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When to Use It's vs. Its or Your vs. You're

Updated on August 29, 2016

Correct Usages of Apostrophes

The word "apostrophe" means "to turn away" in Greek, and originally apostrophes were only used to replace letters in a word that were being omitted.

In modern English, however, apostrophes are used for three main purposes:

• possession: The cat's meow. The man's hat.

plural of non-word items: P's and Q's.

contractions: I wasn't ready to go (apostrophe replacing o in not).

It's versus Its

Misusing it's and its is a common mistake. However, the distinction between the two words is easy to explain.

It's is a contraction for it is or it has: It's hot today. It's got to be ready by now.

Its is a possessive form of it: My gum has lost its flavor.

If you are confused about which to use, do this test: Insert it is or it has into your sentence. If your sentence makes sense, then you need to use the contraction form, it's.

If not, then use the non-contraction form, its.

More Examples of Its

The dog wagged its tail.

(The dog wagged it is tail doesn't make sense.)

The child ate its food.

(The child ate it is food doesn't make sense.)

More Examples of It's

It's time to go to school.

(It is time to go to school.)

It's been a long time since we have seen each other.

(It has been a long time since we have seen each other.

Your vs. You're

Using your when you're is correct is also a common mistake. You're is a contraction for you are. Your is the possessive form of you.

To find out which is correct, just insert you are into your sentence instead of you're or your and see whether it makes sense.

Correct Usage of Your

It is time for your medicine.

(It is time for you are medicine doesn't make sense.)

We will go to your play after we eat.

(We will go to you are play does not make sense.)

Correct Usage of You're

You're going to be the first in line.

(You are going to be the first in line.)

You're my best friend.

(You are my best friend.)

Comments, Thoughts or Questions?

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    • profile image

      Clenne 3 years ago

      There is pertaining to a place and there is pertaining to a group of people

    • profile image

      Mike 6 years ago


      My wife and I have difficulty determining if "I'd" (or "We'd") is short for "I had" or "I would" (or "We had" or "We would"). Thanks.

    • profile image

      JOE 6 years ago

      A friend told me that you can say/write "YOU IS" ... e.g. "you is angry" instead "you are angry"

      is this right?

    • profile image

      Garham 6 years ago

      Thanks for the help!

    • profile image

      Ed 6 years ago

      "It's" Why does it not follow the example of "John's" or "Susan's" as in a posessive sense? The dog ate it's ball.

    • profile image

      goody 6 years ago

      hi! I'm writing this because I really confused about the words there and their?

    • profile image

      Getwood 6 years ago

      Posted to Facebook: You know you from Louisa consider "You know you from Louisa when" is proper grammar. (or, as proper grammar?)

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Hello Confused,

      The correct sentence structure is: Here is a picture of me and Allan at the zoo. If you'd like more clarification, check out my Hub regarding this grammar issue:



    • profile image

      Confused 7 years ago

      Which is the correct way to phrase the following: "Here is a picture of Allan and I at the zoo" or "Here is a picture of me and Allan at the zoo"?

    • profile image

      Dude 7 years ago

      I really enjoyed you are article thank you. My daughter will really benefit by using this neat trick in it has school ;)

    • ~Kimberly Kay~ profile image

      Kimberly Mattfield 7 years ago from Tacoma washington

      I am writing notes for my fellow students in my ABE (Adult Basic Education), class. What I do is go to class take notes, come home and type them out and format them for my classmates. I am pleased to find this article because it's going to be very useful for my notes, and to reference for my fellow students to check out your hub for further help and explanations. Thank you for writing this! I love Hubpages!

    • profile image

      Shar 7 years ago

      Alan- you spelled grammar wrong (=

    • profile image

      guru 7 years ago

      is it it's ok

      or its ok?

    • profile image

      alan 7 years ago

      Thanks for a very insightful hub.

      I actually comnsider myself to be very good with grammer, and emglish is a real passion of mine.

      The its v it's conundrum was strange in that, having never had a problem with it, i suddenly developed a mental block in which i found myself doubting my usage! Does anyone else ever experience that?

      However, onto my question...

      I'm from the UK so always use English English as opposed to American English and as such, often find myself arguing for and against the correct usage or pronunciation of certain words and phrase.

      Some of the words pronounced in US English grate on me, and i'm sure the same applies in reverse (i particularly hate the US pronunciation of words such as "route", but find myself defending it due to the spelling ie. "out").

      Could someone please clarify the US use of the word "math" as opposed to the UK version "maths".

      I always think "math" sounds strange as i would generally consider the full word "mathematics" to be plural eg. applied mathematics.

