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Its vs. It’s: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on March 1, 2024
Its is a possessive form of "it" (e.g., The dog wagged its tail), while it's is a contraction for "it is" or "it has" (e.g., It's raining).

Key Differences

In the English language, its and it's often cause confusion due to their similar spelling but distinct meanings. Its signifies possession, similar to "his" or "her," as in, "The cat licked its paw." It's, however, is a contraction of "it is" or "it has," used in sentences like, "It's been a long day."
The use of its is appropriate when referring to something that belongs to or is associated with a previously mentioned or easily identifiable noun. For example, "The company increased its profits." On the other hand, it's is used in sentences where "it is" or "it has" fits, such as, "It's important to be kind."
Grammatically, its functions as a possessive adjective, providing more information about a noun. For instance, "The plant has lost its leaves." Contrastingly, it's serves as a contraction, typically used in informal writing or speech, as in, "It's likely to rain today."
When editing or proofreading, identifying the correct form between its and it's is crucial. If you can replace the word with "it is" or "it has" and the sentence still makes sense, use it's. Otherwise, its is the correct choice. For example, in "The bird flapped its wings," its indicates possession.
Its and it's sound identical, they play different roles in sentences. Remembering their unique functions helps avoid common grammatical errors. Use its for showing possession and it's when you mean "it is" or "it has."

Comparison Chart


Possessive adjective


Belongs to or is part of something
Short for "it is" or "it has"


"The phone lost its charge."
"It’s going to be sunny today."

Usage in Sentences

Used before a noun to show possession
Used as a substitute for "it is/has"

Grammar Rule

Does not require an apostrophe
Always has an apostrophe

Its and It’s Definitions


Signifying ownership by a non-human entity.
The tree shed its leaves in autumn.


Employed in stating the time, date, or weather.
It’s 10 o’clock.


Referring to a quality or characteristic of something.
The restaurant is famous for its ambiance.


Contraction of "it is."
It’s raining outside.


Showing possession by something previously mentioned.
The car has its own parking space.


Used to introduce a subject in an impersonal way.
It’s easy to learn Spanish.


Used in expressions to denote a quality or condition.
The game has lost its appeal.


Used in emphasizing a statement or response.
Yes, it’s the correct answer.


Belonging to or associated with a thing previously mentioned or easily identified.
The computer shut down, losing all its data.


Contraction of "it has."
It’s been a wonderful experience.


Used as a modifier before a noun
The airline canceled its early flight to New York.


Used as a modifier before a noun
The airline canceled its early flight to New York.


Belonging to it.


Belonging to it.


The one (or ones) belonging to it.


The one (or ones) belonging to it.


Plural of it


Plural of it


Possessive form of the pronoun it. See It.


Possessive form of the pronoun it. See It.


What does 'it's' stand for?

'It's' is a contraction for 'it is' or 'it has.'

How can I remember the difference?

Remember, 'it's' can be split into 'it is' or 'it has.'

Is 'its' used for living things?

Yes, when referring to animals or non-human entities.

Is 'its' ever correct at the end of a sentence?

Rarely, but possible in cases like, "That's its."

What part of speech is 'its'?

'Its' is a possessive adjective.

When should I use 'its'?

Use 'its' to indicate possession, e.g., "The dog wagged its tail."

Can 'it's' start a sentence?

Yes, when 'it is' or 'it has' is appropriate at the beginning.

Can 'it's' be used in formal writing?

Yes, but contractions are generally less formal.

Can 'its' be plural?

No, 'its' does not change for plural nouns.

Is 'its' used in idiomatic expressions?

Rarely, 'its' is generally straightforward.

Are there exceptions to these rules?

Generally no, these rules are quite consistent.

Do native speakers confuse 'its' and 'it's'?

Yes, it's a common mistake.

Is 'it's' ever possessive?

No, 'it's' is never used possessively.

Does 'its' have a gender?

No, 'its' is gender-neutral.

Is 'its' used in possessive pronouns?

Yes, it’s a possessive form of 'it.'

How can I practice using 'its' and 'it's'?

Write sentences using both and check their usage.

Is it 'it's self' or 'its self'?

It's 'itself,' as one word.

Can 'it's' indicate future tense?

Yes, e.g., "It’s going to rain."

How do I avoid confusion between 'its' and 'it's'?

Replace with 'it is/has' to check if 'it's' fits.

Can 'it's' be followed by a noun?

No, 'it's' is followed by a verb or an adjective.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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