Is there a word spelled its?

Frequently Asked QuestionsGrammar and UsagePunctuation PointersIts? Its? Or Its?ByBusiness Writing BlogA friend of mine asked me to write about how to choose the correct form of it

Is there a word spelled its?
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Grammar and Usage
  • Punctuation Pointers

Its? Its? Or Its?ByBusiness Writing Blog

A friend of mine asked me to write about how to choose the correct form of its, and I am happy to comply. Those three little letters cause a lot of confusion, but once you master a couple of basic rules, the choice becomes simple. Here goes:

  1. Its is never correct. Your grammar and spellchecker should flag it for you. Always change it to one of the forms below.
  2. Its is the contraction (abbreviated form) of "it is" and "it has." Its has no other meaningsonly "it is" and "it has."
  3. Its is the form to use in all other instances when you want a form of i-t-s but you are not sure which one. Its is a possessive form; that is, it shows ownership the same way Javiers or Santoshs does.
    Example: The radio station has lost its license.

The tricky part of the its question is this: If we write "Javiers license" with an apostrophe, why do we write "its license" without an apostrophe?

Here is the explanation: Its is like hers, his, ours, theirs, and yours. These are all pronouns. Possessive pronouns do not have apostrophes. That is because their spelling already indicates a possessive. For example, the possessive form of she is hers. The possessive form of we is ours. Because we change the spelling, there is no need to add an apostrophe to show possession. Its follows that pattern.

Its used correctly:

  • You can recognize Renes music by its abrupt tempo changes.
  • The golden retriever is known for its gentle personality.
  • Golfing has lost its appeal for Gene because of his arthritis.

Test yourself. Decide which form is correct in these sentences.

  1. Its / Its easy to get to the ballpark by car or bus.
  2. This restaurant is known for its / its emphasis on regional cooking.
  3. Its / Its become very difficult to find parking near the library since it moved from its / its Maple Street location.

Remember: When the word is a contraction of "it is" or "it has," the correct choice is its. Otherwise, the correct choice is its.

Correct answers:

  1. The word is a contraction in this sentence, so the correct form is its.
  2. The phrase "it is" doesnt make sense in this sentence, which needs a possessive form: its.
  3. The sentence begins with a contraction of "it has" (its) and then needs a possessive form (its).

I hope my explanation of its / its works well for you. Just remember: Its is never correct.

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