One of the most basic mistakes that you can make is when it comes to it’s and its.
What is the difference between these two homophones? How do you know when to use each one? Which one is followed by a noun? Don’t be the person who makes a mistake on these two words and lets everyone think that you do not understand what you are talking about!
It’s vs Its
The main difference between the two words it’s and its is the part of speech.
is a contraction between it and is. Any time that you use or see the word it’s with an apostrophe, you can know that you can replace that word with it is.
- It’s time for lunch, but I am still not hungry.
- Ben knows that it’s not the best idea, but he does not have any better alternatives right now.
Note that for both of these example sentences, you can easily replace the word it’s with it is and still have the sentence make perfect sense.
This is the possessive form of personal pronouns like I, you, she, her, his, yours, and theirs. It is used to describe something that belongs to something else (known as it, or the subject).
Even though the meaning will be slightly incorrect, you should be able to replace any mention of its with his or her and have the sentence make sense.
Of course, his and her refer to people, but it is the same concept. As long as you are talking about something that belongs to something else, you can use its.
Its describes something belonging to ‘it’: A dog is pursuing its tail.
If a noun comes next, you should likely use “its” (no apostrophe).
- The committee had its own agenda, and everyone was confused when they saw that the committee had tried to change almost everything about the group.
- The dog was walking along the sidewalk when it saw its tail.
Note that in both of these sentences, the word its cannot be replaced with it is. Instead, it would make sense to talk about his own agenda, or her friend (if the subject was a boy or a girl).
In summary, make sure that you try to review your usage of its and it’s! Try the simple replacement test.
If you can change the word to it is, you know that you need to use the contraction. If you cannot, and instead the sentence makes sense when you replace it with his or her, you know that you need to use the possessive pronoun!
A Sample quiz for it’s and its
- ________ my favorite flavor of ice cream.
- The store did not have my favorite ice cream brand, but it did have ________ own.
- ________ a great idea, and I will get started on it right away.
- I can’t believe that ________ already your 7th birthday!
- I wonder if ________ my fault or ________ own fault that the school failed.
- It’s, its
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