“Duh” or “Aha”?

Inevitably, having the difference between”its” and “it’s” explained to you will send you out into the streets screaming one or the other. If you find yourself screaming the latter, don’t be ashamed: Way more people are confused by these two little words than would ever admit it. Now get ready to exclaim:

Its = a possessive.

Example: The cat must be hungry. Its bowl is empty. (The bowl belongs to the cat)

It’s = it is, a contraction.

Example: It’s such a rainy night. (It is such a rainy night)

Want an easy trick for telling the difference? Simply substitute “it is” every time you see “it’s” or “its.” It will sound completely and utterly wrong if you use the wrong version. Test your knowledge below. Answers are at the bottom.

  1. A rat will sometimes eat it’s/its young if it’s/its hungry.
  2. It’s/Its crazy how many times I’ve seen Mr. Casubi chase that puppy up and down the street.
  3. Hey, it’s/its my best friend, Yun!
  4. Stop, Fran! Let it’s/its paw stop bleeding before you bandage it.
  5. Why does it look like it’s/its head is nodding?
  6. Yes, of course I’m going to study. Its/It’s the biggest exam of the year.
  7. This blog might not be much, but its/it’s all I’ve got.
  8. Do you think its/it’s important to address workplace conflicts before they fester?
  9. That’s the nuttiest idea Calvin has had in a long time. It’s/Its even more cockamamie than that time he planted a ficus in Mrs. Schomaker’s shoe.
  10. What kind of ice cream is it’s/its favorite? Vanilla or chocolate caramel?


(1.) Its, it’s (2.) It’s (3.) It’s (4.) Its (5.) Its (6.) It’s (7.) It’s (8.) It’s (9.) It’s (10.) Its




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