[ its ]
/ ɪts /
the possessive form of it1 (used as an attributive adjective): The book has lost its jacket. I'm sorry about its being so late.
Words nearby its
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH itsit's its
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.
Definition for its (2 of 4)
[ it ]
/ ɪt /
pronoun, nominative it, possessive its or (Obsolete or Dialect) it, objective it; plural nominative they, possessive their or theirs, objective them.
(used to represent an inanimate thing understood, previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the immediate context): It has whitewall tires and red upholstery. You can't tell a book by its cover.
(used to represent a person or animal understood, previously mentioned, or about to be mentioned whose gender is unknown or disregarded): It was the largest ever caught off the Florida coast. Who was it? It was John. The horse had its saddle on.
(used to represent a group understood or previously mentioned): The judge told the jury it must decide two issues.
(used to represent a concept or abstract idea understood or previously stated): It all started with Adam and Eve. He has been taught to believe it all his life.
(used to represent an action or activity understood, previously mentioned, or about to be mentioned): Since you don't like it, you don't have to go skiing.
(used as the impersonal subject of the verb to be, especially to refer to time, distance, or the weather): It is six o'clock. It is five miles to town. It was foggy.
(used in statements expressing an action, condition, fact, circumstance, or situation without reference to an agent): If it weren't for Edna, I wouldn't go.
(used in referring to something as the origin or cause of pain, pleasure, etc.): Where does it hurt? It looks bad for the candidate.
(used in referring to a source not specifically named or described): It is said that love is blind.
(used in referring to the general state of affairs; circumstances, fate, or life in general): How's it going with you?
(used as an anticipatory subject or object to make a sentence more eloquent or suspenseful or to shift emphasis): It is necessary that you do your duty. It was a gun that he was carrying.
Informal. (used instead of the pronoun its before a gerund): It having rained for only one hour didn't help the crops.
(in children's games) the player called upon to perform some task, as, in tag, the one who must catch the other players.
- sex appeal.
- sexual intercourse.
Origin of it1
before 900; Middle English, variant of Middle English, Old English hit, neuter of he1
usage note for it
Definition for its (3 of 4)
[ it ]
/ ɪt /
noun British Informal.
sweet vermouth: gin and it.
Origin of it2
1930–35; It(alian vermouth)
Definition for its (4 of 4)
[ 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
British Dictionary definitions for its (1 of 5)
/ (ɪts) /
- of, belonging to, or associated in some way with itits left rear wheel
- (as pronoun)each town claims its is the best
British Dictionary definitions for its (2 of 5)
British Dictionary definitions for its (3 of 5)
/ (ɪts) /
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 .
British Dictionary definitions for its (4 of 5)
/ (ɪt) /
pronoun (subjective or objective)
refers to a nonhuman, animal, plant, or inanimate thing, or sometimes to a small babyit looks dangerous; give it a bone
refers to an unspecified or implied antecedent or to a previous or understood clause, phrase, etcit is impossible; I knew it
used to represent human life or experience either in totality or in respect of the present situationhow's it going?; I've had it; to brazen it out
used as a formal subject (or object), referring to a following clause, phrase, or wordit helps to know the truth; I consider it dangerous to go on
used in the nominative as the formal grammatical subject of impersonal verbs. When it functions absolutely in such sentences, not referring to any previous or following clause or phrase, the context is nearly always a description of the environment or of some physical sensationit is raining; it hurts
(used as complement with be) informal the crucial or ultimate pointthe steering failed and I thought that was it
(in children's games) the player whose turn it is to try to touch anotherCompare he 1 (def. 5b)
- sexual intercourse
- sex appeal
informal a desirable quality or abilityhe's really got it
Word Origin for it
Old English hit
British Dictionary definitions for its (5 of 5)
the internet domain name for
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
Idioms and Phrases with its
In addition to the idioms beginning with it
- it figures
- it never rains but it pours
- it stands to reason
- it takes all sorts
- it takes getting used to
- it takes one to know one
- it takes two to tango
- that does it
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.