PSAT Writing : Identifying Apostrophe Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Identifying Apostrophe Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

There was outrage in the elementary school; the childrens’ recess was shortened by a full ten minutesNo error.

Possible Answers:

shortened by a full ten minutes.

There was

No error.

childrens' recess

school; the

Correct answer:

childrens' recess

Explanation:

Because “children” is an irregularly formed plural, the normal apostrophe rules do not apply. The apostrophe goes before the "s": "There was outrage in the elementary school; the children’s recess was shortened by a full ten minutes."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Apostrophe Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The football teams near defeat instigated riots through the streets of the city. No error

Possible Answers:

instigated

through the streets

No error

football teams

near defeat

Correct answer:

football teams

Explanation:

This sentence has an apostrophe mistake. Since "football teams defeat" has a possesive in it, it needs an "'s" ending. The corrected sentence reads, "The football team's near defeat instigated riots through the streets of the city."

Example Question #3 : Identifying Apostrophe Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The boy's teacher had forgotten to correct their homework; she had spent the entire night planning the new geography lesson. No error

Possible Answers:

planning

No error

homework; she

had forgotten

The boy's

Correct answer:

The boy's

Explanation:

Be watchful of possessive plural nouns: here, the correct apostrophe will be at the end of the word: "boys'" is correct because the subject is plural.

Example Question #4 : Identifying Apostrophe Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The Scottish highland cow is infamous for it’s prodigious methane production. No error

Possible Answers:

it's prodigious

infamous for

is

No error

Scottish

Correct answer:

it's prodigious

Explanation:

Here, the wrong form of “its/it’s” is used. With the apostrophe, "it's" means “it is.” The possessive form of "it" is "its." The corrected sentence reads: "The Scottish highland cow is infamous for its prodigious methane production."

Example Question #5 : Identifying Apostrophe Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Magazine advertisement’s from the 1950s frequently portrayed women cooking, cleaning, and playing with children. No error

Possible Answers:

cleaning, and 

advertisement's

women

No error

1950s

Correct answer:

advertisement's

Explanation:

The error in the sentence is “advertisement’s,” which should be written as “advertisements.” An apostrophe should be used to show possession (e.g. "Bob’s cat") or when combining two words in a contraction (ex. "it is" can be written as "it’s"). This sentence is referring to magazine advertisements from the 1950s, but the “women cooking, cleaning, and playing” in the magazine advertisements do not belong to the magazine advertisements.

Example Question #6 : Identifying Apostrophe Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Distance was never an obstacle to the Gambardella's; no matter where they were, they made sure to stay in touch with each otherNo error

Possible Answers:

each other

No error

Gambardella's

made sure to

they were

Correct answer:

Gambardella's

Explanation:

It is clear from the excerpt that "Gambardella's" is a plural surname. It is not possessive and should not contain an apostrophe. The rest of the sentence is correct as written. 

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