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The Difference Between Its and It’s

November 19, 2014 Blog, Pilot_Posts No Comments


TOPIC: The difference between Its and It’s

GOAL: To learn about the proper use of Its and It’s

Level: Difficult

Exercise #1: Read about the use of Its and It’s and then proceed to Exercise #2

There is often confusion between its and it's.  If you delve deeper into this issue, you will see that there is good reason for the confusion.  In spelling, the only difference between “its” and “it’s” is the apostrophe. In meaning the differences are much more significant. However, if you just want to know what is right, the basic rule is very simple:



It's is short for it is or it has.  This is a 100% rule.  It cannot be used for anything else. If you cannot expand it's to it is or it has, then it is wrong.

Some of the common uses of Its:

When referring to the 3rd person, Its is used to show possession like his and her.

His is used for masculine things. (These are his pies.)

Her is used for feminine things. (These are her flowers.)

Its is used for neutral things. (These are its footprints.)

***Remember = the contraction It’s is only used to replace it is or it has.


It's been raining for a week, and now it's starting to snow.

(It has been raining….it is starting to snow)

It's one of the hardest courses in it's history.

(The first it's is correct. The second is wrong. I should be its.)

The Use Of Apostrophes:

As mentioned, apostrophes are used to show possession. 

For example, the possessive form of dog is dog's (as in the dog's teeth).

For that reason, many people think, many think that the possessive form of it should be it's. It seems to fit the pattern. But that is not correct.  Many people (and even large companies) still get this wrong. 


If you want to keep it simple and avoid any mistakes, just remember this easy rule: “Never write it's.”

Instead of writing it's, write the full version (it is or it has). If you cannot (because your sentence does not make sense), then use its.

Exercise #2: Watch video

What is the difference between "It's" and "its? Watch this video to find out.


Exercise #3: Complete the following quiz using the correct preposition for each sentence.

1. True or false: The word ITS is used to indicate possession.

            1. True

            2. False    

2. Which one of the following sentences shows the correct use of IT'S?

            1. It's cause is under investigation.

            2. It's motor stopped working.

            3. It's time to go home.

            4. It's box is broken.

3. What does the contraction IT'S represent?

            1. It is

            2. It is, it has, it was

            3. it was

            4. Answers 1 and 3

4. Please complete the sentence: "____ has been a long day!

            1. It's

            2. It

            3. Its

5. True or false: The rule for using ITS and ITS has many exceptions.

            1. True

            2. False




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