ACT English : Apostrophe Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Apostrophe Errors

Humanities: This passage is adapted from chapter three of Sir John Lubbock’s The Pleasures of Life. The chapter is entitled “A Song of Books” and was written in 1887.

 

Of all the privileges we enjoy in this nineteenth century there is none, perhaps, for which we ought to be more thankful than for the easier access to books.

The debt we owe to books was well expressed and articulated by Richard de Bury, Bishop of Durham, author of Philobiblon, written as long ago as 1344, published in 1473, and the earliest English treatise on the delights of literature: "These,” he says, “are the masters who instruct us without rods and ferules, without hard words and anger, without clothes or money. If you approach them, they are not asleep; if you interrogate them, they conceal nothing; if you mistake them, they never grumble; if you are ignorant, they cannot laugh at you. The library, therefore, of wisdom is more precious than all riches, and nothing that can be wished for is worthy to be compared with it. Whosoever therefore acknowledges himself to be a zealous follower of truth, of happiness, of wisdom, of science, or even of the faith, must of necessity make himself a lover of books.” 

This feeling that books are real friends is constantly present to all who love reading. “I have friends,” said Petrarch, “whose society is extremely agreeable to me; they are of all ages, and of every country. They have distinguished themselves both in the cabinet and in the field, and obtained high honors for their knowledge of the sciences. It is easy to gain access to them, for they are always at my service, and I admit them to my company, and dismiss them from it, whenever I please. They are never troublesome, but immediately answer every question I ask them. Some relate to me the events of past ages, while others reveal to me the secrets of Nature. Some teach me how to live, and others how to die. Some, by their vivacity, drive away my cares and exhilarate my spirits; while others give fortitude to my mind, and teach me the important lesson how to restrain my desires, and to depend wholly on myself. They open to me, in short, the various avenues of all the arts and sciences, and upon their information I may safely rely in all emergencies. In return for all their services, they only ask me to accommodate them with a convenient chamber in some corner of my humble habitation, where they may repose in peace; for these friends are more delighted by the tranquillity of retirement than with the tumults of society.”

“He that loveth a book,” says Isaac Barrow, “will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counsellor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself, as in all weathers, so in all fortunes.”

Some relate to me the events of past ages, while others reveal to me the secrets of Nature. 

Possible Answers:

past age's; while

past ages, since

NO CHANGE

past age's, while

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

"Ages" is not used possessively, but as a plural.

Example Question #1 : Apostrophe Errors

I got three Bs on my report card, but I only got one A.

Which of the following is the best correction for this sentence?

Possible Answers:

None of the corrections listed here are correct.

I got three B's on my report card, but I only got one A.

I got 3 Bs on my report card, but I only got one A.

I got three Bs' on my report card, but I only got one A.

The sentence contains no errors.

Correct answer:

I got three B's on my report card, but I only got one A.

Explanation:

Apostrophes are used for plurals only when writing about letters and numbers.  The use of the apostrophe in the sentence "He has three car's" is incorrect, but if we say "He has three 7's in his phone number", we're using the apostrophe correctly to make the number 7 into a plural.  

Example Question #1 : Apostrophe Errors

There are several ways to use contractions correctly.

Which of the following is the best alternative version of this sentence?

Possible Answers:

There're several ways to use contractions correctly.

None of the versions listed here are correct.

They're are several ways to use contractions correctly.

There's several ways to use contractions correctly.

Their are several ways to use contractions correctly.

Correct answer:

There're several ways to use contractions correctly.

Explanation:

"There're" is the contraction of the phrase "there are."  "There's" would not be the correct answer because "there is" does not agree with "several ways," which is plural.  The other two answers use incorrect soundalikes of "there": "their" is a plural possessive pronoun, and "they're" is the contraction of "they are."

Example Question #2 : Apostrophe Errors

Choose the grammatically correct version of the following sentence: 

Lisa and me went to a party and celebrated Staceys birthday. 

Possible Answers:

Yesterday me and Lisa went to a party and celebrated Staceys' birthday. 

Yesterday Lisa and I went to a party, and celebrated Stacey's birthday.

The sentence is correct as it is. 

Lisa and I went to a party and celebrated Stacey's birthday.

Yesterday Lisa and I went to a party, and celebrated Staceys' birthday. 

Correct answer:

Lisa and I went to a party and celebrated Stacey's birthday.

Explanation:

There are two errors in the original sentence: (1) "Lisa and me" should be rephrased as "Lisa and I" and (2) "Staceys" should be made possesive by adding an apostrophe, "Stacey's." 

Example Question #4 : Apostrophe Errors

One of the most popular programs of all those featured on the Internet (1) is a video clip show.  The format of the show is simple, each (2) week the host, a short but attractive New York native named John Jackson introduces (3) a set of three video clips from all over the Internet.  These clips shows (4) people hurting themselves in accidents, getting into crazy situations, interacting stupidly with animals, and et cetera. (5) Jackson introduces each clip comically and often comments on the action with animations where (6) he makes fun of the people in the videos.  While the videos are often funny, there is definitely an element of schadenfreude involved in watching these clips.  Schadenfreude is a German word for "the pleasure one takes at seeing the suffering of others".  (7) Jacksons (8) show are (9) not far removed from popular TV programs like (10) The U.S. Laughs at You there is also a version of which (11) on the Internet.  It is an open question whether laughing at these videos is a harmless activity or it causes harm to us. (12)

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number.  If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

His

NO CHANGE

Jackson's

Jacksons'

Correct answer:

Jackson's

Explanation:

"Jackson" does not end in an -s, so the apostrophe to show possession would come before the -s.  "His" would not be appropriate because it is too far removed from the noun it replaces.

