See also: ITS, it's, its', and 'its

English edit

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Alternative forms edit

  • it's (possessive form, now nonstandard)

Etymology edit

Equivalent to it +‎ -s. From the earlier form it's (it +‎ -'s), which is now considered nonstandard. Began to displace his as the possessive of the neuter pronoun in the Middle English period; had fully displaced it by the 1700s.[1]

Pronunciation edit

Determiner edit


  1. Belonging to it. [from 16th c.]
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 43, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes [], book I, London: [] Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount [], →OCLC:
      The manner wherewith our Lawes assay to moderate the foolish and vaine expences of table-cheare and apparell, seemeth contrarie to it's end.
    • 1751, G. Burnett, translated by Thomas More, Utopia:
      since I have been at the Pains to write it, if he consents to it's being published I will follow my Friend's Advice, and chiefly yours.
    • 1763, Authorized King James Version of the Bible, Oxford Standard Text, Leviticus 25:5:
      That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land. (originally "of it own accord" in the 1611 first edition)
    • 1813, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice:
      They descended the hill, crossed the bridge, and drove to the door; and, while examining the nearer aspect of the house, all her apprehensions of meeting its owner returned.
    • 1989 June 5, Jasper Becker, John Gittings, The Guardian:
      The Chinese government is at war with its own people.

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Contraction edit


  1. Misspelling of it's.

Pronoun edit


  1. The one (or ones) belonging to it. [from 17th c.]
    • 1645, Philip Wharton, 4th Baron Wharton, Letter to Ferdinando Fairfax, 6 February 1645:
      [...] both Houses have resolved to rob the North of a good friend of its and yours.
    • 2007 October 1, Ian Austen, “Canadian Court Opens Up eBay Data to Tax Agency”, in New York Times:
      EBay Canada argued in court that the data sought by tax collectors was not its to give.
    • 1917, Charles Henry Taylor, History of the Board of Trade of the City of Chicago[1], volume 2, page 1259:
      ...the Board of Trade of Chicago can at least feel that it has played its part manfully and patriotically, and that no act of its has stood in the way of National victory.

Usage notes edit

  • In practice, its is commonly used as a determiner before a noun, but its use as a solo pronoun is generally avoided.
  • Its is now distinguished from it's (a contraction of "it is" or "it has"). For example, It's going to rain is equivalent to It is going to rain, and It's been raining for hours is equivalent to It has been raining for hours. However, the two are commonly confused, and using its where there should be it's (or vice versa) is a common mistake in written English.
  • Like it, its is usually avoided when referring to humans. Its is commonly used with animals when the gender is unknown or unimportant. With humans, person is used for a person whose gender is unknown or to refer to something that could be possessed by either gender, body or corpse is often used to refer to a dead person, and figure, shape, and silhouette are often used to refer to what someone sees as a person but can't see clearly enough to determine an identity or gender, e.g. The figure moved behind a bush, but Josh could see its shadow from the moonlight.

Quotations edit

Translations edit

Noun edit


  1. plural of it

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024), “its”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.

Anagrams edit

Kalasha edit

Noun edit


  1. Alternative spelling of ič̣