Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Grammar tips: its or it's?
I love learning new skills and I love teaching. So I am going to use my blog to support others with tips on grammar and proofreading. This blog's subject is possessive pronouns and I am going to use Friends quotes to explain the analogy.
For anyone who has been reading my blog and noticed the pattern in my titles, yes I am a massive Friends fan and I am following the style of the names of the episodes.
Its or it's are frequently misspelt.
Its is a possessive pronoun, meaning belonging to it.
An easy way to help you remember is the possessive pronoun stands for someone/something and shows belonging.
Possessive pronouns don't have apostrophes.
See the examples below showing the pronouns and the possessive pronouns in bold. They all show possession and don't use apostrophes.
It belongs to me and the possessive pronouns are my and mine.
Joey: "That's right. I stepped up! She's my friend and she needed help. If I had to, I'd pee on any one of you."
It belongs to you and the possessive pronouns are your and yours.
Phoebe: "She's your lobster."
It belongs to an object and the possessive pronoun is its.
Monica: "Oh! I-I see you moved the green ottoman."
Monica: "How-how did that happen?"
Rachel: "I dunno.. I-I thought it looked better there. And also, it's an extra seat around the coffee table."
Monica: "Yeah, yeah, it's interesting.. but y'know what? Just for fun, let's see what it looked like in its old spot. (She moves it.) Alright, just to compare. Let's see. Well, it looks good there too. Let's just leave it there for a while."
Phoebe: (to Rachel) "I can't believe you tried to move the green ottoman."
It belongs to a man and the possessive pronoun is his.
Phoebe: "Oh look, ugly naked guy is decorating his Christmas tree! Wow, you should see the size of his Christmas balls!"
It belongs to a woman and the possessive pronouns are her and hers.
Chandler: "All right, look if you absolutely have to tell her the truth, at least wait until the timing's right. And that's what deathbeds are for."
It belongs to a group you belong to and the possessive pronouns are our and ours.
Mike: "Well, I know this is gonna sound crazy but we could not let the box of rats ruin our lives."
It belongs to a group you know and the possessive pronouns are their and theirs.
Joey: "Did you know that during pregnancy your fingers swell up to twice their size and never go back."
Rachel: "Oh my God! Let me see that."
Joey: "You fall for it every time."
So remember possessive pronoun = no apostrophe!
It's is a contraction of the words it is or it has.
The apostrophe stands for the missing letters.
It can be confusing because you usually add an apostrophe and s to show belonging. But apostrophe s can also mean a missing letter as in the below example.
Ross: "Every week the TV Guide comes to Chandler and Joey's apartment. What name appears on the address label?"
Rachel: "Oh! Chandler gets it. It's Chandler Bing."
Ross: "I'm afraid the TV Guide goes to Chanandler Bong."
Monica: "I knew that. Rachel, use your head."
Chandler: "Actually, it's Miss Chanandler Bong!"
Apostrophe and s can mean belonging as in the below example.
Ross: "What is the name of Chandler's father's Las Vegas all-male burlesque?"
Monica: "Viva Las Gaygas!"
Chandler: "Unfortunately, that is correct."
The words Chandler and Father have an apostrophe and s to show belonging not a missing letter.
The apostrophe in it's indicates a missing letter.
If you get confused try substituting the missing letter and see if it fits and ask yourself, does it show belonging?
It's Chanandler Bong's TV guide.
Check by substitution - It is Chanandler Bong's TV guide. Yes
Check by possession - Does Chanandler Bong belong to it? No
So it must be It's.
Quick quiz - Are the following quotes correct?
1. Ross: "Uberveiss. It's new, its German, it's extra-tough."
2. Chandler: "She's right, its Jill. Jill Goodacre. Oh my God. I am trapped in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre! (pause) Is it a vestibule? Maybe it's an atrium. Oh, yeah, that is the part to focus on, you idiot!"
3. Phoebe: "Smelly cat, smel-ly cat, what are they feeding you? Smelly cat, smel-ly cat, it's not your fault."
Hope you enjoyed this blog and developed your understanding of its or it's.
Friends always makes me smile!
I am a freelance proofreader with a love of learning, feel free to contact me if you need support with your writing.
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Possessive pronoun - shows that something belongs to someone, for example, my, our, your, his, her, its, and their.
Pronoun - a word that takes the place of a noun (an object or person or place), for example, he, she, it, they, someone, who.
Contraction - a shortened form of two words, where an apostrophe takes the place of the missing letter.
Answers to the quiz
1. Incorrect. Correct answer - Ross: "Uberveiss. It's new, it's German, it's extra-tough."
2. Incorrect. Correct answer - Chandler: "She's right, it's Jill. Jill Goodacre. Oh my God. I am trapped in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre! (pause) Is it a vestibule? Maybe it's an atrium. Oh, yeah, that is the part to focus on, you idiot!"
Thank you for taking the quiz. Hope you enjoyed it.