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Practice in Using Apostrophes Correctly

A Multiple-Choice Quiz


This multiple-choice quiz will give you practice in applying the principles introduced in the article Using Apostrophes Correctly.

Complete each sentence below with the correct version of the word in italics. When you're done, compare your answers with those on page two.

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  1. (a) nurses
    (b) nurse's
    (c) nurses'

    The nurse appears, and looks inquiringly at each one in the room. Each one in the room evades the _____ glance in one last, futile attempt to fool someone and get away without seeing the dentist.
    (Robert Benchley, Paralepsis in Benchley's "The Tooth")

  2. (a) didnt
    (b) did'nt
    (c) didn't

    I went quickly away from her down the room and out and down the tiled staircase to the front hall. I _____ see anybody when I left.
    (Raymond Chandler, Chandler's Hard-Boiled Prose Style)

  3. (a) childs
    (b) child's
    (c) childs'

    Whether one panto is actually "better" than any other is almost impossible for an adult eye to judge. Perhaps more to the point is that the pantomime is usually a _____ first introduction to the theater . . ..
    (Julian Barnes, A Definition of Pantomime)

  4. (a) squirrels
    (b) squirrel's
    (c) squirrels'

    There is the "wince of fury," when your neighbor's Irish setter, Prince Sterling, has been barking at _____ shadows for months, night after night, keeping you awake and in an agitation verging on dementia, though unexpectedly you confront the neighbor at the end of the driveway at dusk, only to be told you're blowing the whole dog-barking thing way out of proportion, that you're too tightly wrapped and need to smell the roses.
    (Richard Ford, Classification in Independence Day)

  5. (a) its
    (b) it's
    (c) its'

    [I]n places like the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where my husband and I live with our two daughters, old-fashioned neighborhoods still exist. When we first came here years ago, we realized at once that we had moved into a community that had _____ own special landmarks and _____ own local pride.
    (Constance Taber Colby, Colby's Narrative of New York in the 1970s)

  6. (a) its
    (b) it's
    (c) its'

    We'll be warm through the winter months and then we can go downstairs in the springtime if there is any sign of dryness in the walls or the floor. Dad says _____ like going away on our holidays to a warm foreign place like Italy.
    (Frank McCourt, The Historical Present in Angela's Ashes)

  7. (a) thats
    (b) that's
    (c) thats'

    The first commercial rodeo in Wyoming was held in Lander in 1895, just nineteen years after the National League was formed. Baseball was just as popular as bucking and roping contests in the West, but no one in Cooperstown, New York, was riding broncs. And _____ been part of the problem.
    (Gretel Ehrlich, Rodeo and Baseball)

  8. (a) towns
    (b) town's
    (c) towns'

    On the second floor of the Town Hall, forty-one policemen and Civil Defense workers and the chairlady of the Winsted Red Cross were marooned. All but two of the _____ twelve bridges had collapsed or were about to.
    (John Hersey, Hersey's Narrative Report)

  9. (a) wasnt
    (b) was'nt
    (c) wasn't

    My oldest sister and her husband were shoved into one of those sixteen-by-twenty-foot compartments with six people they had never seen before--two other couples, one recently married like themselves, the other with two teenage boys. Partitioning off a room like that _____ easy.
    (Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, A Description of the Barracks in Block 16 of Manzanar)

  10. (a) mans
    (b) man's
    (c) mans'

    I have just been refining the room in which I sit, yet I sometimes doubt that a writer should refine or improve his workroom by so much as a dictionary: one thing leads to another and the first thing you know he has a stuffed chair and is fast asleep in it. Half a _____ life is devoted to what he calls improvements, yet the original had some quality which is lost in the process.
    (E.B. White, Examples in "Progress and Change")

Also see: The Apostrophe Quiz

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