One of the most common spelling mistakes is adding an apostrophe to the word “it” to make it possessive. Various autocorrect algorithms routinely introduce this mistake even if you’ve typed it correctly; the only autocorrect algorithm I know of that seems to leave it right is Grammarly, but don’t trust Grammarly to make it right if you typed it wrong in the first place.
Rather than citing a grammar rule and trying to re-memorize it as the opposite of the wrong rule that already got into your head somehow (even trying to describe that process is confusing!), think categorically instead.
“It” is just a pronoun, like “her” and “him”, right? Whenever you are using “it” as a possessive pronoun, just think of “it” in the same category as “him” and “her”:
- His – Hers – Its
You wouldn’t write all these possessive pronouns with an apostrophe, would you? Try it, and you’ll see immediately that it just looks wrong (because it is wrong):
- Hi’s – Her’s – It’s [PLEASE remember that these are examples of how NOT to do it!]
…so don’t write “its” with an apostrophe either.
…When it’s possessive, anyway. When it’s a contraction of “it is,” that’s when it needs its apostrophe. Possessives and contractions are different categories, so think of “it” as just one pronoun of many in that other category, and write it the same way you write all the others in that category.
When you are contracting passive verbs with pronouns, you use the apostrophe in exactly the same way for each one of them:
- I am = I’m | You are = You’re | It is = It’s
Of course it works with the pronouns we used earlier too:
- He is = He’s | She is = She’s | That is = That’s
Thinking categorically will help you avoid many similar spelling and grammar mistakes!
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