ACT English : Possessive Pronoun Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Possessive Pronoun Errors

Jeremy had no luck convincing the members of the orchestral committee about his suggestions. He pleaded, cajoled, was begging, and even threatened the committee at various times, but yet despite being the conductor, he couldnt get them to agree to his requests. Despite many attempts, the committee would not listen to him. In the end, he decided to go through with the Christmas concert despite him not having his favorite composer on the program. Afterward, one of his friends, whom was in the audience, came up and asked him why was there no Handel on the program? "I did try" Jeremy replied "but the committee were unanimously against me. I nearly begged them all day to put one piece on the program. But try as I might I could not get a Handel on it."

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded portion of the passage. If the bolded portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

the fact that

his not having

NO CHANGE

him having not

Correct answer:

his not having

Explanation:

A possessive pronoun is used before gerunds like "having;" thus "his not having" would be appropriate here.

Example Question #2 : Possessive Pronoun Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Who's coat is that?

Possible Answers:

Who is

Whose

Whom's

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

Whose

Explanation:

The possessive form of who is "whose." In this sentence the author is wondering who the coat belongs to, or who possesses the coat. "Who's" is only used to mean "who is" and "whom" is the objective form of "who."

Example Question #3 : Possessive Pronoun Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence below:

Stu and Tammy put his or her hats on, and went out into the rain.

Possible Answers:

our

his/her

no change

his

their

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

The subject of this sentence is "Stu and Tammy." Because two people are the subject, you could subsitute the pronoun "they" for the subject. Whenever you have the subject, "they," the proper possessive pronoun is "their."

Example Question #4 : Possessive Pronoun Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence below:

Francis was frustrated at being accosted about a bag of his own groceries. "You are mistaken, Officer," said Francis. "Those fruits and vegetables are ours."

Possible Answers:

 mine

one's 

no change

his

theirs

Correct answer:

 mine

Explanation:

Based on the context given in the first sentence, Francis is clearly carrying a bag of his own property; therefore, when he speaks to the police officer, he is referring to his property. Because he is speaking in the first person, and is alone, the correct possessive pronoun is

"mine."

Example Question #5 : Possessive Pronoun Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence below:

If anyone does not follow the rules, his or her life may be in danger.

Possible Answers:

their

her

his

no change

our

Correct answer:

no change

Explanation:

Anyone is a singular pronoun; therefore you need to use a singular possessive pronoun (in this case, his, or her). Because "anyone" is also not a gendered pronoun, you must use "his or her."   

Example Question #1 : Possessive Pronoun Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence below:

Treat Mother well; you never know when you will need her help.

Possible Answers:

one's

your

no change

our

their

Correct answer:

no change

Explanation:

In this sentence, the second part of the sentence is clearly referring to needing help from "Mother." Mother is a third person, feminine noun, so the correct possessive pronoun is "her."

Example Question #2 : Possessive Pronoun Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence below:

One does not get as much out of college if one does not do your homework.

Possible Answers:

their

one's

no change

his or her

his

Correct answer:

one's

Explanation:

In this sentence, the subject is the pronoun, "one." When the antecedent is the word, "one," the correct possessive pronoun is always one's.  

Example Question #3 : Possessive Pronoun Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence below:

Employees must wash his or her hands before returning to work.

Possible Answers:

their

theirs

no change

your

our

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

The subject of the sentence is the word "employees," which is plural. It is also third person; therefore, you must you use the possessive pronoun their.  

Example Question #9 : Possessive Pronoun Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence below:

The virus was very successful at reproducing quickly in it's natural habitat: the human brain.

Possible Answers:

our

her

its

his

their

Correct answer:

its

Explanation:

In this sentence, "the virus" is our subject. "Virus" is an ungendered third-person noun, so its proper possessive pronoun is "its." Watch out for it's: that is a contraction of "it is."

Example Question #4 : Possessive Pronoun Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence below:

If they do not do their job, we cannot do theirs; we need them to finish before we can start.

Possible Answers:

no change

his

ours

one's

their

Correct answer:

ours

Explanation:

You know from the context in the last part of the sentence, that there are two groups of people. The first group, of which the speaker is not a part, and is therefore a third person plural group. The second is clearly a first-person plural group; therefore, when referring to the job that that group has to do, the correct pronoun is "ours."

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