SAT Essay Help: Apostrophe and Comma Misuse
Apostrophes are used to form contractions, indicate possession or ownership, and form certain plurals. Eight rules cover all of the situations in which they may appear:
- Add 's to form the singular possessive, even when the noun ends in s:
- The school's lunchroom needs to be cleaned.
- The drummer's solo received a standing ovation.
- Mr. Perkins's persuasive essay was very convincing.
- A few plurals, not ending in s, also form the possessive by adding 's:
- The children's toys were found in every room of the house.
- The line for the women's restroom was too long.
- Men's shirts come in a variety of neck sizes.
- Possessive plural nouns already ending in s need only the apostrophe added:
- The customers' access codes are confidential.
- The students' grades improved each semester.
- The flight attendants' uniforms were blue and white.
- Indefinite pronouns show ownership by the addition of 's:
- Everyone's hearts were in the right place.
- Somebody's dog was barking all night.
- It was no one's fault that we lost the game.
- Possessive pronouns never have apostrophes, even though some may end ins:
- Our car is up for sale.
- Your garden is beautiful.
- His handwriting is difficult to read.
- Use an 's to form the plurals of letters, figures, and numbers used as words, as well as certain expressions of time and money:
- She has a hard time pronouncing s's.
- My report card had three A's. (Without the apostrophe, this could be misread as the word as.)
- The project was the result of a year's worth of work.
- Show possession in the last word when using names of organizations and businesses, in hyphenated words, and in joint ownership:
- Sam and Janet's graduation was three months ago.
- I went to visit my great-grandfather's alma mater.
- The Future Farmers of America's meeting was moved to Monday.
- Apostrophes form contractions by taking the place of the missing letter or number.
- We're going out of town next week.
- She's going to write the next proposal.
- My supervisor was in the class of '89.
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