Is it its or it’s?

This causes much confusion, among even some top writers.


This can mean only two things: ‘it is’ and ‘it has’

  • It’s twenty-five to three. It’s been raining.


This can mean only one thing: the neutral possessive – something which indicates belonging to.

  • This boat and its sails are painted red.
  • The computer and its printer need to be moved.

The confusion among English language speakers arises because we assume that we must have an apostrophe when talking of something belonging to someone or something. However, this is not always true.

It is when we use names of things that we add an apostrophe (Sarah’s book).

However, the word ‘its’ falls in the following grammatical group of words:

  • my
  • your
  • his/her/its
  • our
  • your
  • their

As you can see, not one of these words uses an apostrophe, but they are still possessive.


Easy rule: when you see ‘it’s’, say it in full, to check whether it is right.

The computer and it’s screen.

  • check 1: The computer and it is screen. WRONG
  • check 2: The computer and it has screen. WRONG

So, this must be the other spelling/word: The computer and its screen.