Its v. It’s

The rules for Its v. It’s are much like those for Your v. You’re. As I explained last week, an apostrophe does not always indicate a possessive; sometimes it indicates a contraction. And sometimes a possessive word (in particular, possessive pronouns and possessive determiners) does not have an apostrophe at all. This is true in the case of Its v. It’s.

Much like his or hers, its is a possessive pronoun that ends in the letter s but does not have an apostrophe. A possessive pronoun is used to modify a noun by showing ownership of the item named by the noun.

It’s is a contraction. A contraction is a combination or shortening of words. It’s is the contraction of the words it and is. A less-common contraction of it and is is ’tis.


  • That painting is lovely; its frame complements it very well! (That lovely painting’s frame complements it very well!)
  • It’s so cold outside! We’d better wear gloves. (It is so cold outside! We had better wear gloves.)

Next week’s post: Their v. They’re v. There