It’s or Its?

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Most people know that the short version of it is is spelled it’s. After all, an apostrophe replaces a missing letter, which in this case is the i in is. And we know how to spell he’s and she’s. So we write, “It’s going to rain,” not “Its going to rain,” unless we’re typing too fast and leave out the apostrophe accidentally.

But misspelling the possessive form of it is a little more common. So, when writing about something which belongs to someone or something, which is it: it’s or its?

Well, the answer is its, as in “He put on the raincoat and fastened its snaps.” The possessive form of it has no apostrophe.

You can just memorize that and get used to it, but to help you remember, you could keep in mind that other possessive adjectives, such as his and her, do not have apostrophes either.

Here are some quotations from newspapers:

Our favorite affordable robot vacuum just got an upgrade—and it’s on sale. … The RoboVac 11 from Eufy is the best affordable robot vacuum we’ve ever tested, and easily the most popular model among our readers. But it may soon be unseated by its upgraded version—the Eufy RobotVac …

With the sequel ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ swinging into theaters, we decided to take a look back at its predecessor that had us peering ..

Google Pay joins together its Android Pay service with Google Wallet.

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9 thoughts on “It’s or Its?”

  1. What a good way to remember the possessive has no apostrophe, comparing to “his” and “hers”! I wish my English teachers had taught me that. It would have been very helpful.

  2. As a teacher, I think that the it’s, its problem is the most commonly encountered mistake in English expression.
    I tell the kids that it’s so easy. It’s not rocket science! Just remember that it’s with an apostrophe can ONLY mean it is, or occasionally it has, and for all other applications the apostrophe is not required.
    This eliminates the those horrible constructions like ‘The dog hurt it’s paw’. If you read it as ‘The dog hurt it is paw’, it’s obviously wrong.

  3. So, how does a teacher not include the punctuation within the quote at the end of a sentence?

    Our public education at “it’s” best!

    It’s obviously wrong…

  4. This mistake, though common, is a sign of a person’s level of education.

    This person will also have trouble with the correct useage of there, their, and they’re…

  5. @Jay,
    The misuse of it’s/its is not necessarily a sign of low education. I know English majors that use “it’s” possessively (though never to my knowledge “its” as a contraction). It’s a matter of either forgetfulness, rushing and not always checking, rarely having the ability to have some run a quick proofread, or some combination of the three.

    We, all of us, write/types so much in any given day, much of it trivial and unimportant, that things may, sometimes just fall through the cracks.

  6. The mistake is frequently due to the usage of apostrophe + s after a noun to indicate possession:

    I am Jack’s bile of rage
    The cat’s whiskers

    People know to use “it” as a pronoun, but then fall in to the trap of keeping the same apostrophe + s rule.

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