When to Use It’s or Its

By eContent Pro on Jan 18, 2017
When to Use It’s or Its

It’s and its are two basic words that are commonly used in the place of each other. In this post, we are going to take a look at the proper time to use each of these commonly misused words.

What Does It’s Mean?

It’s, spelled with the apostrophe, is the contraction, or the shorthand way, of writing it is. There are no further meanings to the word it’s when it includes the apostrophe.

What Does Its Mean?

Its, spelled without the apostrophe, is used to show possession of an item. This is the correct form of its that you should use in all circumstances where using the contraction is not correct. You do not need the apostrophe to show possession with this word as it is a possessive pronoun, similar to hers, his, our, yours, and theirs. The spelling of each of the words shows possession without using an apostrophe.

How Can I Decide Whether to Use It’s or Its?

If you are confused with when you should add an apostrophe, we have included some tips and samples of things that you should take into consideration.

If you believe that using the contraction it’s is correct, try substituting the full phrase of it is or it has into your sentence


  • It’s raining very hard.
  • It is raining very hard.
  • It’s been time to go!
  • It has been time to go!

All of these sentences are correct, so using the apostrophe is correct in both situations.

  • It’s main office is in New York.
  • It is main office is in New York.

In this example, the sentence no longer makes sense when you substitute it is for it’s, so you can tell that you have used the incorrect form. The correct sentence should read: “Its main office is in New York.”

If you believe that the correct word is its without the apostrophe, you can substitute another possessive pronoun in its place to check for accuracy


  • The child ran into the street after its ball.
  • The child ran into the street after his ball.

In this example, the sentence makes sense even after we switch his with its. We can tell that we have used the correct form.

Another way to test for the proper use of its is to substitute it is in place of its.


  • The dog has buried its bone in the yard.
  • The dog has buried it is bone in the yard.

In this example, it is does not make sense in our sentence, so we were correct in using its.

Things to Keep in Mind When Using It’s or Its

Proper use of it’s can be replaced by it is.

Proper use of its can be replaced by hers, his, ours, theirs, and yours; but not it is.

Its’ is never correct, and is not a word, so be sure that you do not use it.

Final Thoughts on Its and It’s

Although determining whether to use its or it’s can often be confusing, by keeping our tips in mind, you will be able to ensure that you are using these words correctly. If you are unsure of yourself, let eContent Pro (eCPro) help you.

Based in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA, eContent Pro offers high-quality end-to-end editorial and publishing services, ensuring seamless workflows through the eContent Pro Business Enterprise Management System (BEMS), fast turnaround times, competitive pricing, and exceptional customer service. Since 1994, we have supported commercial publishers, university/library presses, organizations, and societies by streamlining their publishing workflow with innovative publishing solutions.

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