Punctuation Exercise (574)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Consulting Engineer, John Smith, and Northwest Business Account Manager, Mary Jones, will present product updates.
Correct : Consulting Engineer John Smith and Northwest Business Account Manager Mary Jones will present product updates.

Commas should not set names off from preceding job titles unless they appear generically as job descriptions, as in the following example: "The consulting engineer, John Smith, and the Northwest business account manager, Mary Jones, will present product updates." (Note the lack of capitalization of job descriptions in this example.)

2.
Original: It appears they have touched all the bases with this revised project, and those bases are: reasonable heights, increased affordable housing, open space, and neighborhood-serving retail to bring some spark to what is an unfinished neighborhood.
Correct : It appears they have touched all the bases with this revised project, and those bases are reasonable heights, increased affordable housing, open space, and neighborhood-serving retail to bring some spark to what is an unfinished neighborhood.

A colon is redundant to a linking verb such as "are" that precedes a list, whether the list is in line (within a sentence) or formatted on subsequent lines, as with a bullet list or a numbered list.

3.
Original: San Francisco makes the top-ten cut, but click through to see which other cities make the list and get some handy travel tips.
Correct : San Francisco makes the top-ten cut, but click through to see which other cities make the list, and get some handy travel tips.

Without the second comma, this sentence reads as if, in the featured content, other cities accomplish two things: making the list and getting some handy travel tips. Insertion of the comma signals to the reader that "get some handy travel tips" is directed toward him or her, not toward the city.

4.
Original: Their son is recovering but now the Smiths are concerned that they exposed many other people to the measles as he was contagious for four full days before the first signs of the condition when they were out and about town.
Correct : Their son is recovering, but now the Smiths are concerned that they exposed many other people to the measles, as he was contagious for four full days before the first signs of the condition, when they were out and about town.

This breathless sentence benefits from insertion of several commas, but better yet, restructure it and omit some extraneous words, as shown here: "Their son is recovering, but now, because he was contagious for four full days before he showed any symptoms, the Smiths are concerned that they exposed many other people to the measles."

5.
Original: You might consider looking at the work environment, is it a healthy environment for you?
Correct : You might consider looking at the work environment. Is it a healthy environment for you?

This comma splice (an instance of a comma being used when grammatical structure requires stronger punctuation) is easily remedied by separating the two independent clauses as distinct sentences. Replacing the comma with a colon, which signals an expansion or explanation of the initial statement, is an alternative; a semicolon and a dash are also technically correct.

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