It's or Its?
It's or Its?What is the difference between "its" and "it's"?
"It's" is short for "it is" or "it has." For example:
- It's amazing. (It is amazing.)
- It's got to be a joke. (It has got to be a joke.)
- I can see its eyes. (The word "its" (without an apostrophe) is a possessive determiner.)
A Video SummaryHere is a short video summarizing the difference between "its" and "it's."
Click on the Two Correct Sentences
More about "It's""It's" is short for "it is" or "it has." This is a 100% rule. "It's" cannot be used for anything else.
More about "Its""Its" is like "his" and "her." (They are all possessive determiners.) Look at these examples:
- These are his pies. ("His" is used for a masculine possessor (owner).)
- These are her flowers. ("Her" is used for feminine possessor.)
- These are its footprints. ("Its" is used for neuter possessor.)
Example Sentences with "It's" and "Its"Here are example sentences with "it's" and "its":
- It's been raining for a week, and now it's starting to snow. (The first "it's" expands to "it has." The second "it's" expands to "it is.")
- It's one of the hardest courses in it's history. (The first "it's" is correct. The second should be "its.")
- I think the company wants to have its cake and eat it. (This is correct. The "its" is a possessive determiner.)
- The reef shark chases it's prey through the coral. (This is wrong. It should be "its." It cannot be expanded to "it is" or "or has" so it must be the possessive determiner "its.")
- I'm astounded by people who want to know the universe when it's so hard to find your way around Chinatown. (Actor Woody Allen)
- A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. (Prime Minister Winston Churchill)
- There is nothing in the world like the devotion of a married woman. It's a thing no married man knows anything about. (Playwright Oscar Wilde)
- Whenever cannibals are on the brink of starvation, Heaven, in its infinite mercy, sends them a fat missionary. (Playwright Oscar Wilde)
- Constant company wears out its welcome.
- A frog can't empty its stomach by vomiting. To empty its stomach contents, a frog throws up its stomach first, so the stomach is dangling out of its mouth. Then the frog uses its forearms to dig out all of the stomach's contents and then swallows the stomach back down again.
- A completely blind chameleon will still take on the colors of its environment.
Why Is There Confusion?Apostrophes are used to show possession. For example, the possessive form of "dog" is "dog's" (as in "the dog's teeth" or "the dog's ball").
Therefore, somewhat understandably, many think that the possessive form of "it" should be "it's." It fits the pattern. To make matters worse, there is some evidence that the possessive form of "it" used to be "it's." For example, the word "it's" is used erroneously (by today's conventions) throughout the American Constitution.