When I was young, the possessive form of the word, it, required an apostrophe preceded by an S. An example our teacher used, which I've always remembered, was: "It's my work but I am its' property, rather than the reverse, by virtue of how essential the work has become."

Over several years, however, I've seen the trailing apostrophe almost totally removed from usage. When and why did that rule change?

  • 6
    If this is in fact what you were taught, you were mistaught. Possessive its has never been spelled its', and the occasional variant spelling it's was ceded to the contraction by the 18th century. Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 12:30
  • Do you also want to use his', hers', and their's ??
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 14:36
  • Why not? It at least makes sense. Fads in teaching the deployment of inaudible and randomly distributed punctuation come and go. If a teacher decided that it ought to be rationalized, well, that's what teachers are for, isn't it? Nothing unusual here. @Mark, it does seem to be nonstandard, but if you've got this far in life without its' affecting you, you might as well go right ahead and continue. After all, it's your language. Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 16:11


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