Home > English Grammar > Use it’s and its correctly

Use it’s and its correctly

it's like this

its possessive   The company invested in its new media team.

it’s

short for it is   It’s important for companies to invest in social media.
short for it has   It’s been easy to find people who want to work in social media, but hard to find true professionals.

its’

This word does not exist in English. If you see it, it’s a typo, or worse, a sign of a weak writer.

I don’t want to be a hard-ass grammarian, especially when so many of my friends, relatives and co-workers speak English as a second language, but I’ve noticed way too many instances of it’s and its used incorrectly. Not a big deal when the mistakes appear in quickly written e-mails or text messages, but I’ve seen some glaring examples where the errors should never happen.

  • Marketing copy – A package at a drug store used it’s instead of its.
  • In the movie Paycheck, starring Ben Affleck – A closeup of a news headline shows it’s instead of its.
  • In a May 2 article in The Wall Street Journal – Perhaps the writer was rushing to get the story out—it was about how Muslims are reacting to Osama’s death—but still…it’s The Wall Street Journal.

Either we care about this and use the words correctly, or we just let it slip away. Its It’s our choice.

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Categories: English Grammar Tags: ,
  1. May 5, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    This grammar issue is a huge peeve of mine. I see the “its” and “it’s” errors in well known and massively followed blogs ALL the time. In addition to “their” and “there” and countless other such examples.

  2. Ray
    November 16, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    what about loose, lose, loser, etc? Drives me nuts.

    • November 16, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      Good point! I’ll do a post about loose/lose.

  3. Julie
    February 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Thanks for standing up to bad grammar!

    We can add the use of they’re to the list of there and their.

    Common malapropisms? I once heard “interim shift” for internship!

    Or how about the possessive on names, especially those that end in an “s”, like “Jones”.
    Is it the Jones’ house or the Jones’s house?

    I can’t imagine trying to learn this language!

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