Grammar: Its or it’s?

by Sheila J Tofflemire on Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 9:36 am

in Grammar Tips

This tip is based on a grammar no-no that is a particular pet peeve of mine. When I see this mistake…well, let’s just say it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. It also happens to be one of the most common grammar errors that many people make.

Here’s the problem: The apostrophe is used for contractions and for indicating possession. Examples of possession:

  • car’s horn
  • man’s hat
  • dog’s tail

According to these examples, you probably think that it’s shows possession – WRONG! Remember: I said the apostrophe is also used for contractions. Here is the correct usage of the two:

It’s — a contraction for “it is” or “it has”

Example: Well, I already used it above… “It’s like nails on a chalkboard.”

Its — shows possession

Example: “The laptop is in its carrying case.”

The easiest way to remember the proper usage: If you can substitute “it is” and the sentence reads correctly, then you know you need the apostrophe. If not, then no apostrophe.

Try some samples here. I’ll leave out the apostrophe; you decide where it’s needed.

  1. The trophy has its own display case.
  2. Its going to rain today.
  3. If you think its too difficult, then it probably is.
  4. The house is missing its front door.
  5. Can you see if its snowing outside?

Answers: click here

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: