It’s “its”, not “it’s”!

Editing and Writing

It’s “its”, not “it’s”!


When should you use this bothersome little thing?

All right, the title of this post may be confusing, but it demonstrates the confusion that runs rampant when people try to use the word “its.” Or “it’s.” Or whatever the thing is supposed to be.

Grammarians (and editors) get all scholarly as they try to educate people about how to know the right form to use. They — all right, we — talk about things like possessives and pronouns and on and on. It almost becomes a matter of sitting down and making a detailed grammatical calculation every time the word “it” shows up in your writing somehow.

But it occurred to me a while ago that there’s a really simple trick for knowing when you’re supposed to use the apostrophe, and when you’re not. It’s almost deliciously easy, in fact.

So. What do you think the trick is?



2 Responses

  1. Meera says:

    Substitute the apostrophe with “is”. Does it make sense? No? DON’T USE IT.

    • Phyl says:

      There ya go! 🙂 Any time you could use “it is” in place of the “it” word, you use the apostrophe. If you can’t substitute “it is,” then you can’t use the apostrophe. You don’t even have to know whether the thing is possessive or anything else.

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