GED Language Arts (RLA) : Apostrophes

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Language Arts (RLA)

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Apostrophes

Adapted from As You Like It by William Shakespeare (1623)

 

[This is a monologue by the character Jacques]

 

All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;

Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like a snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,

In fair round belly with good capon lin'd,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,

His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion;

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.

What is the purpose of the underlined word "world's"?

Possible Answers:

To describe stage by means of possession

To qualify the speaker's later claim

To provide a plural subject for the sentence

To emphasize the breadth of "all"

To limit "all" and provide the main verb of the sentence

Correct answer:

To limit "all" and provide the main verb of the sentence

Explanation:

The form "world's" is a contraction of "world" and "is." This start of the sentence could have been written: "All of the world is a stage . . ."  The word "all" could literally mean everything—the universe itself. Therefore, after a manner of speaking, "world" actually limits "all" to the world—presumably earth with its human history. Likewise, the clause needs a main verb, so the copula "is" is expressed through the contracted form—"'s."

Example Question #2 : Apostrophes

Passage adapted from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)

In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and protection to justify much national boasting. Daring burglaries by armed men, and highway robberies, took place in the capital itself every night; families were publicly cautioned not to go out of town without removing their furniture to upholsterers' warehouses for security; the highwayman in the dark was a City tradesman in the light, and, being recognised and challenged by his fellow-tradesman whom he stopped in his character of "the Captain," gallantly shot him through the head and rode away; the mail was waylaid by seven robbers, and the guard shot three dead, and then got shot dead himself by the other four, "in consequence of the failure of his ammunition:" after which the mail was robbed in peace; that magnificent potentate, the Lord Mayor of London, was made to stand and deliver on Turnham Green, by one highwayman, who despoiled the illustrious creature in sight of all his retinue; prisoners in London gaols fought battles with their turnkeys, and the majesty of the law fired blunderbusses in among them, loaded with rounds of shot and ball; thieves snipped off diamond crosses from the necks of noble lords at Court drawing-rooms; musketeers went into St. Giles's, to search for contraband goods, and the mob fired on the musketeers, and the musketeers fired on the mob, and nobody thought any of these occurrences much out of the common way. In the midst of them, the hangman, ever busy and ever worse than useless, was in constant requisition; now, stringing up long rows of miscellaneous criminals; now, hanging a housebreaker on Saturday who had been taken on Tuesday; now, burning people in the hand at Newgate by the dozen, and now burning pamphlets at the door of Westminster Hall; to-day, taking the life of an atrocious murderer, and to-morrow of a wretched pilferer who had robbed a farmer's boy of sixpence.

Correct the bolded and underlined portion of the passage.

Possible Answers:

robbed a farmers boy's of sixpence

robbed a farmers' boy of sixpence

robbed a farmer's boy of sixpence

robbed a farmers boy of sixpence

robbed a farmer boy of sixpence

Correct answer:

robbed a farmer's boy of sixpence

Explanation:

Apostrophes are used to show possession. In this example the boy belongs to the farmer therefore it is important to use "farmer's boy." Another way to say this portion of the sentence is robbed a boy of the farmer of sixpence.

Example Question #3 : Apostrophes

Passage adapted from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)

The messenger rode back at an easy trot, stopping pretty often at ale-houses by the way to drink, but evincing a tendency to keep his own counsel, and to keep his hat cocked over his eyes. He had eyes that assorted very well with that decoration, being of a surface black, with no depth in the colour or form, and much too near together—as if they were afraid of being found out in something, singly, if they kept too far apart. They had a sinister expression, under an old cocked-hat like a three-cornered spittoon, and over a great muffler for the chin and throat, which descended nearly to the wearer's knees. When he stopped for drink, he moved this muffler with his left hand, only while he poured his' liquor in with his right; as soon as that was done, he muffled again.

"No, Jerry, no!" said the messenger, harping on one theme as he rode. "It wouldn't do for you, Jerry. Jerry, you honest tradesman, it wouldn't suit your line of business! Recalled—! Bust me if I don't think he'd been a drinking!"

His message perplexed his mind to that degree that's he was fain, several times, to take off his hat to scratch his head. Except on the crown, which was raggedly bald, he had stiff, black hair, standing jaggedly all over it, and growing down hill almost to his broad, blunt nose. It was so like Smith's work, so much more like the top of a strongly spiked wall than a head of hair, that the best of players at leap-frog might have declined him, as the most dangerous man in the world to go over.

While he trotted back with the message he was to deliver to the night watchman in his box at the door of Tellson's Bank, by Temple Bar, who was to deliver it to greater authorities within, the shadows of the night took such shapes to him as arose out of the message, and took such shapes to the mare as arose out of her private topics of uneasiness. They seemed to be numerous, for she's shied at every shadow on the road.

What time, the mail-coach lumbered, jolted, rattled, and bumped upon its tedious way, with it's three fellow-inscrutables inside. To whom, likewise, the shadows of the night revealed themselves, in the forms their dozing eyes and wandering thoughts suggested.

Which of these answer choices makes correct use of an apostrophe?

