When to Use Its vs It’s | Examples & Worksheet

Commonly Confused Words updated on  January 9, 2024 3 min read
Its and it’s are homonyms (words that are pronounced the same), but they have different meanings.

  • Its is the possessive form of it and means “belonging to it.”
  • It’s is a contraction of “it has” or “it is.”
  • Its’ (with an apostrophe at the end) is often mistakenly used in place of its, but it is not actually a word.

Examples: Its in a sentence

Examples: It's in a sentence

The cat cleaned its paws meticulously after dinner.

It’s a beautiful day to go for a walk in the park.

The organization is known for its innovative products.

It’s been a long day, and I’m looking forward to relaxing.

The library has expanded its collection of rare books.

The painting is considered a masterpiece, and it’s easy to see why.

The QuillBot Grammar Checker will fix this and other common mistakes automatically.


Possessive determiner: Its vs *its’

Its is formed from the neuter singular pronoun “it” and functions as a possessive determiner, like “his” or “her.” While you typically need to add ’s to the end of a word to indicate possession, possessive determiners formed from personal pronouns do not get an apostrophe.

Its' is a common misspelling and should be avoided.

The difference between possessive nouns (which are formed using ’s) and possessive determiners (which don’t use ’s) is illustrated below.


Examples: Possessive nouns

Examples: Possessive determiners

The car’s engine is broken.

The house, whose doors were unlocked, was abandoned.

The student’s adviser was very knowledgeable.

Who is her girlfriend?

Melissa’s art project received an A.

That's our dog, Cooper!

When in doubt, you can use a reliable grammar checker, such as the QuillBot Grammar Checker, to check your spellings.


Examples: Possessive determiner its
The company is expanding its product line.
The restaurant is famous for its delicious desserts.
The car had its engine upgraded for better performance.

Contractions: It's

It’s is a contraction that’s used in place of “it is” or “it has” to shorten a text and make it more readable. It is sometimes mistakenly used in place of “it was,” but this is incorrect.

Contractions often appear in informal writing, such as text messages, but they should be avoided in academic writing or formal professional communication.

Examples: Contraction it's
I don’t care how it’s done as long as you complete the job!
It’s been four weeks since I last saw my friend.
Do you think it’s alright to ask Leo for advice?

Its vs it’s worksheet

Test your knowledge of the difference between “its” and “it’s” with this practice worksheet below. Fill in “its” or “it’s” for each sentence.

Do you want to know more about commas, parts of speech, email, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


US vs UK

Parts of speech

Rhetoric

Gray vs grey

Action verbs

Metaphor

Judgment or judgement

Stative verbs

Simile

Favour or favor

Transitive verbs

Alliteration

Fulfil or fulfill

Verbs

Assonance

Labor or labour

Nouns

Malapropism


Frequently asked questions about its vs it's

How do you know when to use its or it’s?

Its and it’s are commonly confused:

  • Its is the possessive form of “it.”
  • It’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.”

If you don’t know whether you should use “it’s” or “its,” try replacing it with “it has” or “it is.”

  • If the sentence still makes sense, it’s is correct.
  • If the sentence no longer makes sense, its is correct.

The QuillBot Grammar Checker will fix this and other common mistakes automatically.

Is its or it’s possessive?

Its and it’s are often confused. “Its” is the correct possessive form of “it,” whereas “it’s” is a contraction for “it is” or “it has.”

“Its” is used to indicate possession by an animal or thing (e.g., “its revenue,” “its paw”). Possessive determiners like “its” are always followed by a noun.

The QuillBot Grammar Checker will fix this and other common mistakes automatically.

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Julia Merkus

Julia has master's degrees in Linguistics and Language and speech pathology. Her expertise lies in grammar, language and speech disorders, foreign language learning, and child language acquisition.

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