Word Usage: Its and It's
Its and it's are homonyms—words that sound alike but have different meanings. Only the
apostrophe sets these two words apart. Let's explore the difference between them in this usage tip.
Writing the contraction form it's instead of the possessive form its is a surprisingly
easy error to make. One reason may be that an apostrophe with the letter s often indicates the possessive
form of other words (eg, Barb's book).
its (adjective): possessive form of it
The drug was developed 10 years ago, but its full potential as a treatment for osteoporosis is not known.
it's (contraction): short form of "it is" or "it has"
The drug was developed 10 years ago, and it's now being used to treat osteoporosis.
Note: Contractions are usually not recommended for formal writing.
Quick Tip: Its vs It's
Each time that you write it's
, take a moment to ask these questions:Does it's = "it is"?
Does it's = "it has"?
If the answer is "no" to both questions, remove the apostrophe.
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