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Part II: Some Basics of Style > Exercise #4—The Apostrophe

Chapter 7. Exercise #4—The Apostrophe

Test your knowledge of the proper use of apostrophes by circling errors in the sentences below. The apostrophe (’) is used to show possession or ownership, or to mark an omission. Correctly punctuated sentences and the rules that apply are found on the next page.

1: The office managers new rule was unpopular with the secretaries.
A: The office manager’s new rule was unpopular with the secretaries.

Rule: All singular nouns use apostrophe and s to show possession or ownership.

2: The secretarys chair was adjusted by the manager’s assistant.
A: The secretary’s chair was adjusted by the manager’s assistant.

Rule: Same as above.

3: Charles cap was the same color as his boss’s face.
A: Charles’s cap was the same color as his boss’s face.

Rule: ALL singular nouns, including those ending in s like Charles and boss, use apostrophe and s to show possession or ownership.

4: The managers smiled when they read the salesmens’ reports.
A: The managers smiled when they read the salesmen’s reports.

Rule: Plural nouns that do not end in s use apostrophe and s to show possession or ownership.

5: Both speaker’s comments were greeted with applause.
A: Both speakers’ comments were greeted with applause.

Rule: Plural nouns that end in s (most plurals do) take only an apostrophe to show possession or ownership.

6: Anyones guess is as good as mine.
A: Anyone’s guess is as good as mine.

Rule: Indefinite pronouns (one, anyone, everyone, someone, anybody, everybody, nobody, another) show possession just like singular nouns: by adding apostrophe and s.

7: Their report was more optimistic than our’s.
A: Their report was more optimistic than ours.

Rule: Personal pronouns (hers, his, its, ours, yours, theirs) do not take an apostrophe to show possession.

8: It doesn’t matter; its not our concern.
A: It doesn’t matter; it’s not our concern.

Rule: Contractions require apostrophes to show omitted letters. BE SURE TO NOTE THE PLACEMENT OF THE APOSTROPHE.

9: The accountant’s will meet with the manager’s on Friday.
A: The accountants will meet with the managers on Friday.

Rule: Do not use an apostrophe to indicate a plural noun. DO NOT CONFUSE POSSESSIVES AND PLURALS.

10: She often forgets to dot her is.
A: She often forgets to dot her i’s.

Rule: Do not use an apostrophe to indicate a plural noun unless it would be confusing without one.




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