Music and Words

December 1, 2009

It’s ITS!

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 12:10 am

PEOPLE! It’s really not that hard!

Pop quiz: which is correct?
A) Its licking me with it’s long tongue!
B) It’s licking me with it’s long tongue!
C) It’s licking me with its long tongue!
D) Its licking me with its long tongue!

The word “its” is a possessive pronoun. Like, my dog ate its dinner quickly tonight. Its keyboard is easy to type on. Its bowl is over there. You get the idea.

The word “it’s”, on the other hand, is a contraction. It is a shortened form of two separate words – it is. Like, it’s time to leave now. It’s not fair! It’s wrong. It’s green. It’s licking me and it won’t stop! Whatever.

Yes, I know it seems backward. I know in the rest of the English language, you would put an ‘s after something to indicate possession. BUT NOT IN THIS CASE! Not with It.

Generally speaking, if in doubt, use the apostrophe. It’s probably correct. You see, in this country, we have a habit of anthropomorphicizing (I’m sure that’s not right) everything, so if you’re using a possessive pronoun, it will probably be his or hers, not its.

You can also read the sentence, but substitute the words “it is” for the its/it’s. If the sentence still makes sense, then use the contraction. For example: you wouldn’t say that my dog ate “it is” dinner quickly tonight, so the contraction can’t be right. You would, however, say that “it is” time to leave now, so the contraction is used in this case.

Remember: when dealing with It, the apostrophe means it’s taking the place of two words. No apostrophe means something belongs to It.

So how about your pop quiz? The correct answer is C. The first It is the contraction (it is licking) and the second is possessive (it has a long tongue).



  1. This was on grammatical quirk that took me a very long time to get. Now it seems so easy.

    Comment by fitzage — December 1, 2009 @ 7:15 am

  2. Reading this post would drive the Knights of Ni crazy.

    Comment by easykeys88 — January 2, 2010 @ 11:00 pm

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