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When to Use It's vs. Its or Your vs. You're
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.)
Other Tricky Homonyms: There, Their, and They're
- There, Their and They're: Grammar Guide
What is the difference between there, their and they're? This Hub gives definitions and correct usage examples for these commonly confused words.