I is for Its (or is it It’s?)

This is a continuation of the A-Z blog challenge.  Click here to see the list of all 1935 participants!

“It’s a beautiful ocean and I’m going to play in its waves!”

Two of the most widely confused written words are in the above sentence: it’s and its. I see the words mixed-up a lot when I beta read. Most of the time, it’s simply a mistake the writer didn’t catch. Sometimes, though, people don’t know the difference between the two. I’d like to try and help clear up the confusion.

What is the difference between it’s and its? It’s simple:

It’s is the contraction for “It is” or “It has”.

Its” shows possession, and always modifies the primary noun in the sentence so you don’t have to repeat it.

For example:

IT’S (It is):

“It’s raining again.” = “It is raining again.”
“It’s a silly play.” = “It is a silly play.”
“It’s my favorite sandwich.” – “It is my favorite sandwich.”

ITS (possessive):

“The cat licked its paw.”
“Its petals fell to the ground.”
“I haven’t seen its kind in many years.”

Like ‘yours’, ‘ours’, ‘his’ and ‘hers’, an apostrophe is not needed to show possession.

Easy, right?  Test your skills below.


1.  I can’t believe its/it’s so cold in here!

2.  Its/It’s a beautiful day!

3.  The penguin is known for its/it’s inability to fly.

4.  The book fell apart, its/it’s spine broken.

5.  The university is very proud of its/it’s reputation.

6.  Its/It’s inconceivable!


1.  it’s

2.  It’s

3.  its

4.  its

5.  its

6.  It’s

How many did you get right?

Just remember, if you can say ‘it is’ in the sentence, use “it’s”. If you can’t, use “its”

Now that you know the difference between your ‘itses’ ( 🙂 ), go check your MS before you send it out to an agent or publisher! They’ll be happy you took the extra time.