8

I have noticed that in some cases people write it is while in others it's. And in some cases you just cannot write it's.

  • Is that your book over there? Maybe it is.

  • It's a beautiful flower. Yes, it is, indeed.

In both these examples you can't write it's because it will sound strange. It may not only concern it is.

Is there a rule for this?

3

Contractions can be used in any position in a sentence; however, homophone contractions such as "it's" and "they're" sound better when followed by another word or phrase. The reason is that the sounds of "its" and "it's" and "they're" and "they are" are so similar that they can be confusing unless they are used with the context of an additional word. For example:

Incorrect: "It is what it's."

Correct: "It is what it is looking like."

Correct: "It is what it is."

Source: End of sentence contractions.

Also, you might want to check the answers to a similar question posted on EL&U.

Grammar Girl has an interesting write-up on this topic. This paragraph seems particularly important.

The Cambridge Grammar notes that in addition to being available whenever a speaker wants to stress a word for emphasis, the strong form of a word is required in a handful of specific grammatical situations. In particular, it states that prepositions are stressed when they are the last element in a prepositional phrase, and auxiliary verbs when they are the last element in a verb phrase. For example, the preposition “to” has a weak form that sounds like “tuh.” It’s OK to use the weak form in a phrase like “We went to [“tuh”] the movies,” but not in a question like “Fenster is the person you should talk to.” It just sounds funny to say “Fenster is the person you should talk tuh.” For examples with auxiliary verbs, we have “I’m smarter than you are,” and “the one where I am,” with the strong forms “are” and “am.” 

  • 4
    I'm afraid that stuff about "homophone contractions" is complete nonsense. But Grammar Girls' analysis is spot on. – TonyK Dec 6 '16 at 16:28
  • "It is what it is looking like"? - No. "It's what it looks like" is correct, (but useless as an example.) – peterG Dec 6 '16 at 16:35
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    As TonyK said, the first quote is nonsense. There is no special class of "homophone contractions" that behave differently. Contractions like "he's" and "she's", which are not homophonous to anything, can't be used at the end of a sentence either: "He is who he's" is just as incorrect as "It is what it's". Furthermore, confusion between "its" and "it's" would be unlikely in this context since the possessive pronoun "its" rarely occurs at the end of a sentence. – sumelic Dec 6 '16 at 20:24
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The contraction of "is" in "it's" can only occur if the "is" is relatively unstressed, which cannot be the case when it is final in a sentence or clause. Consequently, contractions like "it's" and "I'm" never occur at the end - they are always expanded, so that some stress can go on the verb "is" or "am".

This is very noticeable when a lyricist deliberately breaks the rule for comic or dramatic effect, as in the Gershwin song Bidin' my Time:

I'm bidin' my time,

'Cause that's the kinda guy I'm.

  • Huh, that's amazing. It sounds wonderful! – SovereignSun Dec 6 '16 at 12:58
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First of all, for those reading this answer who may not know the difference, let's talk about the difference between it's and its.

It's and its are two of the most commonly confused words in the English language. However, understanding the difference between these two words is crucial for successful communication.

It's is a contraction for it is or it has. For example:

  • I think it's going to snow on Monday. It's been a long time since I last saw Ben.
  • It's a small world after all.

Its is a possessive pronoun. Its modifies a noun and is used to show ownership. For example:

  • The bear carried its cub in its mouth.
  • Nothing can take its place.
  • The cat licked with its tongue.

To determine if you should use it's or its in your sentence, simply try replacing the word with it is or it has. If the sentence makes sense, it's is appropriate. If not, use its. For example:

  • "Nothing can take it is place" makes no sense. Therefore, the correct word to use is its.
  • "It is raining outside" is a perfectly acceptable sentence. Therefore, you may use it's if you wish.

Now for the answer to your question there are a few reasons why you would use it is instead of it's.

Contractions can be used in any position in a sentence; however, homophone contractions such as "it's" and "they're" sound better when followed by another word or phrase. Therefore, contractions should not be used at the end of a sentence.

The reason is that the sounds of "its" and "it's" and "they're" and "they are" are so similar that they can be confusing unless they are used with the context of an additional word. For example:

  • Incorrect: "It is what it's."
  • Correct: "It is what it is looking like."
  • Correct: "It is what it is."
  • Incorrect: "You said they didn't want to go, well, they're."
  • Correct: ""You said they didn't want to go, well, they're going."
  • Correct: "You said they didn't want to go, well, they are."

[M]any experts also caution against the use of contractions in formal communication. Since contractions tend to add a light and informal tone to your writing, they are often inappropriate for academic research papers, business presentations, and other types of official correspondence. However, this rule does have some flexibility.

In general, it's best to use your own judgment when deciding if contractions are appropriate for a particular piece.

Another reason is indicated in the comments. If you need to emphasise the word is then you need to use it is. However, in written text you would add emphasis to the is by using italics.

(Source for quotes: http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/using-contractions.html)

  • That's almost 90% what Aishwarya answered but still thanks. – SovereignSun Dec 6 '16 at 10:27
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    I'm afraid that stuff about "homophone contractions" is complete nonsense. Everything that applies to it's and they're also applies, for instance, to they've and I'm, which are not homophones of anything. – TonyK Dec 6 '16 at 16:30

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