His vs. He's

"His" and "He's" have somewhat similar pronunciations, but different meanings or spelling. So what is their difference?

"His" vs. "He's" in the English Grammar

Why the Confusion?

'His' and 'He's' have similar pronunciation:
His /hɪz/
He's /hiːz/
However, they have totally different spellings and meanings.

Main Similarity and Difference

"His" and "He's" sound similar, but one of them is a short form and the other is a possessive determiner and pronoun.

His

'His' is the possessive form of 'he' and it shows something belonging to a male person (i.e. a man or boy). 'His' can either be a possessive determiner or a possessive pronoun.

Brian loves his girlfriend. He wants to marry her.

Here, 'his' is followed by another noun 'girlfriend'. Therefore, it is a determiner.

His was a bold choice. Not many people have that kind of courage.

Here, 'his' stands alone. Therefore, it is a possessive pronoun.

He's

"He's" is a short form of subject pronoun 'he' and the third person forms of the verb 'be' and 'have':

  • He's → He is
  • He's → He has

He's my brother, Alex. → He is my brother, Alex.

He's the nicest family. You'd love them. → He has the nicest family. You'd love them.

He's = He was?

Although you might hear someone use the contracted form of 'was' in spoken language, but you should know that it is not grammatically correct. Unless there are obvious signs that the sentence is in the past tense, avoid using 's' as a contracted form of 'was'.

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