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Use of it's and its in English - English Grammar Lesson Online

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Introduction

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In this lesson we will learn the correct usage of It’s and its in English.

Explanation

Susan : Its and it’s sound the same in English so people get often confused while using them. It’s is written with an apostrophe mark before s, while its does not have an apostrophe.

Marc : Yes Susan. It’s is actually a contraction for it is or it has. In English we use the apostrophe to denote contractions, as in can’t for cannot, won’t for will not and so on. It’s is a contraction for it is and sometimes it has.

Susan : That’s right, and its is an English word that is used to express possession. You use it when you want to tell somebody that something belongs to somebody or something else.

Marc : Yes, for example: I have a guard dog. Its job is to bark when someone enters my house.

Susan : Here’s an example of it’s with the apostrophe. This cell phone is not yours. It’s mine.

Marc : Its can also be used to refer to one’s features or characteristics, for example : My dog is a German Shepherd. Its teeth are really big.

Susan : Right! And if you use it has, you can say : My dog is a German Shepherd. It’s got big teeth.

Marc : Another example of its : My German Shepherd has long fur. Its coat is brown and black.

Susan : It’s got a brown and black coat.

Marc : In your sentence it’s is short for it has. Great example Susan.

Susan : Yes Marc. Remember that It’s with the apostrophe is short for it is or it has, and its without apostrophe is a word for ownership or some quality that is possessed by something or someone.

Marc : Let’s see some sample conversations.

At a coffee shop

Marc : Susan I am having a Cappucino. It’s the best coffee in my opinion.

Susan : I don’t think so Mark. Its milk content is too high. I don’t like it so much.

Marc : You are right, it’s very milky. If you like darker coffee, have a Mocha.

Susan : No. I don’t like Mocha either. Its sugar content is too high.

Marc : Yeah, it’s got a layer of chocolate at the bottom too. It’s not good if you are on a diet. What about an Espresso? It’s good strong coffee!

Susan : I like Espresso. Its taste is very nice!

Marc : Great! Then it’s a Cappucino for me, and an Espresso for you.

At the zoo

Susan : Marc! Robin and I went to the zoo yesterday.

Marc : Did you? It’s got lots of animals, hasn’t it?

Susan : Yes! I saw a giraffe. Its neck was so long!

Marc : Yep, the giraffe is the tallest animal. It’s got a really long neck.

Susan : And a monkey. Its tail was really big.

Marc : A monkey uses the tail to hang onto branches. It’s a prehensile tail.

Susan : Its tail is prehensile? What’s prehensile?

Marc : It’s a tail that can be used to hold something like a branch.

Susan : Yes, its tail was prehensile. I saw it swinging from a branch using its tail.


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