Easily Confused Words: Its vs. It’s

Its and It’s are easily confused words. In the world of easily confused words, its and it’s have to be in the top five of most confused of all time. Their, they’re and there are also in the Top Five.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of its and it’s. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect.

Spell-check doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It suggests what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions couldn’t be more off base and produces humorous results.

Its indicates an object belonging to someone or something.

It’s is a contraction formed by “It is.” These words indicate something is performing an action.

What’s a simple way to avoid an “it’s/its” mistake? Proofread your draft and everywhere it says “its/it’s”, say “it is” instead. If “it is” sounds right, make sure there’s an apostrophe between the t and s. If saying “it is” sounds wrong and inappropriate, make sure there’s no apostrophe or spacing; this is situation for a possessive “its.” Maybe you noticed above, I highlighted all the possessive “its” so they were more noticeable.

The following story uses both words correctly:

As a veterinary assistant, Itotia cares for exotic baby animals at the zoo. She gives each animal its food and any required medication several times a day, and monitors each one to confirm it’s alive and feeling well.

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