- It’s-This should actually be the easiest usage to get correct. The only time you should use this form of the word is when it can replace the phrase “it is”. When the apostrophe is between the “t” and the “s” it creates a contraction. Basically you are combining two words into one to save a little space on the page. Example: “It’s going to rain.”
- Its-This signals ownership. Normally the owner will not have a defined sex (otherwise you can use “his” or “her”). Additionally, if you are showing ownership by multiple individuals, “their” would work as well. Example: “The dog chased its ball around the yard.”
- Its’-This word does not actually exist in the English language. Don’t use it. Make sure you are using one of the two versions above.
Photo Credit: Asif Akbar via sxc.hu
One of the most common grammatical mistakes I see people make it misusing “its,” “it’s,” and “its’.” I can understand the confusion and honestly it is sometimes hard to determine which one is correct so I hope this brief overview can help clear up the confusion.
Photo Credit: Roger Kirby via sxc.hu
At the risk of angering John McWhorter I’m going to proclaim that the sky is indeed falling. The proper use of punctuation is a dying art. More generally, it sometimes seems like ANY use of punctuation is a dying art. I have to confess that I don’t punctuate my text messages 100% of the time, but I’m pretty close. Maybe I’m a bit old fashioned, but I like people to know when one thought ends and another begins.
Let's take another look at that previous paragraph
Don’t get me wrong, I think McWhorter is absolutely right that kids today are learning two different languages, the language of true written word, and the language of speech and shorthand communication. This dual fluency is fantastic. I just don’t want us to lose the beauty and grace of the written word as it was originally intended to be used.