Punctuation Practice Test instructions

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Punctuation Practice Test
  INSTRUCTIONS:  For questions 1-18 below, correct all punctuation errors by writing in the correct marks in their correct places.  Some sentences only need basic punctuation, like apostrophes and periods; others require more complex forms, such as dashes, hyphens, colons, and ellipses.

1. The   paper   was   clear   pertinent   and   well   written

2. Harry   and   Donnas   honeymoon   was   just   as   frantic   as   their   wedding

3. She   won   the   race   easily   in   fact   she   set   a   state   record

4. I   am   recalling   his  story   I   believe   as   accurately   as   I   can

5. The   last   year   of   the   twentieth   century   is   2000   not   99

6. I   expected   a   package   this   morning   however   I   waited   all   day   for   it   to arrive

7. Rainy   days   arent   all   that   bad   they   provide   the   water   crucial   for   all   life

8. She   witnessed   a   crime   on   her   street   she   promptly   locked   her   doors

9. We   traveled   to   Rome   Italy   Athens   Greece   and   Paris   France

10. Shakespeare   said   it   best   Alls   well   that   ends   well

11. He   is   not   well- liked   although   he   says   he   is   everyones   friend

12. Sarah   she   had   always   loved   animals   took   in   the   stray   kitten

13. Certainly   you   may   borrow   my   book   Gary

14. The    1950s    singer   Patty   Paige   sang   the   novelty   song   How   Much   is   That   Doggie   in  the Window

15. Nearly   all   Americans   own   a   Bible   but   few   including   scholars  of   literature have   read   it

16. Hmmm   its   a   tough   decision   but   Ill   take   the   red   one

17. Tuesday   July   25   1967   is   my   birthday

18. I   do   the   laundry   make   dinner   and   pick   up   the   kids   I   should   receive   a medal   for   all   of these   chores


Punctuation Practice Test Answers
1.  The paper was clear, pertinent, and well written.
Place commas to divide items in a series; "well written" would be hyphenated only if it preceded the noun.

2.  Harry and Donna's honeymoon was just as frantic as their wedding.
Use only one apostrophe when showing joint possession of a compound subject.

3.  She won the race easily; in fact, she set a state record.
    She won the race easily -- in fact, she set a state record.
Use the semicolon to join two independent clauses using a conjunctive adverb; "in fact" is an interrupter; a dash would also be acceptable because it leads into a surprise ending.
 
4.  I am recalling his story, I believe, as accurately as I can.
"I believe" is an nonessential interrupter, so use commas to separate this from the rest of the sentence.

5.  The last year of the twentieth century was 2000, not '99.
You must use an apostrophe to show the deletion of the "19" in the year 1999; use a comma to show negation of your previous thought.

6.  I expected a package this morning; however, I waited all day for it to arrive.
Use the semicolon to connect two independent clauses with a conjunctive adverb.

7.  Rainy days aren't all that bad: they provide the water crucial for all life.

(alt.) Rainy days aren't all that bad -- they provide the water crucial for all life.

(alt.) Rainy days aren’t all that bad; they provide the water crucial for all life.
The colon is used to connect an independent clause with an explanation that follows; a dash would also be acceptable here; use apostrophes to indicate the use of a contraction (which should not be used in formal writing). The use of a semi-colon to connect two related complete sentences is also acceptable.

8. She witnessed a crime on her street; she promptly locked her doors.


(alt.) She witnessed a crime on her street -- she promptly locked her doors.
The semicolon simply connects two statements together to show their closeness; a colon would be inappropriate because the second part does not explain the first part; a dash, however, would work because it progresses from a statement to an immediate, frantic action.

  1. We traveled to Rome, Italy; Athens, Greece; and Paris, France.
    Normally, you would use commas to separate these items in a list; however, we need a stronger comma to separate the cities/states from the other cities/states, so use the semicolon to represent a "super comma."

10.  Shakespeare said it best: "All's well that ends well."
Use the quotes to encompass Shakespeare's statement; use the colon to lead into the quote because you have just stated an independent clause; explanations follow colons, and this quote explains what Shakespeare said very directly; use the apostrophe to signify a contraction used in the quote.

11.  He is not well-liked, although he says he is everyone's friend.

Use a comma to separate the two independent clauses; use the apostrophe to indicate possession of a singular noun ("everyone").

12.  Sarah -- she had always loved animals -- took in the stray kitten.
Use the dashes to indicate an abrupt change of thought, as in this example where the speaker changes his mind about the direction his sentence would take; the dashes also help to organize the subject with its verb. Commas and parenthesis also work, but they are not the strongest option.

13.  Certainly, you may borrow my book, Gary.
Use a comma to separate introductory elements; use another to separate the recipient of the direct address ("Gary").

14.  Patty Paige sang the novelty song "How Much is That Doggie in the Window?"
Place the song title within quotation marks since it is a minor title that can be compiled in an anthology; be sure to place the question mark inside the quotes, since the title asks a question; you do not need a comma to separate the word "song" from the song's title -- it is essential information.

15.  Nearly all Americans own a Bible, but few, including scholars of literature, have read it.
(alt.) Nearly all Americans own a Bible, but few (including scholars of literature) have read it.
Use a comma to separate two independent clauses joined by a subordinating conjunction; further separate the phrase "including scholars of literature" with either commas or parentheses to clarify that this information is nonessential.

16.  Hmmm ... it's a tough decision, but I'll take the red one.

You can use an ellipses to indicate a thoughtful pause or the passing of silent time; use apostrophes to signify that two contractions are being used in this very informally written sentence; use a comma to separate two independent clauses used with a conjunction.

17.  Tuesday, July 25, 1967, is my birthday.
Use commas to separate days from dates, dates from years, and years from the rest of the sentence; you would need to place at least two commas no matter what two parts of this complete date you used:
Tuesday, July 25, is my birthday.
July 25, 1967, is my birthday.

