How Should You Use It’s vs. Its?

It’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” Its is a possessive determiner we use to say that something belongs to or refers to something.

It’s and its are among the most commonly confused words. They are pronounced the same, there’s a very small difference in how they’re written, and it’s also easy to mistake the contraction in it’s for a possessive. But the rules are very clear—it’s is the same type of contraction as “where’s” or “there’s,” and its is a possessive just like “my” or “your.”

How Should You Use It's vs. Its image

Examples

He doesn’t think its a good idea to spend all his money on video games.

He doesn’t think it’s a good idea to spend all his money on video games.

Its been a year since the last time they met.

It’s been a year since the last time they met.

The computer looked as though it’s power supply had failed.

The computer looked as though its power supply had failed.

A car is no good without it’s wheels.

A car is no good without its wheels.

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Comments
  • Ulla-Brita Carlsen

    Once again: instead of expecting those who’ve difficulty with its and it’s to learn ‘rules’, here’s a simpler one: if it can be replaced by ‘his’ there is no apostrophe in its, as there is none in ‘his’. Much simpler than learning the grammar and having to remember it in a flash when needed.

    • Celia Jennings Bolton

      The rule is pretty short, though: “it’s” = “it is.” If that doesn’t fit the sentence, it’s “its.”

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