Both are used in entirely different sentence structures because they will be used to describe a state of action or quality in the present continuous or present perfect tense.
It is instead used when an object or quality is related to another object or animal for whom the pronoun used will be it.
- “It’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has” and is used to indicate a state or action.
- “Its” is a possessive pronoun, showing ownership or association with something.
- To choose the correct form, consider whether the intended meaning requires a contraction or a possessive pronoun.
Its vs It’s
The difference between the words it’s and its is the state of the words. It is a contraction of the words ‘it is, or it has’, which makes it a combination of a pronoun and a helping verb, hence a fragment. On the other hand, it is a possessive pronoun of the third-person singular pronoun.
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|Parameter of Comparison||It’s||Its|
|Number of words||Two||One|
|State of word||Fragment (subject and helping verb)||The possessive pronoun of it|
|Use of apostrophe||To compensate for the omission of a letter||Not used|
|Tense||Present or Present Perfect||Not a verb, so there is no tense|
|Meaning||It is, or It has||Belonging to it|
|Example||It’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. The third-person singular pronoun 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 ‘it’s belonging’, say ‘the cat eats from its bowl and plays with its toys’.
Pronouns are always used with nouns, 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 the 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.
‘It’s’ 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, nor an adjective, a quality of a noun.
Unless this verb or adjective is further describing a noun. For example,
- ‘It is walking’ makes no sense; however, ‘its walking stick’ will be grammatically correct
- ‘it’s pretty makes no sense; however, ‘its pretty colour’ 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 ‘it’s’ can only be used with a noun whether it is solitary or accompanied by an adjective.
What is the Meaning of It’s?
It 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 will only be meaningful if
- The verb is used with it, for example, ‘It’s raining (It is raining)
- The noun is used with it, for example, ‘it’s a mountain’ (It is a mountain’)
- The adjective is used with it, for example, ‘It’s pretty (It is pretty)
However, in the second case, where it 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.
A similar will be the case for ‘it has’; however, an additional present perfect helping verb will have to be inserted for the appropriate tense.
For example, ‘It’s been raining’ will mean ‘It has been raining’. Hence, by use of another helping verb, the present continuous tense will be changed to the 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 is not applicable to the past tense.
Main Differences Between It and It’s
- It is a combination of two words, whereas it is a single word
- It is a fragment of a sentence, a combination of pronoun and helping verb, whereas its is a possessive pronoun
- It’s describes a state or tense of a sentence, whereas its describes an object or quality as belonging to a third person
- It does not have a meaning in itself, whereas its has its meaning
- It’s is part of a sentence, whereas its is a word
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Emma Smith holds an MA degree in English from Irvine Valley College. She has been a Journalist since 2002, writing articles on the English language, Sports, and Law. Read more about me on her bio page.