Punctuation Exercise (727)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: As a result, elk populations did very well-perhaps too well.
Correct : As a result, elk populations did very well—perhaps too well.

Here, a hyphen is erroneously used in place of a dash to indicate an abrupt break in the syntax of a sentence.

2.
Original: They want to point a massive radio dish at the unusual star, to see if it emits radio waves at frequencies associated with technological activity.
Correct : They want to point a massive radio dish at the unusual star to see if it emits radio waves at frequencies associated with technological activity.

The extraneous comma in this sentence is not an egregious error, but it serves no useful purpose and should be deleted.

3.
Original: The design firm Dover, Kohl, & Partners has contracted with the city to craft a new land-use and development plan.
Correct : The design firm Dover, Kohl & Partners has contracted with the city to craft a new land-use and development plan.

Although routinely using a serial comma, the one preceding the conjunction before the last item in a list, is recommended, the comma should be omitted before an ampersand.

4.
Original: Jane Smith, a terminally ill woman who moved to Oregon to end her life under that state’s assisted-dying law has changed the conversation around assisted suicide.
Correct : Jane Smith, a terminally ill woman who moved to Oregon to end her life under that state’s assisted-dying law, has changed the conversation around assisted suicide.

The parenthetical in this sentence is missing a closing comma.

5.
Original: Jones did everything himself, from stocking the store, to waiting on customers, to doing handyman repair jobs for customers at night.
Correct : Jones did everything himself, from stocking the store to waiting on customers to doing handyman repair jobs for customers at night.

No commas are required within "from . . . to . . . to" constructions.

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