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English Grammar: Its or It’s?

English Grammar: Its or It's, student taking an exam

Commons Mistakes in English Grammar: it’s or its?

Many people learning the English language find there are some words and phrases that are very easy to muddle up. One of the most common mistakes English language students make is to confuse “it’s” and “its” in written English. This is a mistake many native English speakers make too, so it’s not surprising that so many ESL learners also struggle with it.

So English grammar: it’s or its? Let’s take a look at some examples:

It’s

It’s means “it has” or “it is”.  

It’s sunny today.
It’s a good film.
It’s not time to go yet.
It’s been a long day.
Look at that dog. It’s got spots on it.
It’s taken a long time to get to our destination.

Its

Meanwhile, “its” is simply the possessive form for “it”. This can cause confusion for many English language learners, because possessives often have an apostrophe. It is similar to words like “his” and “hers”, which also don’t need an apostrophe. Look at these examples:

I’m not enjoying this book. Its content is quite dull.
The tree had lost its leaves.

I’m watching a film. Its title is “Gone with the Wind”.

If you’re unsure whether to use it’s or its, try saying the whole sentence aloud with “it has” first, followed by “it is”.  Now does it make sense?

I’m watching a film. It has title is “Gone with the Wind”  (incorrect).

or

I’m watching a film. It is title is “Gone with the Wind”? (also incorrect).

It can take a while and a bit of practice to really get the hang of the difference between “it’s” and “its”. However, if this is causing you problems while you’re studying at Bloomsbury International language school, then be sure to speak to your tutor about it. They may be able to recommend some exercises that will help you to master the distinction.

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