I am often corrected on StackExchange for writing it's instead of its

Few minutes ago :
I start a game by it's shortcut ==> I start a game by its shortcut

I am (quite) sure that when I was young, I've only learned it's and I never seen its anywhere then (But it was 35 years ago...).

What are the rules for using it's or its ?

  • The 'apostrophe s' for the possessive is not used with it so as to distinguish it from it's as an abbreviation for it is. I was taught this at school 50 years ago and it is still true! – Kate Bunting Jan 5 at 13:48

You're not alone, half the English-speaking world seems to muck up this trivially simple rule.

"it's" is a contraction of "it is".

"its" is the possessive form of "it".

I'm sure this question must have been asked before.

  • What is that animal? It's a dog. What is it doing? The dog is lying on its blanket. – Michael Harvey Jan 5 at 10:14
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    @MichaelHarvey "It's lying on its blanket", even. – Prime Mover Jan 5 at 10:17
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    "It's" can also be a contraction of "it has". – rjpond Jan 5 at 10:18
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    @rjpond "It's true that it's been lying on its blanket." – Prime Mover Jan 5 at 10:33

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