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Getting Smarter through Language

Practice | Aprostrophes Showing Possession

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Intermediate-Advanced Level

Before attempting this exercise, you should watch the content video and the members-only video on our YouTube channel.

As you watch the videos, take notes focusing on the rules governing the use of apostrophes showing possession. Then use your notes and complete the exercise below.

Attention: These rules are not set in stone. Grammarians recommend different uses in some situations. For example, “in Jesus’s name” sounds stilted because it is a common expression, usually seen as “in Jesus’ name.” On the other hand, “Ross’s car" may sound better than “Ross’ car."

Exercise

Instructions. For each of the sentenes below, use the word or words in parentheses to complete the blanks so that the sentence makes sense. Pay close attention to the use of apostrophes.

Note. Your answers will not be submitted. When you leave this page, they will be deleted.

1. Have you seen (Charles) new car?

Charles’s

2. What have you done? You have broken my (niece) camera. How could you be so careless, for (goodness) sake!

niece’s
goodness’

Note. You may see “for goodness sake,” without an apostrophe, fairly frequently. However, it makes more sense, semantically, to use an apostrophe in expressions with “sake.”

3. This wall is not very functional, but it was build for (appearance) sake.

appearance’

Note. This use of an apostrophe after a noun ending with an S-sound is unusual; however, it makes sense and keeps your use of apostrophes in expressions with “sake” consistent.

4. For underage children to participate in this study, we needed to secure their (parents) written consent.

parents’

5. Nowadays much of young (children) playtime is spent in front of a screen.

children’s

6. The poor cow stuck (it) nose on the electric fence and received a big shock.

its
There is no apostrophe in possessive pronouns or possessive adjectives such as his, its, hers, yours, etc.

7. I found (someone) wedding ring in the (men) breakroom

someone’s
men’s

8. A (Cisco Systems) sales representative called you while you were out of the office.

Cisco Systems’

9. (France and Italy) goverments have agreed to strengthen their economic ties.

France’s and Italy’s

10. (Boys and girls) body images are an important issue as they go through puberty.

Boys’ and girls’

11. (Bob and Cheryl) statistics course is on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Bob and Cheryl’s

Note. This use of apostrophe is known as “joint possession” (or “joint ownership” ) and contrasts with “separate ownership” (as you saw in the previous items). From the context, you can tell that Bob and Cheryl are attending the same course, so you should treat them as a single group (of two).

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