Punctuation Exercise (297)

Edit the following sentences to provide any missing commas, colons, apostrophes, or quotation marks.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Katherine is an admirable woman shes a gracious hostess a concerned citizen and a loyal friend.
Correct : Katherine is an admirable woman: she’s a gracious hostess, a concerned citizen, and a loyal friend.

The colon introduces a list of characteristics. The comma before the "and" may be omitted.

2.
Original: Mr. Walker my high school Latin teacher dressed oddly walked oddly and made unfunny jokes but most of the students liked him anyway.
Correct : Mr. Walker, my high school Latin teacher, dressed oddly, walked oddly, and made unfunny jokes, but most of the students liked him anyway.

The first two commas set off a nonessential phrase; the next two commas separate verb phrases (the comma before "and" may be omitted); a comma is needed after jokes because but introduces an independent clause.

3.
Original: Ahmed said he had seen the mayor and the sheriff at the meeting.
Correct : Ahmed said he had seen the mayor and the sheriff at the meeting.

No comma is needed after "said"; it introduces an indirect quotation. "the mayor and the sheriff" is a compound direct object.

4.
Original: Panting heavily the dog threw himself down on the cool tile.
Correct : Panting heavily, the dog threw himself down on the cool tile.

A comma is usually required after an introductory phrase. To be safe, always use one.

5.
Original: Do you know Sandburgs poem Fog she asked.
Correct : "Do you know Sandburg’s poem ‘Fog’?" she asked.

"Fog" has single quotations because it is within a direct quotation. Because the quotation is a question, there’s no place for a comma before the "she asked." Question marks trump commas.

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