Podcast #71 Using the Contraction It’s (It is)

Published in the category Contractions, Grammar and Usage

Today we are going to practice sentences and clauses beginning with It’s, which is the contraction of It is and is spelled i-t-apostrophe-s.  Note that It’s can also be a contraction for It has as in It’s cost me a lot of money. It has cost me a lot of money. But in this lesson we will only work with It’s as a contraction of It is.

There are a couple of reasons why the contraction It’s or the uncontracted form It is are very important  to use correctly.  First of all, these structures occur with a very high frequency. A Google search for it’s and it is results in over 8 billion hits…that’s billion with a b.

A second reason that these forms are important for many learners of English is that a similar structure with a word for it does not exist in many languages and speakers of those languages often  leave out the word it when it really has to be there. Such a person might say  Is a very nice day instead of It’s a very nice day or Is starting to rain instead of It’s starting to rain.

Now, sometimes the pronoun it in it’s is a substitute for an identifiable noun. For example, I see your key. It’s on the table . The pronoun it substitutes for the noun keyI see your key. It’s on the table . This has the same meaning as I see your key. The key is on the table .

Very often, however, the pronoun it doesn’t substitute for anything. Listen to this sentence. It’s going to be cold today. Again, It’s going to be cold today. In this sentence the word it does not take the place of a noun. In this usage, it is called an impersonal pronoun and it really has no meaning of its own. The verb is needs a subject, and the impersonal pronoun it serves that purpose, even though it does not add any meaning to the sentence.

Here is an easy rule that will help you decide when you have to start a sentence with It’s. The rule is: You cannot start a sentence with Is unless it is a question like Is he a good student? or Is the president speaking tonight? Anytime you are tempted to start a sentence with Is and the sentence is not a question, use the structure  It’s and you will be correct 99% of the time.

The car?  It’s in the garage.

The test? It’s tomorrow at 3 o’clock.

The weather report? It’s on page 7.

My watch? It’s being repaired.

My novel? It’s almost finished.

The library? It’s closed today.

The train? It’s never on time.

The computer?  It’s not working properly.

Happiness? It’s not easy to find.

The economic situation?  It’s starting to get better.

It’s time to go.

It’s a long ride to Chicago.

It’s not my fault.

It’s a boy!

It’s cool in the evenings.

It’s airless in this room.

It’s scary out there.

It’s beautiful here in the summer.

It’s great to see you again.

It’s great seeing you again.

It’s dangerous to hike in the dark.

It’s dangerous hiking in the dark.

It’s marvelous to be here with all my friends.

It’s marvelous being here with all my friends.

It’s silly to worry about every little thing.

It’s silly worrying about every little thing.

It’s inefficient to work too many hours a day.

It’s inefficient working too many hours a day.

It’s difficult to find work these days.

It’s difficult finding work these days.

It’s starting to snow.

It’s going to be an exciting game.

It’s getting more violent in the streets.

It’s taking too long to do this.

Sometimes it’s hard to sit quietly.

Often it’s better to say nothing.

On weekends it’s very busy around here.

Unfortunately it’s too late submit an application.

Clearly it’s not your fault.

Frankly it’s nothing I care to discuss.

I heard that it’s your birthday today.

Can you tell me if it’s 5 o’clock yet?

She doesn’t think it’s going to rain.

The dentist promised it’s not going to hurt.

I can’t believe it’s already June!

Tell me when it’s time to leave.

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The ESL Aloud podcast lessons are designed for people who want to increase their abilities in speaking English as a second language (ESL).