Punctuation Exercise (773)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: A ten year old boy is not going to prize a language arts book.
Correct : A ten-year-old boy is not going to prize a language arts book.

"Ten year old," as a phrasal adjective modifying "boy," must be hyphenated. "Language arts" is a permanent open compound that, because it is unlikely to create ambiguity when used as a phrasal adjective, is not hyphenated. (Such terms are usually listed in the dictionary.)

2.
Original: The team had just won the Super Bowl after all.
Correct : The team had just won the Super Bowl, after all.

Without a comma, "after" seems to refer to a sequence, implying that the victory occurred subsequent to some event left unmentioned in an apparently incomplete sentence. The comma clarifies that "after all" is an idiomatic tag phrase that emphasizes the achievement.

3.
Original: The matter was referred to the F.B.I.
Correct : The matter was referred to the FBI.

Insertion of periods in acronyms (abbreviations pronounced as words) and initialisms (abbreviations pronounced as letters) is obsolete. (According to The Associated Press Stylebook, familiar abbreviations such as "FBI" are acceptable on first reference, but The Chicago Manual of Style recommends that they be spelled out the first time the entity is mentioned.)

4.
Original: My three favorite ice cream flavors are: green tea, mint, and pistachio.
Correct : My three favorite ice cream flavors are green tea, mint, and pistachio.

The colon is redundant to the verb "are" in introducing what follows. (If the colon is used instead of "are," it would be better to start the sentence with "These are my . . . .")

5.
Original: The woman was merely homeless not dangerous.
Correct : The woman was merely homeless, not dangerous.

Use a comma near the end of a sentence to separate contrasted elements.

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