      I've never heard anyone refer to the full version as "mathematic" (certainly not on my side of the pond).

      Could the US version derive from the word "mathematical"?

    • profile image

      Joseph 9 years ago

      Someone corrected me when I said, " John has eaten a rattlesnake ". They told me it was ate instead of eaten. Is that right?

    • profile image

      MargD 9 years ago

      Alison -- always have done, or did; never have did. Hope this helps.

      Rosie -- other Romance (Latin-based) languages use this form of verb construction: Spanish would say "ha ido" for "has gone."

    • profile image

      alison 9 years ago

      is it correct to use? I have done my work. Have you done your work? or should it be I have did my homework

    • profile image

      Conner  9 years ago

      So i understand the difference between "its" and "it's" but when do you use its'?

      (Ive never done this before)

    • profile image

      Rosie 9 years ago

      Hi Robin,

      So for the past tense "I did" and "I have done", does this distinction exist only in English or in other languages also?


    • profile image

      Christopher 10 years ago

      Thanks Robin, it is clearer at this point. Grammar mishaps was a help.

    • profile image

      Shauna 10 years ago

      I know this is late, but I had to comment. I appreciate your/you coming to the store - which is correct? Actually, it is "your". When using two verbs in English, the second verb may be either an infinitve (to eat) or a gerund (eating) - most of the time. After the verb "appreciate", we should use a gerund. If we want to qualify who is doing the eating, we must use the possessive. Therefore, your is the correct answer. Using you is an informal change that has recently come about because Americans are trying to simplify grammar. However, as English is a "descriptive" language, meaning that there is no formal body that dictates what is correct and incorrect, Americans are making up the rules as they go along. Therefore, the answer is that "your" is correct to the old grammar leaders, but that they don't have any real power. It is actually more of a question of what is prescribed vs. what is real. Eventually, it will prbably change to you, just as gotten is changing to got.

    • relache profile image

      Raye 10 years ago from Seattle, WA

      The site owner of is always pointing out these usages to new editors. It's one of those things that never seems to go away.

    • profile image

      Education Articles 10 years ago

      Don't you just love the English language? It really is a difficult language to grasp properly isn'it it? Your great little hub page has certainly helped me. - Many thanks, Paul

    • profile image

      sweetgem83 10 years ago

      William i believe it's "I appreciate you coming to the store with me."

    • profile image

      William 10 years ago

      Oops! I meant to say, "I appreciate your coming to the store with me" or "I appreciate you coming to the store with me". Which is correct?

    • profile image

      William 10 years ago

      Should one say "I appreciate your coming with me to the store with me" or "I appreciate you coming to the store with me". I think it should be "your", but can't remember!

    • profile image

      Praveen 10 years ago

      Hi Robin,

      Fantastic site! I cleared many of my grammer issues. Thanks much!


    • profile image

      tyroneslothrop 11 years ago

      Is this really grammar? Or is it, rather, spelling conventions? Do we really want to confuse grammar with spelling conventions? A contraction is a phonological process (based on phonological rules). Personally, as a linguist, I cannot hear the difference between /Its/ and /Its/. Though one linguist friend claims that the possessive does not follow the devoicing rule of plurals in English. Thus /dawgs/ dog's and /dawgz/ dogs and /kats/ cat’s /kats/ cats—where the plural morpheme is /z/ and is devoiced through assimilation with the preceding voiceless consonant (though something different happens if it is a sibilant). A rule of English grammar (as that abstract system of language) would then be /z/ --> [s]/ [+voiceless, + consonantal, - sibilant] ____#. When we claim that spelling conventions are rules of grammar, are we not merely perpetuating a false conflation of language and writing?

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 11 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Yizzer,

      You can say, "I have done my homework; I did my homework; or I am done with my homework." It is incorrect to say, "I am done my homework." The same applies with your second sentence. This is the correct usage, "When you're done with dinner...." Hope that helps! ;)

    • profile image

      Yizzer 11 years ago

      My friend consistently uses the word "done" incorrectly. She says "I am done my homework." Or "When you're done dinner..." We have arguments often about whether or not this is proper English. Can you help explain? Thank you.

    • profile image

      Maria 11 years ago

      Hi Robin, thank you very much for this site it helped me a lot in teaching my son who is in 2nd Gr right now,he has a little bit of confusion using THERE, THEY'RE and THEIR. I hope you will post more about GRAMMAR coz i'm learning also and I use your site as my reference because it is easy to understand, we're from another country and not used to speak your language (ENGLISH). Post more.Thank you.

