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Refresher on IT'S/ITS

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger on Mar 20, 2018 5:27:56 AM

Are you confused by when to use IT'S and when to use ITS? If so, you have every right to be, because the correct way to use ITS goes against the general rule we're taught about apostrophes. Here's a refresher on the difference between IT'S and ITS:

We normally use an apostrophe when something belongs to someone or something - in other words, to indicate possession:

  • This diary belongs to Daphne.
  • This is Daphne's diary.

  • I like going to that movie theater because the seats there are super comfortable
  • That movie theater's seats are super comfortable.

However, when something belongs to IT, no apostrophe is needed:

  • That movie theater's seats are super comfortable.
  • I like going to that movie theater because ITS seats are super comfortable.

  • Daphne's diary has a green cover.
  • That's Daphne's diary, and ITS cover is green.

We also use apostrophes as a contraction for a noun plus the verb IS or HAS:

  • This seat is super comfortable.
  • This seat's super comfortable. (Seat + IS)

  • Gloria has seen that movie three times.
  • Gloria's seen that movie three times. (GLORIA + HAS)

Following the contraction rule for apostrophes, IT'S is used as a contraction for IT IS or IT HAS:

  • IT IS getting dark, so I really should go home.
  • IT'S getting dark, so I really should go home. (IT + IS)

  • Are you okay? IT HAS been weeks since I've heard from you.
  • Are you okay? IT'S been weeks since I've heard from you. (IT + HAS)

Do the above examples make sense? Essentially, ITS as the possessive form of IT is an exception to the rule regarding apostrophes, so it comes down to memorization to get it right.

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at

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Mar 31, 2018 8:34 PM Andi3132    says:

Is there ever a situation when you use the aphostrophe afer the S?  Its' - or Beths' to indicate posession?

Apr 5, 2018 5:10 PM gayleu    says in response to Andi3132:

Of course!  If your possessive word ends in an S already, then you put the apostrophe after:

That is James' book.

In the old days, we would write "That is James's book," but I have always thought the practice unnecessarily awkward. I taught English composition to college students for many years and part of my doctorate dealt with heady stuff like this. 

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Jun 18, 2018 3:12 AM keerthi    says:

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