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It’s vs Its

Jun 22, 2011 | Grammar and Writing Tips

This is a tricky one. Sometimes the correct usage contradicts the rules of grammar.  (Doncha just love the English language.)  The rule is that possessives get an apostrophe before the s.  Charlie’s hat… Your cat’s collar… The article’s tone…  There is one word that rule does not hold true for, and it is – you guessed it – it. The only time the s in its gets an apostrophe is when it is a contraction of it is. “It’s time to go… It’s a good idea… It’s true that…

When the s is added to show possessive with any other word, it gets an apostrophe.  With its, it does not. Its only purpose… The newspaper shortened its city section… Science gets in its way…  It doesn’t make sense, because if you replace it with any other noun, the s would get the apostrophe.  The assistant’s only purpose…  They shortened the newspaper’s city sectionScience gets in reality’s way

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