It’s or Its? When to use an apostrophe

We write it’s with an apostrophe when it’s a contraction of it is or it has. We don’t use an apostrophe when its is a possessive pronoun.
I think people muddle them up because they confuse possessive nouns with possessive pronouns. We explain the difference in this video and also show you how not to rob a bank.

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Click here to learn the meanings of some prefixes and suffixes.

It’s or Its? When to use an apostrophe

Can I help you?
I have a gun in my pocket and … Oh dear!

Today we’re looking at a mistake that lots of people make when they’re writing. We’re going to learn the difference between its and it’s.

I have a gun.
Yes, that bit’s all right. It’s this ‘its’ that’s a problem.
It needs an apostrophe, see?
I didn’t come here for an English lesson.
The way to remember it is we use an apostrophe when it’s is a contraction of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’.
It is loaded. It’s loaded. Apostrophe.
Great! Is there anything else I can help you with?
Oh yeah.
Open the safe and put…. ah!
What’s wrong now?
Well, see if you can spot the problem. Is its a contraction there?
Put its contents – put it is – oh.
It’s not a contraction.
What is it then?
A possessive pronoun.
A what?
The safe’s contents. Its contents.
With no apostrophe. You know you’re a good teacher.
Thank you. I always wanted to be a teacher.

A lot of native speakers make mistakes with its.
When it’s is a contraction of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’, we write an apostrophe. But when it’s a possessive pronoun, there’s no apostrophe.
I think people get them muddled up because they confuse possessive nouns and possessive pronouns, and they’re different. So let’s look at that.
Here’s some money. If it belongs to Vicki, it’s Vicki’s money. If it belongs to Jay, it’s Jay’s money. And if it belongs to the bank, it’s the bank’s money. The apostrophe ‘s’ shows the money belongs to us. Now these words are possessive nouns, but what if we make them possessive pronouns? My money, his money, its money. Its is a possessive pronoun and there’s no apostrophe.

This is hard.
No, you can do this. There’s a simple way to remember it. Ask yourself: is it’s a contraction? If it is, use an apostrophe. If it isn’t, don’t.
I think you need a quiz.
You didn’t tell me there’d be a quiz.
Write this down. It’s important to get the punctuation right.

OK everyone. Let’s try this quiz. Here’s your first question. Apostrophe or not? Apostrophe. ‘It’s’ is a contraction for it is.
Next one. Is it a contraction? It is… It has… No – so no apostrophe.
OK. Next one. It is empty. That’s a contraction so we need an apostrophe.
Next. This is the contents of the safe – a possessive pronoun. No apostrophe.
Next one. It is? It has? Contractions don’t work. This is a possessive pronoun. No apostrophe.
Last one. What’s this quiz been like?
It has been easy – contraction.

Let me see how you’ve done.
They were hard questions.
But you’ve got them all right.
Well, I asked myself, ‘Is it a contraction or not?’
That was the right question to ask.
OK. thanks, I’m off.
Ooo wait! You’re forgetting something.
Oh yeah!
If you pass the quiz, you get a star.
Wow! Thank you very much. But what about my money and the safe?
Oh. Talk to that man over there.

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Click here to see some grammar videos.
Click here to learn the meanings of some prefixes and suffixes.

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