When to use Its or It's

Text with the word Its circled in red ink

Some words may sound similar yet have entirely different meanings. For example "its" and "it's" come high on our list of popular confusing word-pairs.

Moreover, include or omit the apostrophe between the "t" and "s" and we completely change the meaning of our sentence. Whether you're writing nonfiction publications or fiction novels, make sure you understand the differences between "its" and "it's".

Let's define and explore these differences now:

  • "Its" refers to something that belongs to "it". For example: "The software comes with its own printed manual."
  • However, "it's" is a contraction or combining of the two words "it "and "is" into a single word. Remember in writing, a contraction is a way of joining and shortening two related words. For example: "It's been some time coming ...", is short for saying: " It has been a long time coming ..."

Key tip: especially when working within nonfiction or technical publications and guidance manuals, although you need to be aware of the differences between "its" and "it's", remember, the word "it" and any of the related variations, can introduce additional vagueness or confusion to the meaning of any sentence.

Key tip: for instructional materials especially, consider carefully whether you need to use "it", "its" or "it's" at all. If possible, use a different word entirely or re-write your sentence to omit "it". As a result, you may find, that through applying a little editing, your sentence meaning is subsequently made clearer, tighter, to help deliver a more precise and concise finish.

Having Fun With The "It" Family In Fiction

For fiction and mimicking human conversations, we'll use "it", "its", and "it's" constantly since that is how many of us speak informally. No problem, have fun with that.

However, in all situations, your intended meaning should be made clear. Sometimes, using "it", "its", or "it's" can still confuse.

The remedy: just be mindful of the issues that the use of "it", and it's derived words, can bring, then make your considered decision.

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