Grammar 101: It's and Its

Last Update: June 22, 2022

Grammar 101: It's and Its

There's no doubt that, in its entirety, English grammar is complex, especially for someone learning English as a second language.

But...

If you're a native English speaker and just want to avoid common grammatical errors in your writing (such as blog posts on your website) there are only a handful of rules that you need to memorize.

So this series of posts is for those who'd like to ditch the Grammarly crutch and just know what's right and what's not.

Here's the first one:

It's and Its

This one is dead easy and yet so many people get it wrong.

It's (with the apostrophe) is ALWAYS an abbreviation for "it is". So all you have to do is substitute "it is" for "it's" in your writing. Does it still make sense?

For example, "It's going to rain today" is an abbreviation for "It is going to rain today" so that's correct usage.

But "In it's entirety, English grammar is complex" expands to "In it is entirety, English grammar is complex" which doesn't make sense and so is incorrect usage.

Never mind that you add an apostrophe s to other words to create a possessive. "Its" is the exception.

So that's your simple rule. Substitute "it is" for "it's" and ask yourself if it still makes sense. After a while, it'll become automatic. You won't have to think it through any more.

Next Post in This Series

Your and You're.

Join the Discussion
Write something…
Recent messages
west2000 Premium
Good grammar is so important, but often overlooked as it's not taught in schools anymore. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was a teacher...she hammered grammar into me...so did my high school drill sergeant English teacher. Reading can also be helpful. Certain words in English can be tricky and it's great to master them. Thanks for pointing this out, Phil.

Susan :-)
Reply
phil1944 Premium
More to come, Susan. You only have to master a few simple rules to cover most of what you write.
Reply
west2000 Premium
Agreed...looking forward to it, Phil.
Reply
phil1944 Premium
This one has dropped down to #10, so I'll probably do the next one today.
Reply
phil1944 Premium
I've just published the second one. You can check it out at .
Reply
phil1944 Premium
I've just published the third one. You can check it out at
Reply
west2000 Premium
Great...thanks, Phil. Looks like you've had a massive response with this topic :-)
Reply
phil1944 Premium
Yes, they've all (so far) made it into the top ten. I think it's a subject that's been crying out for some simple rules.
Reply
west2000 Premium
I think you're right, Phil. It's amazing how many times in general we see these simple words misspelled.
Reply
phil1944 Premium
Yes, and to me at least they stick out like a sore thumb.
Reply
west2000 Premium
You and me both ;-)
Reply
phil1944 Premium
A fellow natural proof-reader? Pleased to meet you, Susan. I've attached a screenshot from an MSN headline.
Reply
west2000 Premium
Absolutely, Phil...that's brilliant! Thanks for the laugh. 😂
Reply
phil1944 Premium
It just astounds me how many headlines I see with typos. I wonder how many sets of eyes passed over it without picking it up.
Reply
west2000 Premium
I concur...with all the tools available, it is a mystery. Maybe it's too time consuming to proofread for those who aren't detail-oriented. That headline was too much ;-)
Reply
phil1944 Premium
I think they just see what it's supposed to be instead of what it is,
Reply
WBlaisure Premium
Thanks papa English teacher. These points are SO important for clarity and sure communication.

I see alot of the simple errors, so I hope readers catch this and put it to use.

You, Diane S., and AbieAJ are doing a great job directing bloggers in ways to better serve their clients.

You got an Amen from my corner!
Reply
phil1944 Premium
Thank you so much, Warren.
Reply
phil1944 Premium
I've just published the second one. You can check it out at .
Reply
WBlaisure Premium
Got it.
Reply
phil1944 Premium
Good.
Reply
phil1944 Premium
I've just published the third one. You can check it out at
Reply
WBlaisure Premium
Read it. Said it. Good words.
Reply
phil1944 Premium
Thanks, Warren.
Reply
Roybretton Premium Plus
Good morning Phil,

Thank you for your interesting and useful blog post.

I actually use Grammarly, but I have to say I feel it often gets it wrong but at the same time it can be very helpful in pinpointing mistakes!

Something that I have noticed in the last couple of years is that Grammarly and Microsoft Word will often ask me to put a comma after the word "and"! I was always taught that you don't have a comma after the word "and"?

Have a great day.

Roy
Reply
phil1944 Premium
Commas in general have become less prolific than they used to be, but the checkers haven't caught up. They usually suggest one after so, as well. I always work on the basis that I know better than they do.
Reply
Roybretton Premium Plus
That sounds like a good principle, Phil, that you know better than the software!

I must admit I recently brought a book on grammar as although I can spell fairly well, I don't really know anything about verbs, nouns, adjectives etc. I would like to know more!

I always think of a comma being in a place where you take a slight breather! Grammarly seems to think differently! I also think that Grammarly can actually take our way of speaking out of the equation!

Roy
Reply
phil1944 Premium
I agree with all of that, Roy. Fortunately, I was brought up in an education system that actually taught (and required you to pass examinations in) grammar, syntax, spelling and punctuation. I always remember one of my sons telling me that he hadn't realized that English had a grammar until he studied French!
Reply
Roybretton Premium Plus
That's great that you had a good education at school, Phil. Thankfully I did learn how to spell and how to add up in my head, which I can still do. I know that the majority of youngsters cannot do this.

It's amazing how a generation can change, regarding your son's experience! I feel that the majority of things that I have learnt have been out of school! I don't mean the last 41 years that I have been out of school, even in the first six months of working, I felt like I learned huge amounts of things!

Roy
Reply
phil1944 Premium
Yes, experience is the greatest teacher.
Reply
Roybretton Premium Plus
Definitely Phil!
Reply
phil1944 Premium
And one whose lessons you ignore at your peril.
Reply
phil1944 Premium
I've just published the second one. You can check it out at .
Reply
phil1944 Premium
I've just published the third one. You can check it out at
Reply
Roybretton Premium Plus
Good morning Phil,

My apologies for the late reply, I have been in Greece for a long weekend, my wife is actually out there at the moment.

I'll have a look Phil, thank you for the reminder, I believe I will learn some useful tips.

Have a great day.

Roy
Reply
phil1944 Premium
Thanks, Roy. Actually, I've posted another one today,
Reply
Roybretton Premium Plus
Thank you Phil, I appreciate you letting me know.

I was actually going to go to your profile page and check out all your latest grammar blogs! It really is something that I want to understand more.

Wishing you a great day.

Roy
Reply
phil1944 Premium
Thanks, Roy. I'm trying to disperse the mystique. You can get by with a few simple rules.
Reply
Roybretton Premium Plus
Thank you, Phil! I always think that simple is good, providing it works!

Roy
Reply
phil1944 Premium
It's a compromise between enough information to work and too much that they won't understand.
Reply
Dhind1 Premium Plus
Love this. Thanks

Alex
Reply
phil1944 Premium
Thanks, Alexander. My pleasure.
Reply
phil1944 Premium
I've just published the second one. You can check it out at .
Reply
phil1944 Premium
I've just published the third one. You can check it out at
Reply
RoweM1 Premium
Thanks, Phil for this course... I have revisited one of my posted story on my website the other day and I found lots of errors and two of them is about this topic lol... I first wrote that using site content and even though there's the spell checker but not for grammatical errors... I'm now using free Grammarly to help me spot those errors.
Reply
phil1944 Premium
Well done, Rowe.
Reply
phil1944 Premium
I've just published the second one. You can check it out at .
Reply
phil1944 Premium
I've just published the third one. You can check it out at
Reply
Top