its vs it's

Its vs It’s: Learn to Differentiate These Commonly Confused Words

Maria Claudia Alvarado Published on March 11, 2024

If you’re learning English, you might have questioned when to use “it’s” vs “its.” While these two words fulfill different tasks, their similar spelling and pronunciation are confusing. However, they are necessary parts of English grammar, and learning to use them correctly can ensure you understand and communicate with ease. To help you reach your English goals, we have created this guide to help you learn the differences and uses between “it’s” and “its.”

its vs it's

When to Use “Its”

While it might be confusing at first, “its” has the same role as “mine,” “yours,” “his,” “hers,” “ours,” “their,” and “theirs.” These are called possessive pronouns, and help us point out what belongs to who. In this case, “its” is the possessive form for the subject “it.” Unlike the third-person singular pronouns “his” and “her,” “its” is neither feminine nor masculine. This means, that “its” must be used with nouns that don’t have an assigned gender, like animals and objects. For this reason, we call “its” a neuter pronoun.

Here are some examples of how to use “its” for possession:

-The dog was angry because its water bowl was empty.

-The house was beautiful, but its porch was broken.

-It was my favorite book because its explanations were clear.

-My grandfather had a cat, too, and its fur was orange.

-The shirt was missing two of its buttons.

Keep in mind that you must write “its” without an apostrophe to use it correctly. Including an apostrophe where “its” is needed can change the meaning of your sentence and make it grammatically incorrect.

When to Use “It’s”

“It’s” is the contraction or shortened form for “it is” or “it has.” When used in the present tense, “it’s” is composed of “it is” but in the present perfect tense it works as the short form for “it has.” You can use “it’s” for statements of all kinds, which makes this contraction an essential part of English. Note that you must always use an apostrophe when forming this contraction because not doing so would mean incorrectly using “its” instead. 

To help you understand the usage of “it’s,” let’s see some examples in the present tense:

It’s a beautiful day outside.

-My name is Kate. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

-I think it’s important to know more than one language.

It’s too early to eat cake.

And, here are some examples in the present perfect tense:

It’s been a great week.

-I missed you! It’s been a long time since we last saw each other.

It’s been three hours since she got here.

“Its” vs “It’s” Example Sentences

“Its” and “it’s” are often used side by side in texts, which can make some of their uses hard to distinguish. It’s important to remember what makes them different is that “its” is a possessive neuter pronoun, and “it’s” is a contraction for “it is,” a pronoun and verb. To help you get used to the differences in their uses, look at the following examples:

-I love Fall! It’s my favorite time of the year. – Here, “it is” has been replaced by “it’s” to make the flow of the sentence easier and casual.

-The lion sleeps in its cave. – In this sentence “its” is being employed to showcase that the cave belongs to the lion.

It’s three in the afternoon. – “It’s” is being used instead of “it is” to point out the current time.

-The city celebrated its 100th anniversary. – Here, we use “its” to indicate that it is the city’s anniversary.

It’s always nice to eat good food. – In this example, “it’s” is used instead of “it is” for casual speaking.

-Put the bag back in its place. – We use “its” to tell others that the bag has a place where it belongs.

How to Practice “Its” vs “It’s” in English

If you want to learn to use “its” vs “it’s,” you need to be constant and spend time each week practicing your English skills. The best way to study English is to use tools that keep you interested in your studies and that you enjoy using. Luckily, there are many resources to learn English, and you can combine them to create a complete study routine.

If you like short study sessions and interactive tools, you can download an English app to learn vocabulary quickly or practice on the go. English textbooks are also great reference tools you can take everywhere and review whenever you like. If you like to follow set study plans, you can sign up for an English online course to complete lessons to reach the next level of language. There are also many English YouTube videos you can watch to test your skills for free.

“Its” vs “It’s”: Final Thoughts

To become fluent in English, you need to be able to apply both “it’s” and “its” correctly. “Its” and “it’s” play essential roles in English, and you’ll use them often when communicating with English speakers. Remember that they have different meanings and that the use of an apostrophe indicates a contraction. Don’t use an apostrophe for possession. The best way to become familiar with these two homophones is to practice and review their uses. With consistency and patience, you’ll be speaking fluent English in no time!

Maria Claudia Alvarado

Maria Alvarado is a content writer and translator from Lima, Peru. She graduated from the Savannah College of Arts and Design in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Writing. She is fluent in Spanish and English, has intermediate knowledge of French and German, and is learning Japanese. She hopes to bring consciousness about the importance of language learning through her articles and aspires to learn as many languages as possible.

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