Punctuation Exercise (557)

In each sentence, revise one or more punctuation marks to reflect correct usage.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Francis won the reality TV series, "Extreme Huntress," and has mentioned killing a number of animals.
Correct : Francis won the reality TV series "Extreme Huntress" and has mentioned killing a number of animals.

Framing the program title in quotation marks creates the implication that it is the only reality TV series. No commas are needed.

2.
Original: After my daughter started taking the bus alone last summer at age eleven (and four months to be exact), I noticed a change in her step.
Correct : After my daughter started taking the bus alone last summer at age eleven (and four months, to be exact), I noticed a change in her step.

The phrase "to be exact" is tacked onto "and four months," so intervening punctuation is necessary to show that it’s an afterthought. Without the comma, the parenthetical literally reads as if it’s excised from a sentence quantifying a deadline for becoming exact.

3.
Original: "The biggest impact of citizen photography is probably in public awareness," said Smith. "The fact that the media is paying so much attention to cases that would have been ignored in times past."
Correct : "The biggest impact of citizen photography is probably in public awareness," said Smith, "the fact that the media is paying so much attention to cases that would have been ignored in times past."

In the original example, the second quotation is an incomplete sentence, but that doesn’t become apparent to the reader until he or she reaches its end, which is confusing. Changing the period after the attribution ("said John Smith") to a comma and lowercasing the first word indicates that the attribution interrupts a single statement.

4.
Original: Former University of Nevada star skier, Wayne Poulsen, purchased the first 2,000 acres of Squaw Valley Ski Resort from the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Correct : Former University of Nevada star skier Wayne Poulsen purchased the first 2,000 acres of Squaw Valley Ski Resort from the Southern Pacific Railroad.

This error is related to the one in the first example in this set. "Former University of Nevada star skier" is not an appositive of "Wayne Poulsen"; to serve that function, it would have to be preceded by "the." Here, it is merely a descriptor, as is "actor" in "He’s never heard of actor John Wayne," which likewise requires no internal punctuation.

5.
Original: The sport can be either recreational - focusing on learning the technique of rowing, or competitive - where athletes race against each other in boats.
Correct : The sport can be either recreational (focusing on learning the technique of rowing), or competitive (where athletes race against each other in boats).

The writer of this sentence intended to set off the phrases describing the distinctions between recreational and competitive rowing, but the original version merely sets "focusing on learning the technique of rowing, or competitive" off as a parenthetical inserted in the main clause "The sport can be either recreational, where athletes race against each other in boats"—obviously not the person’s intention.

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