For Sticklers – It’s or its? The proper use of apostrophes
The correct use of the apostrophe is probably the most common punctuation problem. Native and non-native speakers alike abuse this poor little punctuation mark by putting it where it doesn’t belong or leaving it out where it does.
It shouldn’t be so difficult, because the apostrophe has only three functions, all straightforward.
It’s is the short form of it is (it’s windy today).
Its is the possessive pronoun (the company lost all its customers). If you’re not sure whether to use an apostrophe, try to break down the word into it is. You can say it is windy today, but you can’t say The company lost all it is customers.
1. to show OMISSION
It’s not too difficult = it is
It shouldn't be so difficult = should not
You've only to remember two rules = you have
Don't worry = do not
2. to show the PLURAL of LOWER CASE ABBREVIATIONS
● In the 1990s, more and more Americans bought suv’s (sport andutility vehicle).
● Note that there is no apostrophe in 1990s.
3. to show POSSESSION
Use ’s after
● singular words and words that end in ‘s’: boss’s, Jones’s, cat’s
● plurals that do not end in ‘s’: children’s, Frenchmen’s
Use s’ on
● plurals that end in ‘s: footballers’ wives, Journalists’ work
● the United States: The United States next president could be a women.
Exercise: Choose between ‘it’s’ and ‘its’ in these five sentences.
a) It’s / its your turn to make the coffee.
b) I found this pocket calculator on the floor. It’s / its yours, isn’t it?
c) The aircraft lost it’s / its way in the snowstorm.
d) It’s / its easy getting up in summer when the sun shows it’s / its face.
e) The company is releasing it’s / its quarterly results this afternoon.
Solution: a) It’s b) It’s c) its d) It’s and its e) its