Imagine that you walking down a street and you hear two random strangers engage in the following conversations:
Question: Hi, how is your day going?
Speaker 1: Is fine.
Question: I don't think these leaves will be enough for the soup. Should I buy some more leaves?
Speaker 2: No, is okay.
What comes to your mind? Let me guess. You are wondering why both speakers in the examples above tend to omit the syllable /ɪt/, right? You have observed that speaker 1 says "is fine" rather than, “It's fine” while speaker 2 says, "is okay" rather than _“It's okay”. It is common to hear speakers omit a particular sound or syllable in a word while speaking. In phonology, this is known as deletion and can occur subconsciously or due to other phonological factors.
But these mistakes do not only occur while speaking. Sometimes, English users get to mix up some words while writing too.
Last week, we studied the difference between everyday and every day. However, this lesson will discuss the differences between it's and its.
- At the end of the lesson, learners should be able to differentiate both words.
- Apply them appropriately in real-life situations.
There is a video at the end of the post.
First things first, "it" is a third-person singular neuter pronoun which is used in place of inanimate things or ideas.
MOM: I bought you a pair of pyjamas at the market today.
DARA Oh! Please where can I find it?
Here, "it" is used to refer to an inanimate object which is "a pair of pyjamas." If the first speaker made reference to study materials then the pronoun will automatically change to its plural form. Oh! Please where can I find them.
To achieve this, I will share a few tips that had helped me. Now consider the sentence below:
If it's a gorilla then its ears should be smaller than that of the chimpanzee.
Did you observe that both words " it's" and "its" function differently in the sentence?
Let me break it down.
"It's" is a contracted form of "it is" and "it has". It is important to note that contracted forms refer to the short forms of word. They are usually separated by an apostrophe. Common examples of contracted words in English are "it's", "you'll", "can't", "wouldn't", "oughtn't" etc. These words are used mostly in informal writings. So this means that if you are writing something formal like an essay or anything related to business, academics or a job application then you should try as much as possible to avoid using the contracted form of words.
How can "it's" be used in a sentence?
First, it can be used as a short form for "it is".
- It's 5:41 a.m. in Nigeria already.
- Chelsea eats crackers every day because it's her favourite snack.
These are what the sentences above mean
- It is 5:41 a.m. in Nigeria already.
- Chelsea eats crackers every day because it is her favourite snack.
That makes sense, right?
Next, it can be used as the short form of "it has".
- It's been a wonderful experience.
- It's never been the same since Dora passed away.
- It has been a wonderful experience.
- It has never been the same since Dora passed away.
Tip: Note that the contracted form of "it has" is mostly followed by a verb.
Do you understand it better now?
Let us move on to the next word. The word, "its" functions as a possessive pronoun.
You need to understand that pronouns are words used in place of a noun to avoid their monotonous repetition. Thus, possessive pronouns are those pronouns that indicate ownership or possession. i.e. belonging to it. Unlike other nouns, the possessive forms of personal pronouns do not take apostrophe S ('s). E.g theirs, hers, its etc. To explain this, I will use the sentences below.
- An elephant is a large ape with thick furs and long arms. AN ELEPHANT'S trunk is so powerful that it can uproot trees.
To avoid repetition, the capitalized word is substituted with the possessive pronoun "its" which indicates that the trunk (object referred to) belongs to it — the elephant.
√ An elephant is a large ape with thick furs and long arms. Its trunk is so powerful that it can uproot trees.
→ The elephant's tusk is made of dentine.
→ Its tusk is made of dentine
"Its" is used to indicate that the tusk belongs to "the elephant".
Take a Test
Fill the spaces with either "its" or "it's".
- _____ engine is running smoothly.
- I dislike the electioneering process because ______ stressful.
- Economic power is another weapon capitalists use to oppress the proletariat. ______is another weapon capitalists use to oppress the proletariat.
- The elephant's tusk is made of dentine. ______ tusk is made of dentine
- _______ been okay, dear.
- _______ been four years already.