Its / It's – Commonly Misused Words

Its / It’s

Again, reviewing my article on apostrophes, you will learn more about possessives and contractions. One of the reasons Its and It’s are commonly misused is because they don’t exactly follow the rules on possessive words. Generally, to make a word possessive, in other words, to say it belongs to someone or something, you would include an apostrophe S at the end of the word.

Its is a word that is a bit different, because it is one of the rule breakers for possessives. Because the word It’s is a contraction, which is short for IT and IS, using the same word for a possessive would be confusing at best, so instead, the grammarians decided to confuse us even more and make the word ITS without the apostrophe to indicate possession.

You really don’t need to know the rules on this one is you will just remember that IT’S stands for IT IS and if you can replace the word with IT IS, you need to use the apostrophe.

If you cannot replace the word with IT IS, you use the form of the word without the apostrophe as the possessive.

Example: It’s important that its sentences be properly structured when writing a novel.

Try the substitution method:

It is important that it is sentences be properly structured when writing a novel.

As you can see, the first It’s can be replaced with IT IS and therefore the apostrophe is correct. However, the second its cannot be replaced with it is, and is possessive for it, standing for the novel, and doesn’t need the apostrophe.

Oh, and lastly – itself. (wink)

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