It’s and Its

Today we’re going to review the proper use of two words that are often confused: its and it’s.

The easiest way to learn the difference is to think about a familiar word you use every day: his.

You don’t use an apostrophe in his (do you?). Yet you know instantly that his is a possessive word.

Its (without an apostrophe) works exactly the same way:

George took his uniform to be cleaned yesterday. CORRECT

The department is redesigning its uniform. CORRECT

So here’s a guideline for you: Any time you’re wondering whether to put that apostrophe into it’s/its, think about his. If you can substitute his in the sentence, its (no apostrophe) is correct.

(It’s means it is. And its with an apostrophe at the end is ALWAYS wrong: its’.)

The department is redesigning his uniform. CORRECT

We’re redesigning our curriculum so that it’s consistent with state law. CORRECT

Here are four practice sentences. Scroll down for the answers.

1. I like this book, but some of (it’s, its) information is outdated.

2.  Although (it’s, its) obvious that the procedure needs to be changed, we need to retain (it’s, its) best features.

3.  The force doubled (it’s, its) size over the last 30 years, and (it’s, its) still increasing.

4.  Because (it’s, its) air conditioner is broken, that patrol car is like a steam bath when (it’s, its) very hot outside.

ANSWERS

1. I like this book, but some of its information is outdated. (like his information)

2.  Although it’s obvious that the procedure needs to be changed, we need to retain its best features.  (like it is obvious and his best features)

3.  The force doubled its size over the last 30 years, and it’s still increasing.  (like his size and it is still increasing)

4.  Because its air conditioner is broken, that patrol car is like a steam bath when it’s very hot outside.  (like his air conditioner and it is very hot)

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