Apostrophe Usage Practice Questions

1. Hurry; it’s time to go!
A. its
B. its’
C. it
D. No error

2. This is the Marcus’ house.
A. Marcus’s
B. Marcuses
C. Marcuses’
D. No error

3. The house was burned right down to it’s foundation.
A. it
B. its
C. its’
D. No error

4. She confirmed that the handbag was her’s.
A. hers
B. hers’s
C. his
D. No error

5. Yes, your right!
A. you’re
B. youre
C. you
D. No error

6. Who’s hat is this?
A. Whos’
B. Whose
C. Who’se
D. No error

7. She dots her i’s with little hearts.
A. is
B. Is
C. I’s
D. No error

8. I have not seen those people since the 1990’s.
A. 19’90’s
B. 19’90s
C. 1990s
D. No error

9. The ‘70s was a decade with some great music.
A. 70s
B. 70’s
C. ‘70’s
D. No error

10. We visited Dennis’ and Pam’s new house. It is closer to Dennis and Pam’s jobs.
A. Dennis and Pam’s; Dennis’s and Pam’s
B. Dennis’s and Pam’s; Dennis’s and Pam’s
C. Dennis’s and Pam; Dennis’s and Pam’s
D. No error

Answers – Apostrophe Usage

1. D: “It’s” is correct here as a contraction of “it is.” “Its” would be a possessive impersonal pronoun rather than a pronoun-verb contraction. Its’ is not a valid construction. “It” by itself is not correct without the verb (“is” or “ ’s”).

2. C: Because of the word “the” followed by a surname, it is understood that “Marcus” refers to a family, not an individual. Therefore, “Marcus” is pluralized as “Marcuses,” and the possessive form is made by adding an apostrophe at the end. Where there is a plural –s ending, an additional “s” after the apostrophe is not used (e.g. “the Browns’ house”). Note: When a name itself ends with an “s” but is not plural, the possessive form can be either “s’” or “s’s” (e.g. “This is Chris’ house,” or “This is Chris’s house”). Both are correct, although “s’s” is preferred. “Marcus’s” would be a singular possessive, not a plural. “Marcuses” is plural but not possessive.

3. B: The correct possessive form for the impersonal pronoun “it” is “its” with no apostrophe. “It’s” is only used as a contraction of “it is.” “It” by itself is not possessive. “Its’” is an invalid construction.

4. A: The correct possessive form for the pronoun “her” is “hers” with no apostrophe. “His” would be the correct possessive form of the pronoun “he,” but the subject of this sentence is “she.” “Her’s” is incorrect, and is not an actual word.

5. A: “You’re” is a contraction of “you are,” and is the correct answer here. There is no such word as “youre” without the apostrophe. “You” is the subject, but without “are” or “‘re” added, there would be no verb, and the phrase would therefore not be a sentence.

6. B: “Whose” is the correct possessive form of the pronoun “who.” “Who’s” is incorrect. The “‘s” is used for possession with other nouns (e.g. “Jeff’s hat”), but “whose” is a possessive pronoun. Possessive pronouns already show possession, and no apostrophe is needed. “Whos’” is not a valid construction except if referring to the Who family in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas with a plural possessive (e.g. “The Grinch came to the Whos’ house”). “Who’se” is incorrect, and is not an actual word.

7. D: In addition to indicating possessives and contractions, apostrophes are used to clarify meaning if printed or written words would be unclear without them. Without the apostrophe, “is” looks like the present tense singular form of the verb “to be” (i.e. “is”). “Is” also looks like the verb, this time in its capitalized form. The rule is not to add apostrophes to capital letters used as plural nouns, but to add apostrophes to capital letters (or numbers) if their meaning is unclear otherwise. “I’s” would be confusing in this sentence because we do not dot capital I’s.

8. C: The correct formation of plural numbers used as nouns is to write them with no apostrophe (1990s). The only time an apostrophe would appear before “90s” is when the “19” is left off. In this case, it would be used to indicate the abbreviation (“‘90s,” not “19’90s” or “19’90’s”). Even when used in the abbreviated form, the apostrophe is only correct before the number, not after it and before the “s.”

9. D: Using an apostrophe to indicate an abbreviated or shortened form of a number is correct. “The ‘70s” is an abbreviated or shortened form of “the 1970s.” The “70s” form is incorrect because it does not have an apostrophe at the beginning. The “70’s” form is incorrect for two reasons. First, it does not have an apostrophe at the beginning to show abbreviation. Second, it does have an apostrophe at the end, which is not the correct way to form plurals of numbers. The “‘70’s” form is incorrect because of the placement of the second apostrophe.

10. A: When forming possessives, only use an apostrophe after the second name when two people possess the same thing, as with Dennis and Pam, who own a house together. Use an apostrophe after both names when two people possess two things separately. Dennis and Pam do not have one job; “jobs” is plural. Dennis has a job and Pam has a different job. Choice B incorrectly uses apostrophes with both names to indicate joint possession of a house. Choice C incorrectly places the apostrophe after the first name of the joint owner (Dennis) instead of the second (Pam).

 

Last Updated: June 3, 2019