Punctuation Exercise (717)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: They immediately focused on several, long-debunked allegations regarding the response.
Correct : They immediately focused on several long-debunked allegations regarding the response.

The phrase "several long-debunked allegations" includes two noncoordinate adjectives, descriptive words or phrases that are not interchangeable. Here, "several" and "long-debunked" are not each referring to "allegations"; "several" modifies "long-debunked allegations," so no intervening punctuation should exist.

2.
Original: The Department of Homeland Security has since ended the Secure Communities program, as courts cast doubt on it’s legality.
Correct : The Department of Homeland Security has since ended the Secure Communities program, as courts cast doubt on its legality.

This sentence displays the ubiquitous error of using the contracted form of "it is" instead of the pronoun "its."

3.
Original: The question is whether the radio waves were emitted by a technological source like those that waft out into the universe from Earth’s network of radio stations.
Correct : The question is whether the radio waves were emitted by a technological source, like those that waft out into the universe from Earth’s network of radio stations.

The inserted comma distances the subordinate clause from the independent clause, clarifying that "like" refers not to "technological source" but to "radio waves."

4.
Original: But don’t come within striking distance of the snake, just take a photo and jot down the specifics.
Correct : But don’t come within striking distance of the snake; just take a photo and jot down the specifics.

The sentence has a comma splice: It consists of two independent clauses, so the second clause must follow a semicolon (or a period—and capitalize the first word), not a simple comma.

5.
Original: There was no evidence that the executor cheated them out of millions of dollars worth of concert posters.
Correct : There was no evidence that the executor cheated them out of millions of dollars’ worth of concert posters.

"Dollars" takes the possessive form in constructions with the phrasing "[blank] worth of" when "[blank]" is a unit of counting or measurement.

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