Apostrophes Exercise (430)

Correct one or more erroneous insertions or omissions of an apostrophe in each sentence.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Several women in their 50s browsed in the womens wear section.
Correct : Several women in their 50s browsed in the women’s wear section.

References to age ranges such as "50s" are correct as is; similar-looking references to decades ("in the ’50s") should be preceded by an apostrophe to indicate elision, or omission, of one or more digits, but do not precede the "s" with an apostrophe, because the usage is plural, not possessive. (By the same token, the preferred spelled-out form, "fifties," should have no apostrophe.) "Women’s" is a possessive term meaning "for or belonging to women" and requires an apostrophe.

2.
Original: All coat’s and jacket’s are 10 percent off.
Correct : All coats and jackets are 10 percent off.

The references to outerwear are plurals, not possessives or contractions. (Apostrophes are correct in such usage as "He ripped my coat’s sleeve" and "Your jacket’s still in the car.") This error is known as a greengrocers’ apostrophe because handwritten signs at businesses frequently display such mistakes.

3.
Original: We went over to the Johnson’s house for dinner and were served shepherd’s pie.
Correct : We went over to the Johnsons’ house for dinner and were served shepherd’s pie.

The house belongs to the Johnsons, not the Johnson, so the apostrophe belongs after the "s." The name of the dish refers to the individual, not the category of individuals, who was originally served such a meal.

4.
Original: They consider him a ne’er-do-well who exploits others weaknesses.
Correct : They consider him a ne’er-do-well who exploits others’ weaknesses.

"Ne’er-do-well" correctly includes a contraction of "never." The victims of the ne’er-do-well are others, so an apostrophe is inserted after the word to indicate possession.

5.
Original: They offended Lindas’ sensibilities with their good-ole-boy attitudes.
Correct : They offended Linda’s sensibilities with their good-ol’-boy attitudes.

The correct possessive form for "Linda" is "Linda’s," and the correct form of the compound adjective modifying "attitudes" is "good-ol’-boy."

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