Dear Gaila - it's or its?

Dear Gaila,

How do you teach students when to write “it’s” vs. “its”?


Dear Jerry,

When I first teach my students about apostrophes I tell them that "an apostrophe appears when a letter has been popped out".

The case of it's and its is a spelling difference. My students need to think about what are they saying:

Are you saying "It is a baby" or "The puppy loved its baby"?

If it's the former, a letter – i – has been popped out and we need an apostrophe. Otherwise skip the apostrophe!


Gaila has over 40 year of experience teaching and runs A.H.A.V.A., a non-profit to promote English literacy. Would you like to ask Gaila a question? Email us at or send us a message. Look out for more Dear Gaila columns

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