Do I write its or it’s?
Actually, it’s very easy.
It’s is always short for “it is” or “it has”.
- It is snowing. It’s snowing.
- It has finished. It’s finished.
- It has got 6 wheels. It’s got 6 wheels.
Its means “belonging to it” and is a possessive pronoun like “his”.
- Turn the box on its side,
- Did you see its registration number?
- Its atmosphere is romantic.
By Josef Essberger for EnglishClub November 2007
Josef started teaching English as a foreign language in 1991 and founded EnglishClub for learners and teachers in 1997.
Hi Janet. In general, all abbreviations and contractions are relatively informal. So “it’s” is less formal than “it is”. Consequently, yes, it would be wrong to use “it’s” in formal writing (such as an essay or business report). And the same applies to spoken English. We use “it’s” all the time in daily conversation. But if we are speaking in a formal setting, such as a speech or business presentation, we might prefer to use “it is”.
Very interesting your explanation, Joe. I have a doubt of the first example. I heard that “It’s” is only used in informal writing or in dayly conversation. Is that true? Or is there any case where “it’s” can be used. I would like you to give me the clue.
Yes, you are right to say that “its” is an adjective. In fact “its” is a possessive adjective (or determiner). But “its” is also described as a possessive pronoun by Oxford Dictionaries at AskOxford.com:
“The word its means ‘belonging to it’ (as in hold its head still while I jump on its back). It is a possessive pronoun like his.”
I think this is wrong, and in fact the Concise Oxford Dictionary itself describes “its” as a possessive determiner.
In “Current English Grammar” Sylvia Chalker gives two examples which should clarify the issue:
“Its” as determiner: The dog is asleep in its chair.
“Its” as pronoun: It has really made that chair its own. (According to Chalker, the pronoun is comprised of its + own, ie its own.)
elisabetta mauro says:
its is an adjective not a pronoun.