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June 28, 2010

It’s been a problem for some time

The spelling of English is one of its most difficult aspect. It?s hard to say how many writers of English, native speakers or not, have at one time or another used one of the pair its/it?s in place of the other. – Education Bug

It’s is a contraction for it is or it has.
Its is a possessive pronoun meaning, more or less, of it or belonging to it.
And there is absolutely, positively, no such word as its’.

This has been the bane of my writing existence. Despite my earnest efforts to keep this rule, I have repeatedly failed to keep them straight. And as I’m sure you’ll notice (if you haven’t already) I typically get them wrong. In fact, I’m so confident that I’ve reversed this rule and almost never use the possessive form, that I could replace all my its with it’s and be 99% accurate – meaning I’m 99% wrong up ’till now. But have no fear I finally have the trick to remember them from now on.

The word “its” signifies possession, and needs no apostrophe, nor do yours, his, hers, theirs, and ours. So there you have it, a quick and easy way to check, if not remember, when to use its vs it’s (or is that it’s vs its). Either way, let me know if you catch me making this mistake so I can quickly cover up my ignorance.

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2 comments

  • At 7:18 pm on July 6, 2010, Janey commented:

    Another easy way to check if the word “its” that you are writing needs an apostrophe or not:
    If the word can be expanded to “it is”, then it always needs an apostrophe.
    If the word cannot be expanded to “it is”, then it should never have an apostrophe.

    No need to remember possession or not.
    Especially since possession with other words (nouns specifically) means that an apostrophe is required.

    No I’m not a member of the grammar police, but this error really bugs me too.

  • At 7:38 pm on July 6, 2010, archshrk commented:

    That’s the same advice most sites/people give and it must work (since it’s so popular) but for me, I always remembered the rule wrong. That is, I thought it was “always use apostrophe for possessive use” – silly me.

    The yours, his, hers rule works best for me since I have a method for checking myself that isn’t open to interpretation.

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