Punctuation Exercise (685)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The statement was in response to Donald Trump using one of the group’s songs at a Washington, D.C. rally Wednesday afternoon.
Correct : The statement was in response to Donald Trump using one of the group’s songs at a Washington, D.C., rally Wednesday afternoon.

The abbreviation "D.C." (which, like other two-letter abbreviations, is increasingly being used in writing without periods) is a parenthetical and therefore requires a following comma as well as a preceding one.

2.
Original: These are people that are unfit to run for office in my opinion.
Correct : These are people that are unfit to run for office, in my opinion.

A comma must set off the modifying phrase "in my opinion" from the main clause. (Also, the pronoun "who" is better suited to refer to people than "that.")

3.
Original: Mary enjoys local arts and entertainment, and if it involves music—she’s in!
Correct : Mary enjoys local arts and entertainment—and if it involves music, she’s in!

No syntactical purpose exists for the dash; a simple comma suffices. If it is to be used at all, it should signal a break between the two independent clauses, as shown in the revision.

4.
Original: Smith, a member of Stanford’s Climate and Earth System Dynamics Science Group whose scientists have tied the drought to the increased pace of global warming, noted that the evidence that the Pacific Ocean’s water temperatures are rising is clear.
Correct : Smith, a member of Stanford’s Climate and Earth System Dynamics Science Group, whose scientists have tied the drought to the increased pace of global warming, noted that the evidence that the Pacific Ocean’s water temperatures are rising is clear.

The phrase "a member of Stanford’s Climate and Earth System Dynamics Science Group" is parenthetical, providing additional information to the main clause of the sentence, so it must be bracketed before and after by punctuation.

5.
Original: Jones scored a key, 17-yard touchdown just before halftime.
Correct : Jones scored a key 17-yard touchdown just before halftime.

"Key" modifies "17-yard touchdown" ("key" and "17-yard" do not modify "touchdown" in parallel), so no comma should be included.

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