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It's and Its


Mixing up "it's" and "its" is one of the most common writing errors. Train your brain to remember that "it's," with an apostrophe, is a contraction of the simple subject-verb "it is." On the other hand, "its," without an apostrophe, is a possessive.


Here are quick tips on telling the difference:


If you can restate the sentence with "it is," then use the form that's a contraction: "it's".


If you can't, then use the form that's a possessive:" its".




It's too bad you can't come. (You could rewrite it as: It is too bad you can't come.)


Its chief attraction was the roller coaster. (You couldn't write: It is chief attraction. . . .)

Once it gets started, it's hard to stop. (. . . it is hard to stop.)


Once it gets started, its most difficult challenges begin. (Couldn't write: . . . it is most difficult challenges begin.)


Another tip: it's harder for a lot of people to remember NOT to use the apostrophe in the possessive form - "its" - than to remember to use it in the contraction form - "it's". But this might help:


"His" and "her" are also common possessives. Would you ever use an apostrophe in them? "He took hi's time" or "She gave he'r best."


Of course not! That's how you can remember not to use an apostrophe with "its" when it's used to convey ownership or belonging . . . because "it's" just doesn't belong there!



By Susan Darst Williams Grammar Granny 005 2006


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