Punctuation Exercise (493)

Revise each sentence to correct punctuation errors.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The team had just won the Super Bowl after all.
Correct : The team had just won the Super Bowl, after all.

Without a comma, "after" seems to refer to a sequence, implying that the victory occurred subsequent to some event left unmentioned in an apparently incomplete sentence. The comma clarifies that "after all" is an idiomatic tag phrase that emphasizes the achievement.

2.
Original: Chances are that you’re not getting enough sleep and the National Sleep Foundation is here to help.
Correct : Chances are that you’re not getting enough sleep, and the National Sleep Foundation is here to help.

Although it is customary to precede a conjunction separating two independent clauses with a comma, the punctuation mark is sometimes omitted in brief, simple sentences. However, in this statement, the comma is necessary to avoid connecting "chances are" with the second clause: the intended meaning is not "chances are that . . . the National Sleep Foundation is here to help." The punctuation clarifies that the second clause is a distinct idea.

3.
Original: If developed properly, Douglas said it is the type of product that "rains money."
Correct : If developed properly, Douglas said, it is the type of product that "rains money."

Without the comma following the attribution, the sentence seems to refer to Douglas being developed properly. The attribution must be bracketed by a pair of commas to signal that it is an interjection that serves to identify the speaker.

4.
Original: She heard the pop and crash of breaking glass, and from below, the rat-a-tat sound of explosions like artillery fire.
Correct : She heard the pop and crash of breaking glass and, from below, the rat-a-tat sound of explosions like artillery fire.

Sentences such as this one with a compound predicate (in which two things, not just one, are told about the subject—she heard both breaking glass and explosions) are often erroneously treated as if they consist of two independent clauses. The only purpose of internal punctuation in this sentence, however, is to set off the interjected modifying phrase "from below."

5.
Original: The audit uncovered a state water board employee embezzling state funds, other state employees improperly filing for travel or mileage expenses, as well as additional wastes of public resources.
Correct : The audit uncovered a state water board employee embezzling state funds and other state employees improperly filing for travel or mileage expenses, and additional wastes of public resources.

"As well as" is not equivalent to "and"; it serves to link a tangentially related word or phrase to an independent clause, as in "The shopping list included milk, bread, and eggs, as well as dish soap."

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