In this Grammar Tip, we’re going showcase two words that sound alike but are often mixed up. And I’ll give you some tips so you won’t mix them up again.

The English language is full of grammar exceptions, and the specific one that applies in the case of when to use IT’S and when to use ITS confuses a lot of people.

A primary reason for that is that one of them is an exception to one of the rules for using apostrophes. Don’t question it, just accept it and remember it. Here’s what you need to know:

IT’S is the contraction for IT IS. This follows the apostrophe rule for creating a contraction, which is when you combine two words to make one and use an apostrophe to replace the deleted letters.

If you can replace IT’S with IT IS and your sentence still makes sense, you’ve got it right.

ITS is another story. Another rule for using apostrophes is to show possession by combining an apostrophe with an s at the end of a word. If you applied that rule to ITS, however, you’d be wrong.

ITS without an apostrophe is the possessive form of the word IT. ITS means belonging to it. If you can replace ITS with HIS or HER and the sentence still makes sense, you’re doing it right.

For example:

IT’S wonderful means it is wonderful.
I can see ITS teeth means I can see the teeth that belong to it.

The confusion between IT’S and ITS is understandable, but knowing how to use each word correctly is quite simple.

Jacquelyn Lynn
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