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Which is correct: "its" or "it's" ?

The apostrophe is probably the most misunderstood of all punctuation marks, and perhaps the greatest confusion of all lies in its use within that important little word "its".


"its" means belonging to it.


"it's" is a contraction of "it is " or "it has".

For example:

Correct: "It's raining again." (It is raining again)

Incorrect: "Its raining again."

If you're not sure which form to use, you can try this simple test:

Expand its into it is or it has and then see if the sentence still makes sense. For example:

"It's going to rain today." can safely be expanded to "It is going to rain today." So the apostrophe stays. On the other hand, "The dog gnawed on its bone." doesn't make sense if you expand it to "The dog gnawed on it is bone", does it? So - no apostrophe required!


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Find the answers to grammatical puzzles like this in The Grammar Cookbook!