Punctuation with Quotation Marks Exercise (428)

All but one of the following sentences use punctuation incorrectly. Identify and correct the punctuation errors.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: My response to such calls for censorship is generally, "If you don’t like what you see, don’t look."
Correct : My response to such calls for censorship is generally "If you don’t like what you see, don’t look."

When a variation of "to be" intervenes between a phrase and a quotation that are appositive to each other (meaning, in this case, that the latter is an example of the former), so that the verb serves as a sort of equal sign between the sentence’s elements, no intervening punctuation is necessary.

2.
Original: He lives by the maxim, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."
Correct : He lives by the maxim "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

Similarly, when a word or phrase within quotation marks serves as an appositive to what precedes it, do not include a comma before the open quotation mark. Doing so implies that the quoted maxim is the only maxim that exists.

3.
Original: I asked, "Which of these things is not like the other?"
Correct : I asked, "Which of these things is not like the other?"

This sentence is correct as is.

4.
Original: She wrote the word "right", but she meant to write "rite".
Correct : She wrote the word "right," but she meant to write "rite."

In American English, a comma at the end of a quoted word or phrase almost always appears before the close quotation mark. (Exceptions: in linguistics texts and in references in content about computer programming to keyboard inputs, to eliminate ambiguity about the function of the punctuation.)

5.
Original: Did you say, "I wasn’t in the room at the time?"
Correct : Did you say, "I wasn’t in the room at the time"?

Because "I wasn’t in the room at the time" is a declarative sentence, not an interrogative sentence, the question mark is placed outside the close quotation mark to indicate that the framing sentence, not the quoted statement, is a question. (The same rule applies to use of exclamation points.)

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