We all know that apostrophes make words show ownership.  Except when they don’t.

Red Apostrophe

IT’S or ITS?  We teach our students till we’re blue in the face that it’s is the contraction for it is. But we also teach them that apostrophes are used to make words possessive. So how can convince them that its is the possessive form – sans apostrophe?

Pronouns don’t use apostrophes in their possessive forms. In fact, most don’t even end in s; consider his, her, my, our, your and their.  And, by extension: his, hers, ours, yours, theirs and, of course, its. But you (and your students) don’t have to take our word for it! Check out the word sort below to help students figure out this rule of English for themselves.


Word Sorts are an excellent tool for guiding students in constructing generalizations about language concepts. Read more about Word Sorting Routines for Older Kids.

Here’s a ready-to use word sort for teaching about apostrophes in possessive nouns and pronouns.

Word Sort Possessives from High Interest Publishing
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