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: the Key Difference

ITS vs. IT'SPin

Its vs. It’s: Key Takeaways

  • “It’s” is a contraction for “it is” or “it has.” An easy test to see if “it’s” is correct is to replace it with “it is” or “it has.” If the sentence still makes sense, use “it’s.”
    • Example: It’s (it is) important to proofread our writing.
    • Example: It’s (it has) been a long day.
  • “Its” denotes possession, akin to “his” or “hers.” We use “its” to show that something belongs to a non-gendered noun or to ‘it.’
    • Example: The company revised its policy.

Here’s a simple table to summarize their uses:

“It’s” “Its”
it is/it has possessive form of “it”
with an apostrophe without an apostrophe

Definition and Usage of Its and It’s

Its

“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.

It’s

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)

Examples of Its and It’s in Sentences

Examples of “It’s” in Sentences

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

  1. It’s going to rain later today, so don’t forget to bring an umbrella.
  2. I can’t believe it’s already time for the meeting to start.
  3. It’s important to check your work for errors before submitting it.
  4. It’s been a long time since we last saw each other.
  5. It’s my turn to choose the movie we are going to watch tonight.

Examples of “Its” in Sentences

  1. The cat chased its tail in circles.
  2. The company is known for its innovative approach to design.
  3. The plant has lost its leaves due to the cold weather.
  4. Each team has its own strategy for winning the game.
  5. The book has lost its cover, but the pages are still intact.

Examples of Sentences that Use Both “It’s” and “Its”

  1. It’s amazing how the butterfly changes its colors during its life cycle.
  2. The robot can repair itself if it’s damaged, thanks to its self-healing mechanism.
  3. It’s clear that the organization values its employees by the way it’s structured its benefits package.
  4. The museum is closed today because it’s undergoing renovations to improve its facilities.
  5. It’s the company’s policy to reduce its carbon footprint, and it’s making significant progress.

Its vs. It’s: Practice and Exercises

Fill in the blank 

Fill in the blanks with either “it’s” or “its” to correctly complete the sentences.

  1. __________ going to rain later this afternoon, according to the weather forecast.
  2. The cat licked __________ paw after the meal.
  3. __________ important to check your work before submitting it.
  4. The company is expanding __________ reach to international markets.
  5. __________ not unusual for him to spend hours on a single drawing.
  6. The tree lost all of __________ leaves during the autumn season.
  7. __________ been a long time since we last met.
  8. The smartphone has __________ own built-in assistant for voice commands.
  9. __________ a mystery why the system suddenly stopped working.
  10. The organization is known for __________ charitable contributions.

Answer with Explanation 

  1. Answer: It’s
    • Explanation: “It’s” is a contraction for “it is,” which is appropriate here.
  2. Answer: its
    • Explanation: “Its” is a possessive pronoun indicating that the paw belongs to the cat.
  3. Answer: It’s
    • Explanation: “It’s” is a contraction for “it is,” fitting in this context.
  4. Answer: its
    • Explanation: “Its” is possessive, indicating the company owns the reach.
  5. Answer: It’s
    • Explanation: “It’s” is a contraction for “it is,” making sense in this sentence.
  6. Answer: its
    • Explanation: “Its” is possessive, showing ownership of the leaves by the tree.
  7. Answer: It’s
    • Explanation: “It’s” is a contraction for “it has” in this case, indicating the passage of time.
  8. Answer: its
    • Explanation: “Its” is possessive, showing that the smartphone has a feature.
  9. Answer: It’s
    • Explanation: “It’s” is a contraction for “it is,” used here to express a state of being.
  10. Answer: its
    • Explanation: “Its” is possessive, referring to the contributions made by the organization.

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”)

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