Monday, June 15, 2015

What's the difference between HIS and HE'S? It's not as simple as you may think...

There is always a confusion with my students concerning HIS and HE'S.  Why?  Because, to ESL speakers ears, they hear and pronounce these words in the same way [HEES].

You can read about the correct pronunciation on my older post about the most difficult vowel sound for ESL speakers.

As I've already explained the pronunciation in a previous post, here we will focus a tiny bit more on pronunciation and then on the grammar.

Pronunciation: HIS vs. HE'S


  • HIS is pronounced with the (I) sound according to the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) (as in it, live, ship, tin, bin, etc...)
  • HE'S is pronounced with the (i:) sound according to the IPA, (as in see, free, tea, leave, etc...)
Again, if you want to learn more about the difference between (I) and (i:), visit my old post clicking on the link above.

Grammar: HIS vs. HE'S


HIS is a possessive adjective (or a possessive determiner):

  • my
  • your
  • his
  • her
  • its
  • our
  • their

We use these possessive adjectives with nouns. 

  • Ex. That is not your book!  That's his book!
  • Ex. His i-Phone is older than my i-Pad. 

HE'S is a contraction.

  • HE'S=HE IS
    • Ex. He's my best friend!
    • Ex. He's my colleague from France who has just joined our team.
    • Ex. He's my puppy, and she's my cat.

I hope this clarifies the confusion between he's and his.  Remember: there are two differences, one is the pronunciation and the other is the grammar.  I hope this helps!

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