Friday, July 5, 2013

ITS or IT'S?

Recently, I have noticed a tremendous increase in the use of "it's" for the neutral possessive adjective instead of the correct form its, especially online and surprisingly especially among native speakers, and even on official websites. My English is far from perfect since I'm not a native speaker, but as a language teacher and past student of English I know that "it's" is the short form for it is or it has, while its is a possessive adjective (for example: the color of this necklace = its color). Anyway, seeing the use of it's instead of its becoming so widespread, I started thinking: maybe the rule has changed and I don't know??? NO, of course not... it hasn't changed :) It's is still the short form for it is or it has (that is, a VERBAL form), while its is a possessive adjective exactly like my, your, his or our.

I found this page really great!

It's is short for it is or it has.
Its is the possessive form of it.

There is often confusion between its and it's. If you delve deeper into this issue, you will see that there is good reason for the confusion. However, if you just want to know what is right, the matter is very simple:


It's is short for it is or it has. This is a 100% rule. It cannot be used for anything else. If you cannot expand it's to it is or it has, then it is wrong.


Its is like his and her.

His is used for a masculine possessor (owner). (These are his pies.)
Her is used for feminine possessor. (These are her flowers.)
Its is used for neuter possessor. (These are its footprints.)


 It's been raining for a week, and now it's starting to snow. 
(It has been is starting to snow)

 It's one of the hardest courses in it's history. 
(The first it's is correct. The second should be its.)

 I think the company wants to have its cake and eat it. 
(its – possessive form. This is correct.)

 The reef shark chases it's prey through the coral. 
(should be its, i.e., the possessive form. You cannot expand this to it is or it has.)

 I'm astounded by people who want to know the universe when it's so hard to find your way around Chinatown.  (Woody Allen)

 A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.  (Winston Churchill)

 There is nothing in the world like the devotion of a married woman. It's a thing no married man knows anything about.  (Oscar Wilde)

 Whenever cannibals are on the brink of starvation, Heaven, in its infinite mercy, sends them a fat
missionary.  (Oscar Wilde)

 Constant company wears out its welcome. 

 A frog can't empty its stomach by vomiting. To empty its stomach contents, a frog throws up its stomach first, so the stomach is dangling out of its mouth. Then the frog uses its forearms to dig out all of the stomach's contents and then swallows the stomach back down again. 

 A completely blind chameleon will still take on the colours  (colors ) of its environment. 

Read more about it's and its here.

Select the correct version:

Well, it's / its got to be true. It's / Its the best evidence yet that the Moon landing was a hoax.It's / Its a ridiculous thought - of course they landed on the Moon. 


Never write it's.

Instead of writing it's, write the full version (i.e., it is or it has). If you cannot (because your sentence does not make sense), then use its.


As covered here, apostrophes are used to show possession. For example, the possessive form ofdog is dog's (as in the dog's teeth).

Therefore, somewhat understandably, many think that the possessive form of it should be it's. It seems to fit the pattern. To make matters worse, there is some evidence that the possessive form ofit used to be it's. The wordit's is used erroneously (by today's conventions) throughout the American Constitution.

Many, including some very prominent companies, still get this wrong. An it's error by the Co-operative Bank is discussed in Grammar Monster's grammar court.

The words hisher, and its are known aspossessive adjectives. There are no apostrophes in any possessive adjectives. This is another 100% rule.

Read more at 


syros2js said...

Hi, Annuk!
This post... oh... It's so interesting!!!
And its readers can find it very useful!!!
What do you think?
Do I pass th crass??!!
Enjoy your (not you're!) weekend!!!
Many-many kisses, sweetheart!!!

syros2js said...

*thE class!!!

Annuk said...

HAHAHA Joanna... you DID pass the test!!!! ;D I was so puzzled by seeing so many people writing "it's" instead of "its" that I had to check if the rule hadn't suddenly changed!
Polla filakia to you, sweetheart!!!
Enjoy YOUR weekend too! :D

Μαρία Έλενα said...

Hello Annuk
Kisses ...

ariadne said...

The rule is absolutely right!But in this cyber world where everyone writes quickly and with abreviations people tend not to use the apostrophe in so many words.On the other hand being a native speaker does not mean that you know Grammar rules perfectly!Not everyone was a good student at school!

Annuk said...

Geia sou Maria Elena! :)

That's true, Ariadne! LOL ;D
The funny thing is that I've noticed the use of it's instad of its more often than the other way round, even on official websites... so I think that people are more confused than in a hurry ;)

July 5, 2013 at 3:46 PM

JuanitaTortilla said...

My English is far from perfect, but such grammatical error really annoys me. To add to this, another common mistake that is widespread these days is the mix-up between their / there / there're... And these are mistakes made by native speakers!!!

JuanitaTortilla said...

Oh! And "your" instead of "you're"... grr...

Yael said...

Wow! Thank you teacher!

Annuk said...

Juanita, those really annoy me too, since it's mostly native speakers making them :S Oh yes, and their/there/they're... and your/you're :S

Hehe Yael! :D
Just had to vent it ;)

DIMI said...

Wow!!What an intresting post!!And so usefull!!Thank you for sharing!!!
Have a happy weekend !!!Filakia to you,Zoe and Lilli!!

Annuk said...

Thank you Dimi mou! :)
Have a lovely weekend too!!! Polla filakia!

Hilde said...

I have noticed this too now and then, Anna. (Not sure I get it right every time, but mostly I hope...)
Thanks for this post, it was fun to fresh up my English :)

Have a lovely weekend!
The sun peeped through today here, and the forecast for the weekend sais sunshine, yay.
Hugs :)

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Anna,
You are SO right about this and it is annoying.
This is my second attempt as my PC got hung just at the time I almost had my comment done with several links for you to verify our way of thinking.
Yes, English is tricky but my guess is that we, as not natives, might pay a lot more attention to the correct grammar.
I've done a post about English with our encounter at the time of still being International Consultants. Found this article in the Jakarta Post and did a blog post about it:
You also might want to follow this FB Page:
And this is a great post:
One more:
So you better keep true to yourself as that is the correct way!

Annuk said...

Thank you Hilde! :)
Don't worry, I've never seen this error on your posts :) and it's a typical native mistake, I'm afraid :)
Have a wonderful weekend with lots of sunshine!
Hugs from the Alps :)

Thank you, dear Mariette!
Your guess is right, I think :) As non-natives we get taught the grammar in our English classes and sometimes know it better than native speakers. I had noticed this mistake getting more and more widespread and I found it so annoying!
Thank you very much for the useful links, I'm going to check them out!
Have a wonderful weekend!

purpleleath said...

Nice post my dear friend!!!! Your research is great!!!! Lots of love, Maria, Micra, Rita & Sophie

Annuk said...

Hehehe I needed to get this out, Maraki! ;D
Lots of love to you and your adorable girls!!!

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