05 March 2021
This week we answer a question from Ali in Iran. He wrote to us after reading a previous Ask a Teacher about security and safety.
Could you explain the grammar related to the word "its" in this sentence?
Security often has to do with a group's efforts to protect its members from harm.
Thank you for writing to us.
In the sentence you read, the word "its" is a possessive adjective meaning "belonging to it." And the "it" in this sentence is the group.
Other possessive adjectives are words like "his, her, my, your, our and their." These words appear before a noun, like most adjectives in English, and change the meaning of the noun.
Here is another example of how to use "its."
I cannot drive that car. Its tires are flat.
The Queen wears a beautiful crown. Its jewels shine in the sun.
We can use words like "its" to take the place of a noun, as in this example:
I have large eyes and so does my dog. Mine are blue and its are brown.
Its and it's
Many English learners confuse the possessive form "its" with the short form "it's."
The short form "it's" is what we call a contraction. "It's" can be the short form of the words "it is" or "it has."
Here are some examples where "it's" is the short form of "it is."
It's great to see you again!
I think it's time for dinner.
Compare these sentences with "it's" as the short form of "it has."
It's been years since I met with my high school friends.
With daily practice, it's gotten easier for them to speak English.
I hope this helps you understand the different ways we use "its," Ali.
And that's Ask a Teacher.
What question do you have about American English? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm Jill Robbins.
Dr. Jill Robbins wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
contraction – n. a short form of a word or word group that is made by leaving out a sound or letter
Write the word its or it's in the blank for each sentence. For "it's" write whether the contraction is from "it is" or "it has."
- Andy says it's (it is) too cold to walk to the park today.
- The computer is making strange noises. I think ____ fan is broken.
- Angie's cat hurt ____ foot last week...
- ... but ____ almost better now.
- ____ been so long since we had a party.
- I can't wait until ___ safe to do that again.