The Grammar GuideSpellingWhat's the difference between "its" and "it's"?

What's the difference between "its" and "it's"?

What's the difference between "its" and "it's"?

The word its is the possessive form of the pronoun it.

The tree shed its leaves during the last two weeks of September.

The word it's is the contraction for the two words it and is.

The weather forecaster says it's going to rain most days next week.

A good rule of thumb is to only use it's when using it is would make sense.

English has many confusing homophones, which are words that sound the same but are written differently and have different meanings. Two of the most easily confused homophones are its and it’s. Though these two small words look very similar, that apostrophe completely changes the meanings.

In English, apostrophes have two main functions. They connect words in contractions, and they show possession. But its and it’s are exceptions to these rules. It’s is a contraction, but it is not the possessive form of "it".

It’s

It’s means "it is". This is a contraction, and the apostrophe replaces the letter "i" in "is". Here are some examples of how to use this word.

  • It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
  • Let me know when it’s over.
  • It’s going to be a long day.
  • The weatherman said it’s going to be eighty degrees next week!

Its

Its is the possessive form of "it". Normally, we use apostrophes to show possession, but its doesn't need one.

  • Its fur is a lovely shade of brown.
  • Give the dog its bone.
  • The tree had a heart carved in its trunk.
  • The city has decorated all of its official buildings.

It’s vs. Its

Sometimes both of these words are used in the same sentence. It’s important to use the correct form in writing for clarity since they have very different meanings.

Remember, only use it's when you can replace it with the words "it is".

  • That silly dog! It’s going to hurt its paw if it doesn’t stop digging in the backyard!
  • It’s time to give the car its annual tune-up.