It’s just three letters (with or without an apostrophe). It’s one way of saying “it is.” “Its” is a simple possessive of a pronoun. It’s also one of the biggest grammar errors according to the Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.
To quickly check which word you should use, replace your version of the three letters “i-t-s” with “it is” and see if it makes sense. If not, then “its” is the word you are looking for.
However, one thing you should never see is “its” with an apostrophe after the ‘s.’ That is incorrect, any way you slice it.
- Its’ = wrong
- It’s = contraction of it + is
- Its = possessive pronoun
“It’s” has no other meaning – it’s only a contraction of it and is.
Another way to think of this is that “its” also follows suit for other possessive pronouns. The possessive pronoun for “she” is “hers,” and possessive pronouns do not have apostrophes.
Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at email@example.com.
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Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire. A version of this blog post originally appeared on Beyond PR.