Which of the following is a correct example of using an apostrophe to form a possessive? Answer A. The mean bully tried to steal the urchin girl's matchsticks. B. A big, burly man shouted,...

Which of the following is a correct example of using an apostrophe to form a possessive? 

Answer

A.
The mean bully tried to steal the urchin girl's matchsticks.
B.
A big, burly man shouted, "Don't do that!"
C.
The girl, who had taken a self-defense course, wasn't afraid of the bully and punched him in the nose.
D.
It's a shame she did not hit him harder.

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Choices B., C., and D. are examples of using the apostrophe for contractions (shortening do not into don’t, was not into wasn’t). Also it is contracts into it’s.  This last use of an apostrophe for it is has been challenged by no less an English user than George Bernard Shaw, but his campaign to end the practice was not successful. English doesn’t have many punctuation marks, but this one is sometimes problematic.  For example, it’s is a contraction, but its is possessive; this homophone is confusing to both nonnative speakers and native students.  Choice A. uses an apostrophe to show possession—whose matchsticks?  The urchin girl’s matchsticks, the matchsticks belonging to (are possessed by) the girl.  

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