It’s or Its, Who’s or Whose

It’s or Its, Who’s or Whose

There is a wonderful quote by British playwright Shelagh Delaney making the rounds on the Internet and Twitter recently. “Nothing passes. Everything stays with you. Everything makes it’s (sic) mark.”

But horrors! This wonderful quote also includes a glaring misuse of the maligned possessive and apostrophe. I rather doubt Shelagh Delaney used the word, “it’s,” in the original quote. “It’s” means “it is,” which doesn’t make a lot of sense in the quote.

Generally, an apostrophe indicates that a word is possessive — it shows ownership. However, it can also indicate that a letter is missing, as in contractions. The confusion with “its” and “whose” stems from the fact that apostrophe indicates that a letter has been left out, not that the word indicates possession.

Here’s an easy way to determine which form of these words to use. If you can replace “it’s” with “it is,” use the apostrophe. If you can replace “who’s” with who is, use the apostrophe. Otherwise, use the possessive version, its and whose.

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