Grammar made sexy: It's v. Its

We all want to be good grammarians, because we’re sensitive writers; we like to please. But if we’re going to drive our readers wild, we need to learn how to use what we’ve got.

Let’s talk about what it is.

It’s: A contraction, short for “it is” or “it has”

Its: A pronominal possessive that tells us what belongs to “it.”

Example: It’s a useful condom that comes with its own lube.

Non-example: Its a useful condom that comes with it's own lube.

Now let’s talk about the difference.

Example undressed: It is a useful condom that comes with its own lube.

Non-example undressed: The condom that belongs to it a useful one that comes with it is own lube. (or) The condom that belongs to it a useful one that comes with it has own lube.

This is when I moan in anguish rather than pleasure. And look: I’m not trying to ridicule. I know you’re new to this. You need to be told what to do; you need to be shown. You need me to be gentle. So let me explain.


The apostrophe is a tricky mistress. Sometimes it wants to be used, and sometimes it doesn’t. In most cases, we can use it to show possession by tacking it onto the end of a word like this:

Sarah’s apple bottom looks so damn fine in those jeans.

But when we’re using a pronominal possessive, we can’t do that. A pronominal possessive is something that stands in for a noun (pronominal = pronoun) and shows ownership (possessive). Pronominal possessives include its, hers, ours, yours and theirs. Let’s do this together. Put the its/it’s where I want them:

Example: ____ hard to bend that way.

Non-example: ____ hard to bend that way.

Example undressed: It is hard to bend that way.

Non-example undressed: The thing belonging to it hard to bend that way.

You’re really good at that.

Using proper grammar is like having sex with someone you love. To get the desired effect—and really make your readers squeal—you have to place the right words in the right places, finesse your commas in between the right clauses, and then interrobang the shit out of your sentences when you’re ready to climax.

A bad grammarian is like a bad lover. For me, reading a poorly punctuated or ungrammatical story is like taking my clothes off and being touched the wrong way. I want so badly to be moved, to be rocked from the inside out, only to be slapped in the face by a dangling modifier or bored to sleep by a run-on sentence.

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