Its or It’s?
The rule that defines when you should write “its” and when you should use “it’s” is incredibly simple, but no matter how many times the desperate linguists reiterate it, a lot of people still get it wrong. Well, the missing apostrophe in “it’s” usually just means that the person in question couldn’t be bothered to use apostrophes at all, especially when text-messaging someone. But the unwanted apostrophe inserted into “its” is more subtle.
Indeed, the number of errors made by people in regard to this well-known dilemma is probably record-setting. No matter whether you are a native speaker or a learner of English – the odds that you get it right are more or less the same. I’d hazard a guess that people pick it up from each other without thinking, and thus the number of sinner grows. I have to admit that I did it too, just once, in my early days.
So why do people, in my opinion, keep inserting an apostrophe into an “its” when it is a possessive pronoun? The answer is obvious – because possessive and an apostrophe go hand in hand in English as in “my daughter’s birthday”, “people’s beliefs”, or “the readers’ feedback”. These rules in themselves are hard enough to grasp and will make a perfect topic for another article, but once we master them, our brain utterly refuses to accept the fact that possessive pronouns aren’t supposed to have an apostrophe in them. Not just “its” but “theirs” as well, are utterly apostrophe-free!
Now, when is “it’s” supposed to have an apostrophe? Easy – when it is a contraction of “it is” or, more rarely “it has”. English contractions love apostrophes, so let’s remember about it and never deprive them of their simple right – to have a tiny punctuation mark inside. Properly punctuated English is beautiful; let’s keep it so. It’s our friend, after all, and its gratitude to us for respecting its rules will be immense and long-term.