SAT Writing: Apostrophes

Apostrophes serve two purposes—possession and contraction.

Possession

To show possession, always add an ‘s unless the noun is plural and ends in s, in which case add only the apostrophe.

Example 1
Wrong:The cats hat is on the floor.
Correct:The cat’s hat is on the floor.
Example 2
Wrong:Louis’ scarf is 3 feet long.
Correct: Louis’s scarf is 3 feet long.
Example 3
Wrong:A giraffes’ neck is quite long.
Correct:A giraffe’s neck is quite long.
Example 4
Wrong:Both players’s jerseys were soaked with sweat.
Correct:Both players’ jerseys were soaked with sweat.
Example 5
Wrong:Because he was hungry, the babysitter ate all the childrens’ ice cream.
Correct:Because he was hungry, the babysitter ate all the children’s ice cream.

Example 4 is plural and ends in s. Example 5 is plural but children doesn’t end in s. Note the difference.

The SAT loves to test apostrophes by unnecessarily attaching them to plural nouns, as in the following examples.

Example 6
Wrong:The couple ordered several dishes’ to satiate their appetite for the chef’s food.
Correct:The couple ordered several dishes to satiate their appetite for the chef’s food.
Example 7
Wrong:The restaurant owner’s target high-class diners who can appreciate the subtlety of their dishes.
Correct:The restaurant owners target high-class diners who can appreciate the subtlety of their dishes.

Contraction

Apostrophes can also be used to take the place of missing words or letters. For example, it’s is short for it is and can’t is short for cannot. The following is a table of common contractions:

Contractionstands for…
it’sit is
they’rethey are
who’swho is
could’vecould have
he’she is
I’veI have
you’reyou are
that’sthat is

As you probably know, there are quite a few words that get commonly confused with possessives and contractions that sound the same. Here are the ones you need to know for the SAT:

it’s vs. its
it’s (contraction for it is) — He told me that it’s an alien from outer space.
its (possessive) — The poster fell from its spot on the wall.
they’re vs. their vs. there
they’re (contraction for they are) — They’re going to meet us at the restaurant.
their (possessive) — The students passed in their homework late.
there (location) — Jacob put the water bottle over there.
who’s vs. whose
who’s (contraction for who is) — Who’s that person sitting by himself?
whose (possessive) — I have a friend whose mother is an accountant.

Whenever you’re on a question that deals with contractions, ALWAYS read the sentence with the uncontracted version to see if it makes sense.

Example 8
Wrong:The book has a cool picture on it’s cover.
Correct:The book has a cool picture on its cover.

Would the uncontracted phrase it is cover make sense in Example 4? Nope. We need the possessive its.

Example 9
Wrong:He is the actor whose most known for his role in Batman.
Correct:He is the actor who’s most known for his role in Batman.

In Example 5, we mean to say who is and can do so using the contracted version, who’s.

 
 
 

  1. The judge critiqued the womens’ fashion choice’s during the beauty pageant.

    A) NO CHANGE
    B) womens’s fashion choices
    C) womens fashion choices’
    D) women’s fashion choices

  2. Because she was late to work, Joanne had to report to the factorys’ director.

    A) NO CHANGE
    B) factory’s
    C) factories’
    D) factories

  3. The novel’s protagonist, who’s telekinetic powers are capable of mass destruction, is a seemingly quiet and shy girl.

    A) NO CHANGE
    B) whose
    C) who has
    D) with her

  4. Taylor took the frame down, added a fresh coat of paint on each of it’s sides, and inserted a new picture.

    A) NO CHANGE
    B) they’re
    C) its
    D) their

  5. The teacher told us that the semester’s grades will be released a week from now.

    A) NO CHANGE
    B) semesters grades
    C) semesters’ grades
    D) grade’s for the semester

Want more questions? Our SAT Writing Advanced Guide and Workbook contains over 500 additional practice questions (grouped by topic) and 3 practice tests.
 
 
 

  1. D
  2. B
  3. B
  4. C
  5. A

 
 
 

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