Punctuation Exercise (764)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: He has been compared to Hitler and African dictators, however those comparisons have yet to impact his front-runner status.
Correct : He has been compared to Hitler and African dictators; however, those comparisons have yet to impact his front-runner status.

The clause beginning with "however" is independent, so it requires a semicolon. (Alternatively, "however" could start a new sentence.) A comma should also follow the conjunction. Better yet, "however" should be replaced with "though," which requires no following punctuation: "He has been compared to Hitler and African dictators, though those comparisons have yet to impact his front-runner status."

2.
Original: The models are being tested in select, community-based settings.
Correct : The models are being tested in select community-based settings.

The reference here is to community-based settings that are select ones, not settings that are select and community based, so no punctuation should separate these noncoordinate adjectives.

3.
Original: Scientists point out that had the reactors at Fukushima remained intact . . . there would still be radioactive particles floating around in the Pacific.
Correct : Scientists point out that had the reactors at Fukushima remained intact, there would still be radioactive particles floating around in the Pacific.

A dash, rather than an ellipsis, should be used to signal an abrupt change in thought. But no such sudden shift occurs in this sentence, so a comma suffices to separate the subordinate clause from the main clause.

4.
Original: Much like his character in the film, Smith spent decades behaving poorly only to realize that kindness is a better path.
Correct : Much like his character in the film, Smith spent decades behaving poorly, only to realize that kindness is a better path.

The subordinate clause that begins with "only" must be set off from the main clause by a comma.

5.
Original: Her husband who had remained in Iraq told her not to return because of the security risk.
Correct : Her husband, who had remained in Iraq, told her not to return because of the security risk.

Without bracketing commas, the nonessential phrase "who had remained in Iraq," which by definition can be omitted from the sentence without affecting its meaning, seems to incorrectly imply that the woman has more than one husband, one of whom had remained in Iraq.

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