When to Use ‘Its’ and ‘It’s’: Cracking the Code

Most people mix up its and it’s and don’t even realize it.

Even some writers do not know when to put the apostrophe and when not to use it.

If you make this mistake, don’t worry, even some native English speakers confuse the words.

And it is understandable because their pronunciations are the same and they have the same base pronoun is.

Stick around for a better explanation of how to use the terms its and it’s

Meaning of its and it’s

Its is a possessive form of it that means belonging to. It indicates ownership and possession.

It’s is a contraction of it is or it has.

READ ALSO: When to Use Italics: When and Why to Use Italics

When to Use Its

Its is a possessive determiner similar to like and her formed from it a personal pronoun.

Possessions are usually determined by adding an ‘s at the end of the word, however, personal pronouns do not follow this rule. They don’t use an apostrophe for I/my, he/his, she/her, it/its.

In the English language, showing possession of personal pronouns does not use an apostrophe. Its is the possessive form of it.

For instance; The hospital raised its rates.

Now, let’s flip the rule for this example by replacing its with it is.

The hospital raised it is rates.

This does not make any sense. It therefore indicates that the rate belongs to the hospital.

READ ALSO: When To Use Single Quotation Marks: When and Why to Use Them

When to Use It’s

It’s is a contraction of it is or it has. Do not make the mistake of thinking it is also what it was.

A contraction is the short form of a word or group of words where the omitted letter is replaced by an apostrophe (‘).

Contractions are totally acceptable in informal writing but not in formal or academic writing.

One tip for using it’s is to replace it in the sentence with it has or it is. If the sentence makes sense with both its and it’s, use it’s. Also, if the sentence doesn’t make sense, use its in the sentence.  

For instance; The food is delicious, but he thinks it’s too tasty.

The sentence makes sense and you can see that it can be replaced with he thinks it is too tasty.

Examples of How to Use Its

The bike needs its gear repaired.

The dress, while old, really has its charms.

At its last meeting, the organization chose a new administrator.

I didn’t like the show overall, even though its esthetics were amazing.

 Examples of How to use It’s

It’s so nice to see you!

It’s been so long since we last went out.

It’s my pleasure to be here!

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What is the Difference Between Its and It’s?

Do you know the difference between its and it’s? It is in differentiating which is a possessive noun and a contraction.

Its is a possessive pronoun like his or her that doesn’t have a defined gender. The correct use of its signals ownership of any noun that is used after it.

It’s with the apostrophe is the short form or contraction of it is or it has. If you can substitute, either it has or it is in a sentence.

FAQs of Its and It’s

What is the meaning of its?

Its is the possessive form of It which denotes ownership.

When should you use its and it’s?

Its is used when you want to show ownership of a thing. It’s is a combination of two words which can be it is or it has.


It’s is a contraction that can replace “it is” or “it has.” Keep that apostrophe if it can do that. If you try to replace its with “it is” or “it has” and it doesn’t make sense, don’t use it. You will now use its. Its is used to denote ownership.