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 pronunciations (/hɪz/ and /hiːz/), but are different in their meaning and usage.

Main Similarity and Difference

'His' and 'He's' are pronounced similarly. Furthermore, they are both third-person and they are both masculine. However, one of them is a contraction and the other is a possessive determiner and possessive pronoun.

His

'His' is the possessive form of 'he' which is used to indicate that something belongs to a male person or animal. 'His' can either be a possessive determiner or a possessive pronoun. For example:

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 contraction of 'he is' or 'he has'. It is used to combine the subject pronoun 'he' with the auxiliary verb 'be' or 'have' to form a verb phrase.

  • He's → He is
  • He's → He has

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

He's been very busy lately. → He has been very busy lately.

He's = He was?

Although you might hear someone use the contracted form of 'was' in spoken language, 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 the contracted form of 'was'.

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