Using apostrophes - Lesson 2
Video source: Choosing between its and it’s | The Apostrophe | Punctuation | Khan Academy featuring David and Paige. (opens in new tab) (Watching time: 2m:30secs)
Its and It's
The basic difference between its and it's
What is the difference between ...it's... and ...its...?
→It's← (with an apostrophe) always means it is or it has. It is a contraction (which we avoid in academic essays). Therefore, it is unlikely that you would use it in your essay - ever.
→Its← (with no apostrophe) is either a possessive adjective, or a possessive pronoun, and they already mean ownership. That is why they are called possessive - they never use an apostrophe.
Note: "its", "his", and "whose" appear on both lists (which is sometimes confusing when you're trying to work out what role they may have in your sentence).
Look at how it's and its are working differently in the following example sentences.
I would like to catch the bus to work but it's not convenient.
Near Eastern politics had experienced throughout its history a number of political systems.
Pronouns that tell you who possesses what - and what they have to do with all this.
Possessive pronouns such as mine, hers, his, its, theirs, ours...
Possessive pronouns are very similar to possessive adjectives. They also have the concept of ownership embedded within the meaning so they never need an apostrophe.
He placed his hand in hers, and they walked quietly away. Victory was theirs.
Whose book is this? If it is yours then someone has stolen ours.
Apostrophes replacing missing letters
When an apostrophe replaces a letter to make a word combination easier to say.
Apostrophes in place of a letter (informal):
Sometimes apostrophes are used to indicate that some letters have been removed from a word.
The government should've seen the riots coming, but they didn't.
As we've shown in our research, it's difficult to teach non-verbal aspects of a language.
The protest movement gained new impetus worldwide in the '60s.
Instructions: Hover or tap the questions below to see the reason for the answers given in the quiz.
1. A student asks "Which essay was best, mine or ______"
Is it their's or theirs?
Why: Theirs means belonging to them (just like mine means 'belonging to me')
*Their's* (with apostrophe) is not a word in English.
2. We must observe this method in an attempt to reveal _____ secrets.
Is it it's or its?
- its is a possessive pronoun meaning belonging to it.
- it's always means "it is" or "it has". Try putting "it is/has" into this sentence and see whether it still makes sense.
3. In the ______, digital technology signalled the death of the vinyl recording industry.
Is it '80s or 80's?
Why: Dates such as the 1980s represent a plural span of years (10 of them). The apostrophe is used here to indicate that some content has been removed for convenience but is still implicit in the grammar. 'The 1980s becomes the '80s.
4. Once you've finished, the rest of the day is _____.
Yours or your's?
Why: Pronouns do not need an apostrophe because they already mean ownership (by themselves).