Editing Your Writing: Its or It’s?

Confused about when to write its and when to write it’s? You are not alone! Here is a way to think about the difference.

ITS (no apostrophe) is possessive. Use it when you mean: something belonging to it.

I’m looking at the cool orange cover of Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems. I’m looking at its cool orange cover. No apostrophe. The cool orange cover belongs to it (in this case, a book).

IT’S (with apostrophe) means IT IS. Here, the apostrophe signals that a letter has been dropped, and two words have been squished together. It is: an apostrophe has taken the place of the letter i in the word is, and it and is have been brought together with the apostrophe.

I recommend reading Lunch Poems. It’s something I recommend. It is.