"Its" and "it's" are among the most commonly confused words. "Its" refers to the possessive form of the pronoun "it." For example, when referring to a pair of shoes, you might say, "That's not its box."
Meanwhile, "it's" is the contraction for the words "it is" or "it has." For example, "It's (it is) going to be a fabulous night" or "It's (it has) been a fabulous night."
What tends to happen is someone might forget to add the apostrophe to "it's." You'll see things like, "Its been a magical few weeks" or "That's not what its like." Let's take a closer look at "its" and "it's," including the correct usage and examples of both words.
As we know, "its" shows possession for the pronoun "it" while "it's" is the contraction for "it is." One thing you should never use is its' with the apostrophe after the final S. That's because the missing letter isn't after the "s." The missing "i" is between "t" and "s" for "it is." The same is true for the miss "ha" between "t" and "s" for "it has." Here's more on using contractions correctly.
WIth that in mind, let's dive deeper into "its" vs. "it's."
"Its" is the possessive version of the pronoun "it." Many people find this confusing because possessives normally have an apostrophe (for example Joe's cookies or everyone's lunch). "Its," however, doesn't have an apostrophe when it is used as a possessive.
Some examples of "its" used as a possessive include:
This cheese is past its expiration date.
Its front door will open when you're nearby.
This book is better than its cover would suggest.
In its most basic form, this plan will work.
This frog is too small for its aquarium.
Its greatest attribute is its flexibility.
What is its country of origin?
Its scent fades, but the memories will last forever.
The plant is in its pot.
Its tires spun out of control on the ice.
I'll take that puppy and all its siblings.
Its demise contributed to the town squabble.
The truck parked itself neatly in its bay.
If its engine restarts, we'll go to the party.
The bird is in its house.
One way to double check yourself is to re-read the sentence, saying "it is" wherever you've placed "its." For example, does it make sense to say, "The bird is in "it is" house"? Nope. That's how you'll know to remove the apostrophe from an unneeded "it's."
"It's," on the other hand, is used as a contraction for "it is" or "it has." Remember, the apostrophe goes before the "s," where the "i" (or "ha" in the case of "it has") is missing. Let's look at some examples of "it's" in a sentence.
We've got to be downtown at four and it's still not here.
It's always raining.
Some days I think it's a wonderful world.
She said it's only a fifteen minute drive.
I don't know if it's his or not.
It's nice inside the house.
I know it's hard, but you'll be okay.
It's a nice car.
In our house, it's okay to sit by the fire and read a book all night.
It's fun to go to the fair.
Can't you tell it's a zinnia, not a gerber daisy?
It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
That's exactly how it's going to be.
It's been an unforgettable day.
Of course, it's our dog!
Feel free to apply the same test here. Take apart it's and see if the sentence needs an "it is." In the last example, "Of course, it is our dog," would work just fine. But, for brevity's sake, the contraction works well too.
Fear not. "It's" vs. "its" is something that starts to come naturally the more you use it. Ready to mix things up a little? Now that we know when to use an apostrophe in "it's," how about a few examples of when it's NOT good to use an apostrophe? Dates and plural words are two of the largest areas. Until then, enjoy knowing you've mastered the "its" debate!