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Today’s 5 Minute Grammar Lesson is a very serious topic. It’s one of the biggest grammar fails I see. Do yourself a HUGE favor and learn when to use IT’S, ITS, and ITS’. You will gain so much writing credibility. For REALS!

WeeklyGrammar - It's or Its or Its'

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5 Minute Grammar Lesson – IT’s or ITS or ITS’?

I’m thoroughly convinced a good 85% of the US population does not understand when to use IT’S, ITS, and ITS’. And here’s my confession: until I started teaching COLLEGE level composition classes, I’m not sure I understood either.

But here’s the deal.


You wouldn’t say HIS’S to make His possessive would you? How about MY’S? And you shouldn’t say IT’S to notate possession either.

IT’S is a contraction that means IT IS. It is never, ever, ever, ever, EVER used to make the pronoun IT possessive.

If you want to use It’s – do me a favor. Do a quick test. Can you substitute IT IS and still have your sentence make sense? If not, DON’T USE IT!

For instance, I saw a BILLBOARD (imagine the expense this company went to to have this billboard made) recently on my drive back to Iowa from Missouri. It said:

“Deer Processing at IT’S Best.” My quick test will tell you that the billboard is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

Deer Processing at It IS best? WRONG!

The billboard should read” “Deer processing at ITS best.” I debated on telling the deer processing. I wasn’t sure if they would bill me or send me some summer sausage. So I just kept my mouth shut.

But you might be bolder than I am and tell them! Let me know if you get some summer sausage from the deer processing company on Highway 61 in Northern Missouri!


Okay, so if IT’S really means IT IS, why don’t we use an apostrophe to make ITS possessive? You guys, I have no freaking idea. English is a really, really, really goofy language sometimes. But the truth of the matter is that if you want to notate possession, do NOT use an apostrophe with IT.

How did the turtle get inside its shell?

How did the dog find its bone?


Any you guys. Seriously. ITS’ is NOT A WORD. Never, ever use ITS’. Never. Just no. It’s so wrong. 😉

Its or It's or ITS' 5 Minute Grammar Lesson

And that, my friends, is your 5 minute grammar lesson. Let me know how many places YOU see it’s misused. I guarantee if you look around, you’ll find plenty of examples!

Want more grammar posts? Here you go.

Bias or Biased?

Do to or Due to?

Broke or Broken?

Who’s or WHOSE?

How to make the word PEOPLE possessive

And if you’re looking for helpful grammar resources, here are my top picks:

Grammarly – Instantly fix over 250 types of errors with this free web-based grammar checker!

Strunk & White Elements of Style

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation 

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation 

The Grammar Girl’s Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. THANK YOU!!!
    I can’t tell you how many bloggers become just a little bit less legit in my mind when I see these grammar mistakes:
    -alright/ all right
    -and misuse of the apostrophe in possessions – it belongs to all three of the families = families’, NOT family’s
    *It’s* really not that hard. Please consider doing the your/you’re one. If you’ve already done it, please do a re-run! When I see that one misused, I usually won’t even bother to read the rest of the post. I know I’m probably missing out on some great information, but I just can’t seem to get past that one.

  2. yay! one that I do right! 🙂 I do that substitution test on it all the time. I’m glad to know I’m doing something right!

  3. Oh yes, another awful thing to read!!!!
    I also have a huge fit when I see “your” and “you’re” mixed up…

  4. I know this is late but my daughter and I had a similar conversation last week. I told her how I learned the proper use of it’s vs its. It was actually from a book I read as a child. One of the character’s had a genius older sister who was tutoring her in English. The older sister said “Remember, its owns its ‘s’ because it is possessive.” Funny how little things like that stick.