Punctuation Exercise (739)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The foundation has a long history of providing youth scholarships to children from all across the city making it possible for them to enroll in summer camps, swim lessons, and other recreation programs.
Correct : The foundation has a long history of providing youth scholarships to children from all across the city, making it possible for them to enroll in summer camps, swim lessons, and other recreation programs.

The part of the sentence that follows "city" is a nonessential addition and must be set off from the main clause by a comma.

2.
Original: The month before his parents disappeared, police say John Smith wrote that he had the "perfect plan."
Correct : The month before his parents disappeared, police say, John Smith wrote that he had the "perfect plan."

This sentence suggests, with inconsistent tense, that police made the statement a month before John Smith’s parents disappeared, but the meaning is that police made the statement that Smith wrote the comment a month before his parents disappeared. The sentence is easily corrected by inserting a comma after "police say" to show that it is a parenthetical attribution and not an integral part of the main clause.

3.
Original: "We are pleased to join a diverse group of stakeholders in support of this initiative," said foundation president Mary Jones, in a statement.
Correct : "We are pleased to join a diverse group of stakeholders in support of this initiative," said foundation president Mary Jones in a statement.

The comma after the person’s name is an error; it would be correct only as the second in a pair of commas setting off the name in a revised attribution such as "said the foundation’s president, Mary Jones, in a statement."

4.
Original: Proposition F sought to limit vacation rentals to seventy-five days a year; beef up enforcement and penalties; and establish big payoffs for neighbors and others who successfully sued violators.
Correct : Proposition F sought to limit vacation rentals to seventy-five days a year, beef up enforcement and penalties, and establish big payoffs for neighbors and others who successfully sued violators.

The use of semicolons to set off the parts of this sentence is overkill.

5.
Original: The film studio’s chief brand officer John Smith agreed that the idea has merit.
Correct : The film studio’s chief brand officer, John Smith, agreed that the idea has merit.

The lack of internal punctuation in this sentence creates the erroneous implication that the film studio has more than one chief brand officer; the name should be set off by commas to show that "John Smith" and "chief brand officer" represent the same thing.

Related Articles