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its

[ its ]
/ ɪts /
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pronoun
the possessive form of it1 (used as an attributive adjective): The book has lost its jacket. I'm sorry about its being so late.
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Origin of its

1590–1600; earlier it's, equivalent to it1 + 's2

words often confused with its

A very common mistake is to write its (the possessive form of it ) when it's (the short form of it is or it has ) is required: It's [it is] unclear what he meant. It's [it has] been wonderful seeing you again. But do not use it's for it has when has is the main verb: It has a strong flavor; use it sparingly cannot be written as It's a strong flavor… An equally common mistake is to use it's for the possessive, probably because ordinary possessives of nouns are formed with an apostrophe: the dog's coat; Mary's cell phone. But the possessive its is a pronoun, not a noun, and, like other possessive pronouns ( his, hers, yours, and theirs ), is written without that particular bit of punctuation: I have to fix my bike. Its front wheel came off.

usage note for its

While it is possible to use its as a predicate adjective ( The cat is angry because the bowl you're eating out of is its! ) or as a pronoun meaning “that or those belonging to it” ( Your notebook pages are torn. Borrow my notebook—its aren't ), such use is rare and in most circumstances strained. See also me.

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH its

it's, its (see confusables note at the current entry)

Other definitions for its (2 of 2)

it's
[ its ]
/ ɪts /

contraction of it is:It's starting to rain.
contraction of it has: It's been a long time.

usage note for it's

words often confused with it's

See its.

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH it's

it's , its (see confusables note at its)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use its in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for its (1 of 2)

its
/ (ɪts) /

determiner
  1. of, belonging to, or associated in some way with itits left rear wheel
  2. (as pronoun)each town claims its is the best

British Dictionary definitions for its (2 of 2)

it's
/ (ɪts) /

contraction of
it is or it has

usage for it's

One of the commonest mistakes made in written English is the confusion of its and it's . You can see examples of this every day in books, magazines, and newspapers: its good for us; a smart case with it's own mirror, and even Cheng, and its' subsidiaries . Its refers to something belonging to or relating to a thing that has already been mentioned: the baby threw its rattle out of the pram . It's is a shortened way of saying it is or it has (the apostrophe indicates that a letter has been omitted: it's a lovely day; it's been a great weekend .
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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