Grammar Hammer: It’s vs. Its — It’s Simple!

It’s September! And for many, that means the dreaded or eagerly anticipated first day of school. DUN DUN DUN! While Mom and Dad shed tears of joy, kids shed tears of sorrow as they shuffle onto the school bus all done up in new shoes and a fresh outfit. School has its pluses and its minuses.

Whether you’re the one going back to school, or maybe just the one pushing kids out the door, make sure you and yours are fully prepared to show off some superior grammar skills by understanding this week’s simple but commonly confused lesson:

Main Rule: It’s means “it is” or “it has.” Its indicates possession.

If you’re not sure, try replacing its or it’s with “it is” or “it has.” If it sounds OK, use an apostrophe. Examples:

  • The school has its recess at noon — can’t wait!
  • The school has it is recess at noon (wrong, no apostrophe)
  • It’sthe first day of school.
  • It is the first day of school. (right, use apostrophe)

Written by Grace Lavigne, senior editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. Grammar Hammer is published weekly on ProfNet Connect, a free social networking site for communicators. To read more from Grace, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

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