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Its (without an apostrophe) is the possessive of the pronoun “it”. You will also come across “it’s” (with an apostrophe). This is a contraction of “it is” or “it has”. Because they are pronounced the same but have different meanings, we call these words homophones. These words are often confused – even by native English speakers. So, how do we tell the difference between them? In this IELTS Grammar 101, we’ll give you some tips on telling them apart. 

  • Difference between its and it’s 

  • Synonyms of its and it’s 

  • Use its and it’s in a sentence 

Its or it's: the difference

Its 

Is a determiner: A modifying word that determines the kind of reference a noun or noun group has, for example a, the, every. 

It’s 

A contraction: The process of shortening a word by combination or abbreviation.

Its or it's: the definitions

Its 

  • Belonging to or associated with a thing previously mentioned or easily identified 

  • Belonging to or associated with a child or unspecified sex. 

It’s 

  • Contraction of “It is” or “It has”

Its or it's: the synonyms

Its 

Could also mean (synonyms): Owned, hers, his, theirs, yours 

It’s 

Does not have any synonyms

Its or it's: in a sentence 

Its 

  • I loved the cut of the dress but had issues with its colour. 

  • In the dead of the night, all we could hear was its footsteps. 

  • The television didn't fit its stand.

  • The laptop is too big for its case. 

  • The company issued a statement about its new policy.

It’s 

  • It’s so cold in Melbourne. 

  • Choose what you want but it’s all the same in my opinion. 

  • I hope it’s not too difficult for you. 

  • It’s been almost a week of waiting. 

  • It’s nice to know that my work is recognised.

Want to learn more about commonly confused words?

In written English, it is important to know the correct spelling of a word you want to use. You don’t want to write “weak” when you mean “week” even though they sound the same. In spoken English, spelling is less important, but pronunciation is. Think about the word “lead”, which can be pronounced as “led” or “leed.” Because these words cause a lot of confusion, it’s well worth spending a few minutes to understand the difference: homophones vs homographs vs homonyms. Read more here

People often use elude when they mean allude, or write allude when they should really write elude. There are other commonly confused words too: Do you know the difference between belief or believe? That is the question in another article where we explain the difference between these two commonly misused words. Read it here