Are "in turn" and "in its turn" interchangeable?

I know that sometimes one can only use "in its turn", such as in "the computer moved the knight in its turn". But can one substitute "in turn" for "in its turn" every time? Specifically, are they interchangeable in the following sentences?

Everyone took it in turn to attack my work. (or: ... in their turn to attack ...)
The children called out their names in turn. (or: ... in their turn.)
Increased production will, in turn, lead to increased profits. (or: ... , in its turn, ...)

1 Answer 1


No, I don't believe they are interchangeable. "In turn" suggests the idea of one thing following another where as "In its turn" suggests something more specific, that there are a series of turns.

The shark, in turn, eats the cod.

This sentence is saying that the cod eats something (Likely specified in a previous sentence) and that the shark eats the cod.

The shark, in its turn, eats the cod.

This sentence says that the shark has a turn and during it's turn it ate the cod.

And in the other direction

Jack, in turn, captured Hailey's pawn.


Jack, in his turn, captured Hailey's pawn

The first sentence suggests that Hailey likely captured something of Jacks whereas the second sentence merely says that during his turn Jack captured Hailey's pawn.

Because a sentence containing "in its turn" can probably be rewritten to "During it's turn..." whereas "In turn" can't be. While very similar in wording the two phrases have different meanings that mean you can't substitute them for each other.

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