Its or It’s: Definition and Example Sentences

Its vs It's

Its and it’s sound the same and they have similar spellings. However, they have two different meanings.

The difference between these two forms is that the second it’s has an apostrophe between the letter “t” and “s”.

In this lesson, we will look at the difference between its and it’s and when to use each one.

The main rule: The easiest way to determine which word to use is to ask yourself whether you want to say it is or it has. If the answer is yes, then use it’s. Otherwise, use its.

Its meaning and use

The word its is a possessive pronoun. We use its when referring to something that belongs to someone or something someone owns. Other possessive pronouns include your/his/her/my/our/their. When we use its we’re generally referring to a thing or a place.


  • The cat is eating its food.

In this example, its indicates that the food belongs to the cat.

  • London is famous for its tourist attractions.

In this case, the word its indicates that the tourist attractions belong to or are associated with London.

It’s meaning and use

It’s with an apostrophe is a contraction of it is or it has. The meaning of it’s depends on the context in which it is used.


  • It’s important to study before an exam. 

In this example, the sentence is “It is important to study before an exam”. However, the words It is have been shortened to It’s.

  • The package arrived on time because it’s been shipped express.

In this example, the sentence is “The package arrived on time because it has been shipped express” so the words it has have been shortened to it’s.

Additional examples of its vs. it’s

Examples of its:

  • The bird built its nest in the tree.
  • The company lost its biggest client last quarter.
  • The hotel raised its room rates during the peak season.

Examples of it’s:

  • It’s important to get enough sleep every night.
  • I can’t believe it’s already the end of the year.
  • It’s been a while since we last talked.

Think you’ve got a good handle on when to use its vs. it’s? Test your knowledge with this grammar quiz —>

If you’re ever confused about which its or it’s to use then think about whether the sentence would make sense if you included it is or it has.

If it makes sense then include it’s with the apostrophe, however, if the sentence doesn’t make sense with it is or it has then you know you have to use the possessive pronoun its.

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