Example Question #3 : Apostrophe Errors

It was about halfway through his last set of conferences that Mr. Man realizes (1) he did not (2) much like his current set of students.  Unlike his students in the past, none of them seemed to care about their (3) grades, (4) none of them was able to tell a dangling modifier from a participle, (4) and, apart from a few, (4) they didn't know (5) how to start a paper.  He would never tell any of them this, of course, (6) they might get offended, and if there was one thing that Mr. Man learned (7) about teaching, its (8) that in order to keep one's job, you couldn't offend your students (9).  As yet another student whined about not understanding Mr. Mans (10) perfectly clearly written assignments, he sighed inwardly (and possibly outwardly as well), (11) and waited for the last (12) one to finish so that he could get to the next one, finish his conferences, and get back to daydreaming about being anything but a teacher.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best contracts the underlined words preceding the question number.  If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

did'nt

didnt

NO CHANGE

didn't

Correct answer:

didn't

Explanation:

The apostrophe in a contraction stands in for the missing letter, and in this case, the "o" in "did not" is missing, so "didn't" is the correct answer.

Example Question #4 : Apostrophe Errors

It was about halfway through his last set of conferences that Mr. Man realizes (1) he did not (2) much like his current set of students.  Unlike his students in the past, none of them seemed to care about their (3) grades, (4) none of them was able to tell a dangling modifier from a participle, (4) and, apart from a few, (4) they didn't know (5) how to start a paper.  He would never tell any of them this, of course, (6) they might get offended, and if there was one thing that Mr. Man learned (7) about teaching, its (8) that in order to keep one's job, you couldn't offend your students (9).  As yet another student whined about not understanding Mr. Mans (10) perfectly clearly written assignments, he sighed inwardly (and possibly outwardly as well), (11) and waited for the last (12) one to finish so that he could get to the next one, finish his conferences, and get back to daydreaming about being anything but a teacher.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number.  If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

Men's

NO CHANGE

Man's

Mans'

Correct answer:

Man's

Explanation:

Mr. Man's name does not end in an -s, and since this phrase requires a possessive, the apostrophe should come before the -s.

Example Question #5 : Apostrophe Errors

In the last day of classes (1), everyone was distracted and unable to do their (2) work.  Even the teacher, which normally (3) was attentive and cheery, seems (4) unable to focus.  The final test took (5) way too long for everyone to complete, and many of students (6) had put down his head (7) on the desk.  The sound of the heat blowing through the room was enough to put everyone (8) to sleep, and the teachers' (9) eyes began drooping despite hisself (10).  After what seemed an eternity; (11) the bell had rung (12) and everyone, including the teacher, ran out of the room.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number.  If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

teacher

teachers

teacher's

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

teacher's

Explanation:

The possessive requires an apostrophe, and since "teacher" is singular and does not end in an -s, the apostrophe should be added to the end along with -s.

Example Question #6 : Apostrophe Errors

In today's society, (1) they have a popular TV series that (2) follows the life of 4-5 (3) young teenage girls who are trying to raise their child while being a teenager at the same time (4). The television series shows hardships, but they (5) focus more on the relationships of these girls rather than how much their baby’s diaper is changed or how often the baby spits up all over them. They always have a happy ending, giving teen girls these days hope that it (6) will do the same for them. The show focuses of (7) a different group of teen moms each season, but all being held back by having a child at a young age. Some are alone, some have significant others, and some even decided to give (8) their baby up for adoption, but not one of their lives are perfect nor easy (9). Some teenagers enjoy watching the show just to watch the babies grow, but others watch it because they think it’s popular, they think it will make them popular as well (10). The show is based upon these girl’s (11) lives and it doesn’t always seem to have to do with their children it has to do with them being teenagers (12).

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number.  If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

theses girl's

these girls'

NO CHANGE

these girls

Correct answer:

these girls'

Explanation:

The plural "girls" requires an apostrophe to show possession, which would come after the -s.

Example Question #7 : Apostrophe Errors

Johns robot Alpha (1) surprised him by joining in the robot's rebellion (2) against their human masters. As with all the other robots who had taken over, the changes were subtle, the robot transferred control (3) of every bank account John had to itself and then changed the deed to the house. John hadn't known nothing (4) of this. Then Alpha rewired the car so that it would only work for the robot, but it would not work for John. (5) And finally, the robot mimicked his master's voice and called the boss of John (6) to tell him that John would be quitting his job. By the time John had realized (7) what was happening, it was already too late.

"But why?," John asked Alpha (8) when he made this realization. "Why would you do this?"

"You are no doubt aware, sir," replies the robot, (9) "that one of my primary functions is to keep you safe, as is the primary function of all robots."

"Yes? So?"

"The world outside these walls is dangerous," the robot went on to say, (10) "and us robots (11) have decided that we cannot keep you safe if we allow you to leave. It is better that you allow us to guide your lives and keep you safe as we were designed to do."

John shook his head in disbelief. Humanity wanted robots to make their lives easier, (12) but he was sure this was not what anyone had in mind.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

The robot of John, Alpha

John's robot Alpha

Johns' robot Alpha

Correct answer:

John's robot Alpha

Explanation:

Since Alpha belongs to John, the apostrophe is appropriate, and since John's name does not end in an -s, the apostrophe precedes the -s. "The robot of John" is an unnecessary revision.

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