Its vs. it’s: spotting misplaced apostrophes

I can spot a misplaced apostrophe in a single glance. It’s my superpower. It’s an easy mistake to make, and even the most seasoned writers misplace their apostrophes from time to time.

I’d say its vs it’s is right up there in the Big Three misspelled words with they’re/there/their and who vs. whom. Oh, a fourth – your vs. you’re. We’ll get to those ones in another entry. Hopefully by the end of this, it will be clearer when to use the apostrophe.

FIRST THING TO KNOW

You only need to use an apostrophe in TWO cases in English grammar:

  1. To show ownership (eg. Fatima’s house): Possession is to have; ownership is to own. For example: The mouse was very tiny and its tail was only half an inch long.

  2. To show abbreviation (eg. It’s time to go): It's always means it is, and should never be used to indicate possession or ownership.

NEXT THING TO KNOW

Don't (do not) use the apostrophe with pronouns!

A pronoun is a little word that stands for a thing or a person, such as I, me, my, she, her, he, him, his, it, its, we, us, our, you, your, they, them, their.

Don't write it's unless you mean it is. He is would be he's.

There aren’t that many rules when it comes to apostrophes, so practice, practice, practice, and you’ll rarely lose or misplace your apostrophe.

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