Its vs It’s

Contrary to the usual rules of punctuation, “it” does not take an apostrophe in the possessive form. “It’s” is solely a contraction for “It is,” as in “It’s a shame that the chickens got into the kitchen again.”

The possessive form of “it” is “its,” as in “I think that chicken has a junebug in its beak.”

There is nothing wrong with using some contractions in legal writing (but be careful of your audience; some judges may be offended). “It’s” is on the breezy and informal end of the contractions, though, and is unlikely ever to appear in your briefing. If you have a problem knowing when to use “its” and when to use “it’s,” your simplest solution is to never use “it’s.” Set up an autocorrect to convert “it’s” to “its” and the problem will be solved.

I want to learn this forever:

Like “its,” the other possessive pronouns “ours,” “yours,” “theirs,” “his,” and “hers” also take no apostrophe in the possessive. You probably have no inclination whatsoever to use an apostrophe with these, especially with “his.” So when wondering about using an apostrophe, think of all of the personal pronouns together, and use “his” as the model:

Personal pronoun Possessive pronoun
me mine
you yours
him                his
her hers
it its
us ours
they theirs

« »

To stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK