ITS OR IT’S?

ITS OR IT’S?

A common mistake in writing is to use its when you mean it’s, and the other way around. The rule is deceptively simple on the surface: it’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has”, while its is the possessive form of “it”.

The confusion stems from the fact that the apostrophe can be used to both indicate a contraction (can + not = can’t) and the possessive (the dog’s bone, the girl’s book, the man’s shoes). So why can’t you use the possessive “s” with “it”?

Because there is always an exception to the rule, and in this instance it is that pronouns don’t use the possessive apostrophe.

The possessive forms of “he”, “she” and “their” is not “he’s”, “she’s” and “their’s” but “his”, “hers” and “theirs”. You wouldn’t (hopefully) write “the boy and he’s dog”; you would write “the boy and his dog”. Similarly, you don’t write “the dog and it’s bone” but “the dog and its bone”.