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Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's vs Its

If you are having problems with deciding whether to use it's  or its, you are not alone. Many people, including native speakers, get this one wrong. The answer is simple. 


It's is a contraction for   "It is,"  and occasionally  "It has" in speaking.   
  • We had a lovely time, but it's time to leave.
  • I brought in some dry cleaning. Do you think it's ready?
  • I read your article. It's very good .
  • Where is my coffee cup? It's on your desk.
  • It's wonderful to see you. It's been a long time.
  • What time is it? It's ten o'clock
Its is the possessive pronoun for it.  It means something belongs to it. 
  •  That's an interesting tool. What is its purpose?
  • What a cute cat. What is its name?
  • This car has its own built in telephone.
  • My garden has lots some of its colour because it 's winter.
  • The bird cleans its feathers. 

How  to use them correctly in your writing: 

If you practice, it's easy to see the difference. Here are a few tips to help you.

  • Active verbs never take the verb "to be" unless they are expressing an ongoing situation He is arriving. She has been working.  For example, you can never write it's arrives.  or it's works.  If you see that you have it's in front of an active verb, get rid of the apostrophe entirely. You only need the pronoun "it" 
        My English is quite weak. It's needs a lot of work. It is needs a lot of work can't be
        right.  The verb "need" is an active verb. You can't use "be" in front of it. Change it's
        needs  to it needs.
  • Try replacing the word it's with it is in your sentence. If the sentence obviously sounds wrong,  you probably meant to use "its". If  it is sounds right, keep it. 
         1.   I love the car. I love it's design. This can't be right because  I love it is design is
                nonsense. It doesn't make sense.
         2.  It's not easy to speak  English fluently.  You CAN say It is not easy, so keep it's .

  •  Try replacing your its with his or hers in the sentence. If it sounds correct, keep it.
          Don't worry about the dishwasher. That's just its  way of making noise. The last
          sentence must be okay because ''That's just his way of making noise" makes sense
         In general, its as a possessive is like his. You wouldn't write hi's would you?

  Here's a last tip  for using its vs it'
    Look for the word that follows its, or it's . If it's followed by a noun,use its (its house, its
    door). If it's followed by an adjective, or a passive verb use it's. This isn't 100% true, but
    applies most of the time.
Here's a practice to see if you understand 

 Its / It's or It 
1        (Its/ It's/It)   a pleasure to see you again sir. 
2.       The bird injured    (its/it's/it )   wing when it flew into the window. 
3.       Cassie says that    ( its/it's/it)    easy to jog five kilometres.
4.       (Its/It's/It)   too early to go home.
5.       I love the smell of the rose. (Its/It's/It)  scent is wonderful.
6.       I enjoy the smell of bread baking. (Its/It's/ It) makes the house smell great.
7.       I love that plant because    (its/ it's/it)    leaves are so bright and shiny. 
8.       Let's go inside. (its/It's/it)    time for dinner.
9.       The buffalo cares for    (its/it's/it)     young until they are about three years old. 
10.     I didn't know it was a ring because   (its/it's/ it)  came in a small package. 
11      Why don't you try water skiing. (Its/ It's/ It)   not as difficult as you think. 
12.     Don't make your decision too quickly. (Its/It's/It)  too important for that. 
13.     I parked my car in (its/it's/it)   regular parking spot. 
14.     Can you hand me that coat? (Its/it's/It)   belongs to me. 
15.     Don't take the green umbrella. (Its/It's/It)   mine. 


  1. I've always had trouble using them ,,but now things are clearer than before with the useful practice exercise.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


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