Possible Answers:

They seemed to be numerous, for shes' shied at every shadow on the road.

His message perplexed his mind to that degree that's he was fain, several times, to take off his hat to scratch his head.

When he stopped for drink, he moved this muffler with his left hand, only while he poured his' liquor in with his right; as soon as that was done, he muffled again.

What time, the mail-coach lumbered, jolted, rattled, and bumped upon its tedious way, with it's three fellow-inscrutables inside

It was so like Smith's work, so much more like the top of a strongly spiked wall than a head of hair, that the best of players at leap-frog might have declined him, as the most dangerous man in the world to go over.

Correct answer:

It was so like Smith's work, so much more like the top of a strongly spiked wall than a head of hair, that the best of players at leap-frog might have declined him, as the most dangerous man in the world to go over.

Explanation:

There are many ways to use apostrophes including contractions and possessives. In the above options the use of it's is incorrect as the possessive for of "it" is spelled without an apostrophe. The only correct use is Smith's as it is a possessive.

Example Question #4 : Apostrophes

In this popular car ad a pony stands against a rural prairie backdrop. He is flashing a set of gold teeth. Dark, clouds overhead indicate the arrival of a rainstorm. In the top right hand corner of the ad, the tagline reads: “Now in the Prairies. The urban-inspired, 2009 Forota Hattrick.” Created for the Canadian Prairie Forota Dealers organization by an advertising firm; this ad is one in a series of three, each of which feature farm animals sporting so-called “urban-inspired” accessories: a pony with a grill, a sheep with an afro pick, and a cow with a Band-Aid under his left eye (reminiscent of the one once regularly worn by rapper Nelly).

The urban pony ad has a dark color scheme that is more muted then saturated. The dark background emphasizes the sparkle bouncing off the pony’s grill. There’s also a strong contrast between the images’ foreground and background. While the environment is hazy and its details soft, the pony is seen up close, a bright light source illuminating texture in the individual strands of its hair and the indentations in its gold teeth. Overall, the image of the pony is highly stylized—particularly in contrast—with its visually subdued surroundings. The pony’s aestheticized or artificial qualities being at odds with its rural environment.

On the other hand, there are also visual cues indicating affinity between the animal and its surroundings. For example, the shape of its teeth are echoed in a faint yellow rectangular shape floating in the sky. The pattern of shadow and light mottling the pony’s cheek bones also mimics the pattern of dark and light in the gathering storm clouds. This might suggest that the animal is being allies with its natural, prairie setting. The storm, however, contains its own ambiguity: though it is a part of nature, it can also be read as foreboding symbol signally the arrival of the urban-inspired car. These visual details serve to simultaneously place the pony within and alienate it from its surroundings. 

Select the answer that best corrects the underlined sentence. 

Possible Answers:

There’s also a strong contrast between the image is foreground and background.

The sentence contains no error. 

There’s also a strong contrast between the image's foreground and background.

Theres' also a strong contrast between the images’ foreground and background.

Theirs also a strong contrast between the images' foreground and background.

Correct answer:

There’s also a strong contrast between the image's foreground and background.

Explanation:

"Image" is a singular noun, and in this case the apostrophe is being used to demonstrate possession (the foreground and background belong to the image).

The image would need to be plural ("images") and possess multiple foregrounds and backgrounds for the current punctuation to be correct. 

Example Question #5 : Apostrophes

Passage adapted from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

Gardening, walks, rows on the river, and flower hunts employed the fine days, and for rainy ones, they had house diversions, some old, some new, all more or less original. One of these was the `P.C', for as secret societies were the fashion, it was thought proper to have one, and as all of the girls admired Dickens, they called themselves the Pickwick Club. With a few interruptions, they had kept this up for a year, and met every Saturday evening in the big garret, on which occasions the ceremonies were as follows: Three chairs were arranged in a row before a table on which was a lamp, also four white badges, with a big `P.C.' in different colors on each, and the weekly newspaper called, The Pickwick Portfolio, to which all contributed something, while Jo, who reveled in pens and ink, was the editor. At seven o'clock, the four members ascended to the clubroom, tied their badges round their heads, and took their seats with great solemnity. Meg, as the eldest, was Samuel Pickwick, Jo, being of a literary turn, Augustus Snodgrass, Beth, because she was round and rosy, Tracy Tupman, and Amy, who was always trying to do what she couldn't, was Nathaniel Winkle. Pickwick, the president, read the paper, which was filled with original tales, poetry, local news, funny advertisements, and hints, in which they good-naturedly reminded each other of their faults and short comings. On one occasion, Mr. Pickwick put on a pair of spectacles without any glass, rapped upon the table, hemmed, and having stared hard at Mr. Snodgrass, who was tilting back in his chair, till he arranged himself properly, began to read:

What is the correct way to write the bolded and underlined section of the passage?

Possible Answers:

(no change)

seven clock

seven' o'clock

seven' oclock

seven oclock

Correct answer:

(no change)

Explanation:

When writing "o'clock" the apostrophe must go after the "o" and is not needed on the number. The full term is seven of the clock but is has been shorten to o'clock, which is why and apostrophe is needed. 

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