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“Your” and “Its”

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  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips
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Personal Pronouns - Watch Out - Your and its

I would be remiss in my duties as an early 21st-century reincarnation of Miss Hamrick if I didn’t pause and talk a bit about serious problems many people have with two words: your and its. Let’s take your first.

Your, Huge Grammatical Mistake

For some reason, many people think that your means you are. Thus, on Internet chat boards, you’ll see grotesque mistakes like this:

Your crazy. Your a moron. Your going to lose big time.

The word your is the second-person possessive pronoun. It must always precede a noun. It is not the combined subject-verb you are. It is not some weird contraction having no apostrophe. If the writer wishes to use a contraction for you are, the correct form is you’re.


You’re crazy. You’re a moron. You’re going to lose big time.

You’ll find more about this problem in the eBook Common Grammatical Mistakes.

Its, Huge Grammatical Mistake

Even more people have trouble with its. Singular nouns form their possessives with an “apostrophe ‑s.” Plural nouns ending in ‑s form their possessives by adding just an apostrophe.

But: Not a single personal pronoun forms its possessive with an apostrophe (some indefinite pronouns do, however, e.g., other’s).

Instead, for the third-person, singular, neuter pronoun it, we simply add ‑s to form the possessive.

The possessive of it is its.

The committee reached its decision. The novel finally revealed its plot.

The word it’s is a contraction of it is.

It’s a shame he couldn’t join us. It’s raining outside.

You’ll find a more detailed discussion of this problem in the eBook Common Grammatical Mistakes.

In sum, neither your nor its can possibly act as a subject and verb. Both are possessive pronouns. By the same token it’s cannot act as the possessive form of it. Instead the term it’s does act as a subject-verb, for it serves as a contraction for the subject-verb pair it is.


Previous: Table of Personal Pronouns

Next: Antecedents - Placement of Pronouns

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