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The use of the apostrophe: it’s versus its

It is easy to use the terms ‘it’s’ and ‘its’ incorrectly. Yet the difference is very simple.

It’s’ is the abbreviated, contracted or shortened form of ‘it is’ or less frequently ‘it has

Whereas ‘Its’ is the possessive form of it – denoting ownership.

An important point to make is that due to the informal nature of contractions such as it’s, they are rarely used in formal written English. This would include the majority of student essays and academic publications.

Please, check out the examples below to get a clearer understanding.


Below are some examples of where ‘it’s’ is used correctly:

  • Despite these developments, it’s still the case that women are under-represented in many occupations.
  • It’s unlikely that this will change in the short-term.
  • It’s been the hottest year on record.
  • It’s difficult to foresee a rapid end to this military conflict.
  • It’s never too late to change.
  • It’s important however not to overstate the likelihood of reform.
  • It’s under the blanket.


Below are some examples of where ‘its’ is used correctly:

  • Hermeneutics had its origins in a method of biblical interpretation formulated by Friedrich Schleiermacher (1760-1834) while he was at the University of Berlin.
  • The government has faced great criticism of its diplomatic policy in Iraq.
  • The first part of this essay will include a clear definition of the term Homoeostasis and description of its origins.
  • The women’s game is being taken more seriously and as such has established its own niche in an otherwise male orientated game.
  • The cat licked its paw.
  • The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is part of our autonomic nervous system, and its arousal enables us to respond to threats by preparing the body for action.
  • Armstrong and Baron (1997) agree with this and state that it depends entirely on the organisation – its culture, structure, technology – the views of the stakeholders and the type of people involved.
  • There are always going to be many varied opinions towards the Performance Management process and its outcomes.
  • As with the performance management process itself, the measurements used must be tailored specifically to suit that particular organisation and its needs.
  • Therefore, it can be argued that the problem the business has is not with its recruitment and selection policies or a glass ceiling.

The ideas presented here are not new, but the writing is. Please consider helping to improve the quality of this article and give other readers the benefits of your wisdom by leaving a comment.

Inspiring and helpful comments may be incorporated into future articles.

Thank you.


One Response to “The use of the apostrophe: it’s versus its”

  1. Anita says:


    Is it ok to use an apostrophy in the case of a weird creation(do not how to call it really) like ” 6C’s”. It is supposed to represent a short for 6 words starting with a C -compassion, courage etc…
    They put apostrophy after that, I would go for “6Cs” without an apostrophy, if only a basic form is needed.
    It would comprise ‘ only if we wanted to say e.g. ” The 6Cs’s meaning can be explained ……”
    What do you think

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