When the Possessive Form Is Needed

Mark each sentence possessive if the word in parentheses would have to be possessive in form to fill the blank. Otherwise, mark it non-possessive. It does not matter whether the word would have to be made plural in order to fit.

How to Test

      A noun is said to be possessive if it conveys the idea that what it signifies owns something (usually indicated by the next noun):

            Juliet's giggle      that man's temper

Spelling a possessive noun is not difficult, but knowing when one has a possessive noun to spell can give trouble, since plural nouns and possessive nouns both end in the /s/ sound and since the ideas of ownership (possessives) and of counting (plurals) do not seem easy for some people to tell apart. When in doubt whether to use an apostrophe, try these tests on the word in question:

            1. Can it be paraphrased using an of phrase?
            2. Can it be changed into his, its, their but not he, him, it, they, them?

If the answers are yes, you have a possessive noun to spell.

Doubtful form: Batman brings about ?criminals? ruin and makes ?ordinary citizens? secure.

            Test 1: I could say "the ruin of criminals."
            Test 2: I could say, "Batman brings about their ruin. . . ."

            Test 1: I could not say "the secure of ordinary citizens."
            Test 2: I could not say, "and makes their secure."

Solution: Batman brings about criminals' ruin and makes ordinary citizens secure.