Grammar 101: Its vs. It’s

by IELTS Australasia — July 17th, 2018

Its vs it’s: These two words cause a lot of confusion and it’s well worth to spend a few minutes to know the difference between the two.

Its (without an apostrophe) is the possessive of the pronoun “it”. You will also come across “it’s” (with an apostrophe). This is a contraction of “it is” or “it has”. Because they are pronounced the same but have different meanings, we call these words homophones. These words are often confused – even by native English speakers. So, how to tell the difference between them? In this IELTS Grammar 101, we’ll give you some tips on telling them apart.

  • Difference between its and it’s
  • Synonyms of its and it’s
  • Use its and it’s in a sentence

Click each topic to learn more about the differences between its and it’s.

Its or it's: the difference
Its

Is a determiner: A modifying word that determines the kind of reference a noun or noun group has, for example a, the, every.

It’s

A contraction: The process of shortening a word by combination or abbreviation.

Its or it's: the definitions
Its
  • Belonging to or associated with a thing previously mentioned or easily identified
  • Belonging to or associated with a child or unspecified sex.
It’s
  • Contraction of “It is” and “It has”
Its or it's: the synonyms
Its

Could also mean (synonyms): Owned, hers, his, theirs, yours

It’s

Does not have any synonyms

Its or it's: in a sentence
Its
  • I loved the cutting of the dress but had issues with its colour.
  • In the dead of the night, all we could hear was its footsteps.
  • Bingo lost its footing and fell to the ground.
  • The laptop is too big for its case.
  • The movie is surprisingly better than its book.
It’s
  • It’s so cold in Melbourne.
  • Choose what you want but it’s all the same in my opinion.
  • I hope it’s not too difficult for you.
  • It’s been almost a week of waiting.
  • It’s nice to know that my work is recognised.

Want to learn more about commonly confused words?

In written English, it is important to know the correct spelling of a word you want to use. You don’t want to write “weak” when you mean “week” even though they sound the same. In spoken English, spelling is less important, but pronunciation is. Think about the word “lead” which can be pronounced as “led” or “leed.” Because these words cause a lot of confusion, it’s well worth to spend a few minutes to know the difference: homophones vs homographs vs homonyms. Read more here.

People often use elude when they mean allude, or write allude when they should really write elude. There are other commonly confused words too: Do you know the difference between belief or believe? That is the question of another article where we explain the difference between these two commonly misused words. Read it here.