Grammar Mechanics Study Guide: Pre-Ged Language Arts, Writing (page 3)

Updated on Aug 12, 2011

Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are used at the beginning and end of direct quotes; these are the exact words that someone has spoken or written. Take a look at the following examples:

Miss Jordan said, "Your book reports are due on Friday."

According to the colonel, "There were several causes of this particular skirmish."

Quotation marks are also used to enclose the titles of shorter works such as:

Now that you've reviewed correct punctuation usage, try answering the following question.

Isabella's teacher said, "The students' will share their research papers with the class on Monday; the boys will share theirs first."

Which correction should be made to the sentence?

  1. remove the apostrophe in Isabella's
  2. remove the comma after said
  3. remove the apostrophe after students'
  4. insert an apostrophe after boys
  5. insert an apostrophe in theirs

Answer: c

In this sentence, students is plural, but not possessive, so an apostrophe is not needed.


On the GED, spelling questions will be limited to testing what you know about possessives, contractions, and homonyms. Let's go over the things you need to know to answer spelling questions on the test successfully.


As discussed earlier in the chapter, possessives show ownership. To form a possessive, add an apostrophe and an s to the end of a singular or plural noun that does not already end in s. If a plural noun ends in s, place the apostrophe at the end of the word. This shows that the object belongs to more than one person. Take a look at the following examples:

Keegan's dog is staying at Charles's house this weekend.

Our family's fishing cabin is nearly 50 years old.

That girl's book is on the desk.

The girls' locker room is on the east side of the gymnasium.

Look at the third and fourth sentences above. These show that the book belongs to one girl; however, the locker room belongs to more than one girl.

Possessive pronouns show ownership and do not need an apostrophe and s at the end. Possessive pronouns include:


Contractions are formed when two words are combined, and one or more of the letters are then replaced by an apostrophe. For example, the contraction I'll combines the words I and will. Notice that the apostrophe takes the place of the missing letters. While contractions are very commonly used, they are not often used in academic or formal writing. Take a look at the following examples:

We haven't been to the library yet.

I'm sure the concert starts at 8:00 p.m.

A few common contractions are formed as follows:

  • are not – aren't
  • ashe is – she's
  • can not – can't
  • they are – they'ren
  • do not – don't
  • we are – we'ren
  • I am – I'm
  • we will – we'lln
  • it is – it's
  • will not – won'tn
  • have not – haven't
  • you are – you'ren
  • he will – he'll
  • she is – she's

Be careful to always include the apostrophe in a contraction. Notice that without the apostrophe, several of these contractions would actually be completely different words. Without the apostrophe, we'll would be well, and it's would be the possessive pronoun its.

Homonyms are words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. For example, knew and new are homonyms. They sound identical but are not spelled the same and do not mean the same thing. Here are some examples of homonyms in action:

We knew that the book reports were due on Thursday.

Did you get new shoes?

Below is a list of common homonyms and their meanings. Carefully review any that you are unfamiliar with. Remember, not only will you have to use homonyms correctly in your own writing, you will also have to recognize whether these words are used properly in a passage provided to you.

  1. accept: to take something that is offered; come to terms with / except: excluding
  2. affect: act upon / effect: result
  3. brake: a device used for slowing or stopping / break: to separate into pieces or damage; a period of rest
  4. forth: onward / fourth: one of four parts; number four in a series
  5. hear: to listen to something / here: in this place
  6. peace: freedom from war; calm and quiet / piece: part taken from a whole
  7. principal: school administrator; most important; money invested / principle: basic assumption or standard
  8. right: correct; opposite of left; entitlement or freedom / rite: ceremonial act / write: put words or characters on paper
  9. their: belonging to them / there: in that place / they're: contraction for they are
  10. through: finished; to move from one side to the other / threw: past tense of throw
  11. to: indicates direction or recipient / too: also / two: number between one and three
  12. weak: not strong / week: seven days
  13. wear: to put on / where: in which location
  14. weather: state of the atmosphere / whether: introduces alternatives
  15. wood: substance of trees / would: helping verb

The following are some additional homonyms to look out for. Be sure to know the correct meanings and spellings of the words in each pair.

Let's use some of what you've reviewed about spelling to answer the following question.

It's always good to hear the children's choir when they begin there song.

Which correction should be made to the sentence?

  1. replace It's with Its
  2. replace hear with here
  3. replace children's with childrens'
  4. replace when with win
  5. replace there with their

Answer: e

There indicates direction, such as in the phrase go over there. Their is a possessive pronoun which means that something belongs to them. In this sentence, the song belongs to the children.

The practice quiz for this study guide can be found at:

Grammar Mechanics Practice Problems: Pre-Ged Language Arts, Writing

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