the sentence still makes sense. If so, the contraction “it’s” is appropriate. If not, the possessive pronoun “its” should be used.

In summary, “its” is a possessive pronoun that indicates ownership, belonging to neuter nouns, and “it’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” Recognizing the distinction enables proper usage of these frequently confused English words.

When to Use It’s vs. Its

Take a look at this example: “Its/ It’s been a week since I last saw my parents”. In this case, you can say, “It has been a week since I last saw my parents”, meaning that the correct option to use is “it’s”.

What if you say, “I stopped reading this book because its/ it’s main character was annoying”? You can’t replace the word in question with “it has” or “it is”. Just to be completely sure, try rephrasing the sentence and saying, “I stopped reading this book. This book’s main character was annoying”. Now it is completely clear that here we need a word that shows possession, so “its” is what we are looking for.

In the sentence, “I don’t think its/ it’s a good idea”, “it is” fits in perfectly. It indicates that here you have a contraction, so an apostrophe is needed: “I don’t think it’s a good idea”.

Definition and Usage of Its and It’s


“Its” is a possessive determiner that indicates ownership or belonging, similar to “his” or “her” for genderless nouns. It can also be considered a neuter pronoun, as it is used in reference to things, animals, or inanimate objects, without specifying a gender. In a sentence, “its” is used to show the relationship between a noun and the pronouns or the possessive noun associated with it. For example:

  • The cat licked its paws.
  • The tree shed its leaves in autumn.


On the other hand, “it’s” is a contraction that combines the words “it” and “is” or “it” and “has.” The apostrophe in “it’s” signifies that a letter or letters have been omitted from the original words, making it a contraction. Consequently, “it’s” is used in place of “it is” or “it has” in sentences. Here are some examples:

  • It’s raining outside. (It is raining outside.)
  • It’s been a long day. (It has been a long day.)

To differentiate between the two, remember that if the sentence can be expanded into “it is” or “it has,” the correct form is “it’s.” Conversely, if the sentence indicates ownership or belonging, then “its” is the appropriate choice.

In summary:

Form Usage Example
It’s Contraction of “it is” or “it has” It’s cold today.
Its Possessive determiner or neuter pronoun The dog wagged its tail.

Useful Tips for Its vs. It’s

One important aspect of English grammar is understanding the difference between commonly confused words. In this section, we’ll discuss the proper usage of “its” and “it’s”, including when to use each and how they relate to possessive forms, contractions, and apostrophes.

Using Its

“Its” is a possessive pronoun, which means that it denotes ownership or belonging to something. It is used to show possession for inanimate objects and ideas without gender. To use “its” correctly, make sure that you’re referring to something that belongs to or is associated with the noun it replaces. Here are a few examples:

  • The cat played with its toy.
  • The tree lost its leaves during autumn.
  • The computer processed its data efficiently.

Using It’s

On the other hand, “it’s” is a contraction of either “it is” or “it has”. It is formed by combining these phrases and using an apostrophe to replace the missing letters. Keep in mind that “it’s” should only be used when you can substitute the contraction with “it is” or “it has” in the sentence. Some examples include:

  • It’s raining outside. (It is raining outside.)
  • It’s been a long day. (It has been a long day.)
  • It’s essential to understand the difference between these two words. (It is essential to understand the difference between these two words.)

Quick Tips

To easily remember the difference between “its” and “it’s”, follow these simple rules:

  1. Its: Used to show possession or association (no apostrophe)
  2. It’s: Contraction of “it is” or “it has” (with an apostrophe)

By keeping these guidelines in mind, you can avoid common mistakes when using “its” and “it’s” in your writing. Implementing correct English grammar will help you convey your message clearly and effectively.

Examples of Its and It’s in Sentences

Examples of Its in Sentences

In this sub-section, we will look at several examples where “its” is used as a possessive pronoun:

  • The tree lost its leaves in the fall.
  • The television had a crack in its screen.
  • The restaurant recently revamped its menu to include more vegetarian options.
  • The computer is slow because of its outdated hardware.
  • The new software is gaining popularity due to its user-friendly design.

Examples of It’s in Sentences

Now, let’s examine a few examples in which “it’s” is used as a contraction for “it is” or “it has”:

  • It’s going to be a sunny day.
  • It’s been raining since morning.
  • It’s important to follow the safety guidelines while using the equipment.
  • She thinks it’s in the car.
  • It’s been a long time since they last met.

Examples of Sentences that Use Both Its and It’s

Here we can see sentences showcasing the correct usage of both “its” and “it’s”:

  • It’s clear that the cat enjoys playing with its toys.
  • The machine is overheating, so it’s important to check its cooling system.
  • It’s amazing how the city has maintained its historic charm despite rapid development.
  • The film received mixed reviews, but it’s undeniable that it had its entertaining moments.
  • While the plan has its risks, it’s worth exploring further.

In this section, we have gone over various sentences that demonstrate the appropriate use of “its” and “it’s” in English grammar. By understanding and applying these examples, one can improve their written and spoken communication skills.

Difference between It’s vs. Its | Picture

Its vs. It’s – When to Use Its or It’s

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FAQs on Its vs. It’s

What is the difference between “its” and “it’s”?

“Its” is a possessive pronoun that denotes ownership or belonging, similar to “his” or “her.” It is used to refer to nouns without gender, often inanimate objects, animals, or ideas. For example: The cat licked its paws.

“It’s,” on the other hand, is a contraction of “it is” or “it has” and is used when you want to shorten the original phrase. For example: It’s a beautiful day (It is a beautiful day) or It’s been a long day (It has been a long day).

How do I use “its” and “it’s” in a sentence related to animals?

When referring to animals, you can use “its” to describe something that belongs to the animal. For example: The dog wagged its tail.

To use “it’s” in a context related to animals, simply use it as a contraction for “it is” or “it has.” For example: It’s a fast runner (It is a fast runner) or It’s caught a mouse (It has caught a mouse).

Is “its” used with nouns or pronouns?

“Its” is a possessive pronoun used with nouns that do not have a defined gender. It is often used with inanimate objects, animals, or ideas. For example: The book lost its cover, or The team needs to improve its communication skills.

Can I use “its” or “it’s” when referring to positions such as Editor-in-Chief or Principal Owner?

Yes, you can use “its” or “it’s” when referring to such positions in the context of an organization or company. For example:

  • The magazine praised its Editor-in-Chief for her outstanding work.
  • It’s the responsibility of the Principal Owner to ensure the company’s success.

When do I know when to use “its” or “it’s” in a sentence about a subject or topic?

To determine whether to use “its” or “it’s” in a sentence about a subject or topic, consider whether you need a possessive form (its) or a contraction (it’s). For example:

  • Physics has its unique set of rules and principles. (Its = possessive form)
  • It’s one of the most fascinating subjects in school. (It’s = contraction of “it is”)

How can I distinguish between “its” and “it’s” when referring to color?

When referring to color, use “its” if you are talking about a specific object or entity’s color, and “it’s” when talking about general color attributes. For example:

  • The chameleon can change its color to blend with its surroundings. (Its = possessive form)
  • It’s a vibrant shade of red. (It’s = contraction of “it is”)


Last Updated on May 9, 2023

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