    • profile image

      Robin 11 years ago

      Hi Kassandra,The correct way to say your sentence is, "He has not eaten anything yet today." Eat, Ate, Eaten:  I will eat today.  I ate yesterday.  I have eaten a lot today.  Use the term "eaten" when the word "have" precedes it.  Thanks for the question!

    • profile image

      Kassandra 11 years ago

      Hello! I have a friend who likes to correct my grammer. Is it correct to say, "He has not ate anything yet today." ? I would appreciate the answer! Thanks!

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 11 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks Lauren. I appreciate the catch! Cheers!

    • profile image

      lauren 11 years ago

      Thanks for the "it's" clarification! Very helpful! You missed a "t" in contraction in the last sentence. Spelling/grammer is a learning process and I know this very well! Thanks for the help! Hopefully I didn't spell anything wrong...

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 11 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks smoovstella! I read your hubs on horses and homeschooling. I think you could be a great resources for horse lovers and homeschoolers! Thanks for the comment! Robin

    • smoovstella profile image

      smoovstella 11 years ago

      WOW! What wonderful hubs you have here! I am a former teacher myself. I now homeschool my teenage boys at home and love ever minute of it. I am no English teacher by all means lol (my subjects are Math and Science) but I enjoy your contribution here and find it helpful :) Nice job! I must bookmark you for reference :) Thanks!

    • profile image

      Robin 11 years ago

      Hi Nirosha. I see two main mistakes in your above sentence. First, I believe the statement should be the Western Basin and Plateau regions. Second, you need to specify what is being offered to the tourists. I would rewrite the sentence, "Like the area in and around the Rocky Mountains, the Western Basin and Plateau regions of the United States offer plenty of adventure for tourists."

      As for your second question, you are correct that the statement, "Where are you at?" is incorrect. "At" is a preposition and should never be used at the end of a sentence. Prepositions link nouns, pronouns and phrases to other parts of the sentence. Other examples of prepositions include: on, besides, beneath, around, into, from, during, plus many more. The question should be simply, "Where are you?". Thanks for the questions and comments! I'll be looking for your first hub. You could write it on the SAT when you're finished studying. The best of luck to you!

    • profile image

      Nirosha_7teen 11 years ago

      Nope.I have never written a hub.In fact,I just got introduced to this hub thing.Your hubpage was the first I'd ever visited.Would probably make one in future(they say 'in the future' in American English,don't they?).

      Robin,could you please tell me where the error lies in the following sentence?

      Like the area in and around the Rocky Mountains, the Western Basins and Plateaus region of the United States offer much for the tourist.

      I sure would love to read that book!But, at present I am busy preparing for the SAT.

      One more thing...I've heard many Americans ask,"Where are you at?" I don't know why, but it sounds strange to me.Isn't 'at' redundant?


    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 11 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Nirosha. I love to hear from teens that are aware of grammar! You are correct in your assessment of your sentences. They are both correct. You'd probably like the book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves." It's a hilarious book about grammar and grammatical errors. I have added it to the top of this hub. Have you written any hubs yet? If you have any questions, feel free to email me. Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      Nirosha_7teen 11 years ago

      Hi Robin!!!!

      Just wanted to tell you that your hubpage is awesome.I've read some of the articles you've written here.I love the way you respond to people's comments.Keep it up!

      Something about me;

      My name is Nirosha and I am seventeen years old. I am an Indian.(Should it be 'I am Indian' or is this ok?I guess it's correct either way.In the former sentence, 'indian' was used as a noun while in the latter, as an adjective.What do you say?)

      I love English(especially American English).

      I like spotting grammatical errors.;)I'm sure u do too;)


    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 11 years ago from San Francisco

      I think that the statement should be, "I could've (could have) been a contender." The words "could of", "should of" and "would of" are not correct. Instead we should say, "could have" or "could've", "should have" or "should've", and "would have" or "would've". The use of the words "of" instead of "have" or the contraction "'ve" are often misused. Thanks for the comment!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 11 years ago from San Francisco

      A rarer mistake, but I still see it fairly often, is confusing 've with of, because they sound the same. "I could have been a contender".

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 11 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for the comment StuartJ. You were the one that inspired me on the grammar hubs. I have a few more I'm going to write. I don't think you need a comma before the "too" unless you want to have added emphasis. I agree, small hubs are easier to read and a better bet all around. Cheers!

    • StuartJ profile image

      StuartJ 11 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Hi, you have done it too! (Should I have a comma before the 'too' in that first sentence, or is it ok with short sentences like that?)

      I like the idea of the smallish linked Hubs. I must look at dividing mine up a bit more.


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