This is one of the most common mistakes we see in students’ writing – and it’s so easy to get right if you follow this simple rule.
If you’re shortening ‘it is’ or ‘it has’, use it’s.
If you’re not, use its.
That’s all there is to it.
The dog sat on its tail. No apostrophe, as its isn’t short for ‘it is’ or ‘it has’.
It’s been a long day. Apostrophe in it’s as this is short for ‘it has’.
Now put yourself to the test by clicking here.
When your results are emailed, print them off and pop them in to your class files.
When we’re writing quickly, it’s very easy to get sloppy and to not think too carefully about the order in which we pop words on the page.
In the examples below, you’ll see how much of an impact word order can have.
Each sentence contains the same words, but we’ve moved the word ‘only’ each time.
Look at the effect it has on the meaning of each sentence:
Only I went to shop yesterday.
No one else came with you.
I only went to the shop yesterday.
You did nothing else all day.
I went only to the shop yesterday.
You didn’t go anywhere else.
I went to the only shop yesterday.
There are no other shops.
I went to the shop only yesterday.
Your trip is fresh in your mind.
I went to the shop yesterday only.
You didn’t go on any other day.
Food for thought, language lovers!