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SAT

Unit 11: Lesson 3

Writing: Grammar

Writing: Possessive Pronouns — Example

Watch David work through an SAT Writing: Possessive Pronouns question.

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  • hopper cool style avatar for user Madeliv
    I don't understand how you can tell from the sentence that Ilana and Phyllis owned a spaceship together as opposed to Phyllis owning a spaceship, losing her keys and her friend Ilana helping her look for them. In other words: isn't "Ilana and Phyllis couldn't find the keys to her(Phyllis')spaceship, which Phyllis insisted she had hung on a peg in the workshop." Just as correct as:
    "Ilana and Phyllis couldn't find the keys to their spaceship, which Phyllis insisted she had hung on a peg in the workshop."? In the video this is immediately ruled out but I really don't get why her isn't an equally valid option.

    If you would change the gender it might be easier to understand what I mean:
    "Ilana and Phillip couldn't find the keys to his spaceship, which Phillip insisted he had hung on a peg in the workshop."
    (3 votes)
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  • mr pink red style avatar for user Adi
    Is the statement Ilana and Phyllis couldn't find the keys to there spaceship, which Phyllis insisted she had hung on a peg in the workshop, incorrect as the which refers to the spaceship rather than the keys as that is what we learned in Writing: Modifier placement ?
    (0 votes)
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    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user GurmeerG23
      First, that is the wrong type of there/their/they're. The correct form is their because "their" is referring to the spaceship belonging to the two people. Second, yes that is wrong because that sentence means that the spaceship is being hung on the peg instead of the keys being hung. The sentence should be written like this; Llana and Phyllis couldn't find their spaceship's keys, which Phyllis insisted that she hung on a peg in the workshop.
      (4 votes)

Video transcript

- [Instructor] Ilana and Phyllis couldn't find the keys to their spaceship, which Phyllis insisted she had hung on a peg in the workshop. All right, so they're is underlined. This is a possessive pronouns question. So let's go through the options. No change, their, T-H-E-I-R, her, or T-H-E-R-E. Right out of the gate, I'm gonna say eh, on no change. Let me tell you why. They're is a very common error for they're, their, there confusion. Sure, there is they in this referring to Ilana and Phyllis, but T-H-E-Y-'-R-E is a contraction of they are, and we know that we're talking about the spaceship that belongs to Ilana and Phyllis. So we know that this is not the right word, T-H-E-Y-'-R-E, they are spaceship, no good. So let's cross that off. Their, T-H-E-I-R, that's the possessive form. That looks great to me, but let's keep moving. Her, her is tempting because maybe the spaceship belongs to one of them. However, that's less correct than they're, because it creates a pronoun clarity error. Which person does it belong to? Does it belong to Ilana or does it belong to Phyllis? We don't know that and we can't know that from the sentence so we're gonna have to eliminate it. Although I understand why it's tempting. Finally, T-H-E-R-E, well this is an adverb. The spaceship was there in the workshop. So it doesn't work. What we're looking for is a possessive pronoun. That pronoun that behaves like an adjective that says this spaceship belongs to Ilana and Phyllis. So it's not gonna be there. So that leaves us with option B, T-H-E-I-R, because it applies to both Ilana and Phyllis. It belongs to them, it is theirs, it is their spaceship.