Punctuation Exercise (768)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Clinton quickly accepted the apology Saturday night, saying "We should move on because I don’t think the American people are all that interested in this."
Correct : Clinton quickly accepted the apology Saturday night, saying, "We should move on because I don’t think the American people are all that interested in this."

A comma must follow a verb referring to attribution when the verb precedes a quotation consisting of one or more complete sentences.

2.
Original: She said she realized it was, "probably bad timing."
Correct : She said she realized it was "probably bad timing."

Because the paraphrase "she realized it was" and the partial quotation "probably bad timing" are considered to be parts of a complete sentence, no intervening punctuation is called for. Punctuation would follow the attribution—here, "she said"—if what followed was a direct quotation, rather than a paraphrase, as here.

3.
Original: It was scheduled on the last weekend before Christmas when many Americans have turned their attention to the holidays.
Correct : It was scheduled on the last weekend before Christmas, when many Americans have turned their attention to the holidays.

A comma is required between a main clause and a subordinate clause.

4.
Original: The letter was allegedly found inside a pair of socks purchased from Irish clothing retailer, Primark.
Correct : The letter was allegedly found inside a pair of socks purchased from Irish clothing retailer Primark.

The comma in this sentence serves no function and should be omitted. An alternate revision is "The letter was allegedly found inside a pair of socks purchased from Primark, an Irish clothing retailer."

5.
Original: A backlash against the pageant’s former owner Donald Trump led Univision to pull out of the broadcast.
Correct : A backlash against the pageant’s former owner, Donald Trump, led Univision to pull out of the broadcast.

"Donald Trump" and "the pageant’s former owner" are appositives—words or phrases equivalent in meaning—and one should be treated parenthetically in relation to the other, except when a descriptive title precedes the name of the person holding that title, as in "A backlash against former pageant owner Donald Trump led Univision to pull out of the broadcast."

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