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Is it it's or its? Learn the basics about apostrophes here!
We use an apostrophe ( ' ) to indicate possession (e.g. Spot’s spots), or to substitute for one or more letters in a contraction (e.g. don’t, they’re).

What is a contraction?

Contractions are words that are created by combining two other words - we add an apostrophe to stand in for the letters we take out.
  • they're (they are)
  • don't (do not)
  • didn't (did not)
  • can't (can not)
  • shouldn't (should not)
  • couldn't (could not)
  • wouldn't (would not)
  • he's (he has or he is)
  • she's (she has or she is)
  • I'll (I will)
  • you'll (you will)
  • he'll (he will)
  • she'll (she will)
  • we'll (we will)
  • they'll (they will)
  • let's (let us)
  • won't (will not)
and a fun one:
  • fo'c's'le (forecastle – the room where the crew is housed in front of the mast of a sailing ship)
Note: When writing an expository essay for school, avoid using contractions. They create an informal style that is inappropriate for an academic setting.

Possessive Pronouns

The Rule: Possessive pronouns never use apostrophes!
Wrong: your's, her's, our's, their's
Right: yours, hers, ours, theirs, its

The Trouble with Its

Its is a possessive pronoun – think of it just as you think of yours, ours, hers and theirs - none of these have apostrophes - ever!
It's is a contraction for "it is"

Singular Possessive

The Rule: to make a singular noun possessive, add an apostrophe and an s ( 's )
  • sister's smartphone
  • cat's collar
  • Justin's moves
  • nurse's uniform
  • horse's hooves

Plural Possessive

The Rule: to make most plural nouns possessive, just add an apostrophe ( ' )
  • my friends' playlists (for more than one friend)
  • the dogs' barking (for more than one dog)
  • The Beatles' third album
  • the nurses' uniforms (for more than one nurse)
  • horses' hooves (for more than one horse)

Plural Possessive: The Tricky Ones

The Rule: When the plural noun you want to make possessive doesn't already end with an s, then just add an apostrophe and an s ( 's )
  • children's toys
  • women's clothing
  • men's room
  • mice's whiskers
  • dice's spots

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