Difference Between Its and It’s (With Table)

Its vs It’s

The basic difference between the words it’s and its is the state of the words. It’s is a contraction of the words ‘it is or it has’ which makes it a combination of a pronoun and helping verb, hence a fragment. Its, on the other hand, is a possessive pronoun of the third person singular pronoun, it.

Both are used in entirely different sentence structures because it’s will be used to describe a state of action or quality in the present continuous or present perfect tense. Its is instead used when an object or quality is related to another object or animal for whom the pronoun used will be it.  


Parameter of ComparisonIt’sIts
Number of wordsTwoOne
State of wordFragment (subject and helping verb)Possessive pronoun of it
Use of apostropheTo compensate for omission of letterNot used
TensePresent or Present PerfectNot a verb so no tense
MeaningIt is or It hasBelonging to it
ExampleIt’s a beautiful bouquet.
It’s got roses and lilies.
The cat is eating from its bowl.

 

What is the Meaning of Its?

‘Its’ is the possessive pronoun for it. It is the third person singular pronoun that is used for inanimate objects and animals. For example, the pronoun for a cat will be it. Something that belongs to this cat will be phrased as ‘its belonging’, say ‘the cat eats from its bowl and plays with its toys’.

Pronouns are always used with a noun so the use of its in sentences will always be as an adjective, defining the ownership of an object or quality by a subject.

It will not be classified by any tense and will not be affected by a sentence in present, past or future tense. For example, a cat’s bowl will always be phrased as its bowl whether it is its bowl, it was its bowl or it will be its bowl.  

‘Its’ can only be used as a noun. It cannot be used with a verb or an adjective. The reason is that a verb is an action and cannot be related to a subject, neither an adjective which is a quality of a noun. Unless this verb or adjective is further describing a noun. For example,

  1. ‘Its walking’ makes no sense, however, ‘its walking stick’ will be grammatically correct
  2. ‘its pretty’ makes no sense, however, ‘its pretty color’ will be grammatically correct

It is to be further noted that a verb when describing a noun becomes an adjective so collectively it can be said that ‘its’ can only be used with noun whether it is solitary or accompanied by an adjective.

Its
 

What is the Meaning of It’s?

It’s is a contraction of the words ‘It is’ or ‘It has’. The ‘comma’ in between the letters t and s is called an ‘apostrophe’. An apostrophe, when used in between a word or two words, is when a letter or two is omitted from that word or words to shorten them. It is a third-person pronoun and is or has are helping verbs.

Hence a pronoun and a helping verb form the first fragment of a sentence. It does not have the full meaning of its own unless the sentence is completed with a verb, a noun, or an adjective. For example, it’s will only be meaningful if

  1. The verb is used with it, for example, ‘It’s raining’ (It is raining)
  2. The noun is used with it, for example, ‘it’s a mountain’ (It is a mountain’)
  3. The adjective is used with it, for example, ‘It’s pretty’ (It is pretty)
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However, in the second case where it’s is used with a common noun, there’s always an article between the common noun and it’s. Because saying ‘it is ball’ will be grammatically wrong. But with a proper noun, that will not be the case as saying ‘it is John’ will be grammatically correct.

Similar will be the case for ‘it has’, however, there will be an additional present perfect helping verb will have to be inserted for appropriate tense.

For example, ‘It’s been raining’ will mean ‘It has been raining’. Hence, by use of another helping verb, present continuous tense will be changed to present perfect tense.

It is to be noted that ‘it’s’ will not mean ‘it was’. That is, this contraction can only be used for the present tense and not applicable for the past tense.

Its 1
It’s

Main Differences Between Its and It’s

  1. It’s is a combination of two words whereas its is a single word
  2. It’s is a fragment of a sentence, a combination of pronoun and helping verb whereas its is a possessive pronoun
  3. It’s describes a state or tense of a sentence whereas its describes an object or quality as belonging of a third person
  4. It’s does not have a meaning in itself whereas its has its own meaning
  5. It’s is a part of a sentence whereas its is a word   

 

Infographic

It’s vs Its

 

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Conclusion

The words it’s and its are differentiated by the use of the apostrophe in between the letters t and s in the former. The apostrophe is used when there’s to be a letter or two omitted from a word or words and also for when to define something as belonging to a subject.

However, when a pronoun is used for a subject, a possessive pronoun replaces the apostrophe and so for it, the apostrophe is not used to show belonging rather for the pronoun its is used.

It will not mean though, that according to the rule of the apostrophe for words ending with an s, its’ is the right word. The reason behind it will be the same that the possessive pronoun is not affected by the rules of an apostrophe. Just like his or hers will never be his’ or hers’.

It is simple to remember when to use it’s and its. If in the sentence ‘it is’ or ‘it has’ is making sense, then it’s is used otherwise its will be used.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between Its and It’s

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Its and It’s. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Difference Between Its and Its
Word Cloud for Its and It’s

 

References

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/its
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/it’s

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