It's time for a quick tip! One of the most common, simple spelling/grammar mistakes we see is the misuse of its and it's. And if your autocorrect is like mine, sometimes even knowing which one you want to use isn't good enough.
Always double check its/it's by thinking if it should be expanded into "it is."
Every single time I use either form, I check. (As an added bonus, that way, when my auto "correct" messes it up for me, I catch it.)
"Its" is the possessive form: The dog chased its tail.
Double-check: does The dog chased it is tail make sense? No? Then I want the form without the apostrophe, and I'm good.
"It's" is the contraction of it is: It's cold tonight.
Double-check: does It is cold tonight make sense? Yes? Then I want the apostrophe.
The reason this is confusing is that with other nouns, we add an apostrophe+s to indicate possession. But we don't do it with pronouns, and that's what "it" is.
So let's practice a few:
Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Double-check: It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. So I would want to add in the ' here.
Once there was a cat who loved its owner.
Double-check: Once there was a cat who loved it is owner. So no ' is correct.
Hopefully this quick tip will help you next time you want to use its--or was it it's?--in your writing!
Every Wednesday and Saturday we bring you an edit tip of the day. Be sure to check out the archives for our popular summer series of SHOW DON'T TELL workshops!