18.  I do the laundry, make dinner, and pick up the kids -- I should receive a medal for all of these chores!
(alt.) I do the laundry, make dinner, and pick up the kids; I should receive a medal for all of these chores!
Use commas to separate items listed in a series; use the dash (or a semicolon) to connect the two clauses; a colon would not work in this sentence because the second part does not explain the first part (actually, if you look carefully, the first part explains the second part, but this is not the way we use a colon); you may use an exclamation point here because this person seems to be shouting -- keep in mind that this sentence is informally written, so you can get away with exclamations here.
 

Punctuation Practice Test #2

1. Alas, poor Bill

2. Do you recall in the last grammar exercise, how he fell from his horse

3. You may remember that he cracked his skull as he landed on the rocky ground

4. Shall we resume the story

5. I seized Bill's lifeless wrist and felt for a pulse

6. Nothing

7. How could he have died so easily, by merely falling from a horse

8. What was I going to do

9. It was such a God-forsaken place

10. Help was at least a day's ride away

11. Suddenly I became aware of the large, icy drops of rain on the wind

12. There was nothing else I could do

13. I would have to make camp for the night

14. And what a very long and very cold night it was going to be

 

Answers Punctuation Practice Test #2

 

1. Alas, poor Bill!



2. Do you recall in the last grammar exercise, how he fell from his horse?

3. You may remember that he cracked his skull as he landed on the rocky ground.

4. Shall we resume the story?

5. I seized Bill's lifeless wrist and felt for a pulse.

6. Nothing!

7. How could he have died so easily, by merely falling from a horse?

8. What was I going to do?

9. It was such a God-forsaken place!

10. Help was at least a day's ride away.

11. Suddenly I became aware of the large, icy drops of rain on the wind.

12. There was nothing else I could do.

13. I would have to make camp for the night.

14. And what a very long and very cold night it was going to be!

 

A Lesson in "Comma Sense"


Lesson Plan

Introduce students to grammar expert and humorist Richard Lederer. Lederer is author of books such as Comma Sense: A Fun-damental Guide to Punctuation and Anguished English: An Anthology of Accidental Assaults Upon Our Language. Share with students some of the sentences that Lederer shares with readers in his essay Looking at Language: A Little Bit of Comma Sense. Have students punctuate these sentences.

 a clever dog knows its master

 i saw a man eating lobster

 the butler stood in the doorway and called the guests names

 at summer camp I missed my dog my little brother the odor of my dads pipe and my boyfriend

The result can be quite humorous when any one of those sentences is incorrectly punctuated. Surely the correct punctuation of them is…

 A clever dog knows its master. not A clever dog knows it's master.

 I saw a man eating lobster. not I saw a man-eating lobster.

 The butler stood in the doorway and called the guests' names. not The butler stood in the doorway and called the guests names.

 At summer camp I missed my dog, my little brother, the odor of my dad's pipe, and my boyfriend. not At summer camp I missed my dog, my little brother, the odor of my dad's pipe and my boyfriend.

Lederer presents a few more instances where the correct punctuation makes a world of difference.

 [a want ad] WANTED: piano to replace daughters lost in fire

 [a newspaper headine] FATHER TO BE STABBED TO DEATH IN STREET

 [a book dedication] to my parents the pope and mother teresa

Surely the intent was…

 WANTED: piano to replace daughter's lost in fire not WANTED: piano to replace daughters lost in fire

 FATHER-TO-BE STABBED TO DEATH IN STREET not FATHER TO BE STABBED TO DEATH IN STREET

 To my parents, the Pope, and Mother Teresa not To my parents, the Pope and Mother Teresa

To conclude this lesson, provide students with the following text of a love letter set in all lower-case letters. Simply copy and paste the text below into a word document. Use your word processor's font and type size settings to make the text large enough to fill up a page.

my dear pat, the dinner we shared the other night -- it was absolutely lovely not in my wildest dreams could i ever imagine anyone as perfect as you are could you -- if only for a moment -- think of our being together forever what a cruel joke to have you come into my life only to leave again it would be heaven denied the possibility of seeing you again makes me giddy with joy i face the time we are apart with great sadness john p.s.: i would like to tell you that i love you i can't stop thinking that you are one of the prettiest women on earth

Challenge students to work on their own or in pairs to punctuate the text of the love letter so that it makes sense. Give students 10 or 15 minutes to complete the task (more if they are rewriting the text). Then correct the text as a class. Let students share their suggested corrections. The end result is that the love letter text probably looks like this:

My Dear Pat,

The dinner we shared the other night -- it was absolutely lovely! Not in my wildest dreams could I ever imagine anyone as perfect as you are. Could you -- if only for a moment - think of our being together forever? What a cruel joke to have you come into my life only to leave again; it would be heaven denied. The possibility of seeing you again makes me giddy with joy. I face the time we are apart with great sadness.
John
P.S.: I would like to tell you that I love you. I can't stop thinking that you are one of the prettiest women on earth.

OR

My Dear Pat,


The dinner we shared the other night -- it was absolutely lovely! Not in my wildest dreams could I ever imagine anyone as perfect as you are. Could you -- if only for a moment - think of our being together forever? What a cruel joke to have you come into my life only to leave again; it would be heaven denied. The possibility of seeing you again makes me giddy with joy. I face the time we are apart with great sadness.
John
P.S.: I would like to tell you that I love you. I can't stop thinking that you are one of the prettiest women on earth.

Extra Challenge
Close the lesson with one additional humorous exercise in punctuation. Provide the following statement for students:

a woman without her man is nothing

Challenge students to punctuate that sentences in two ways so that it will have two quite different meanings. The results might be…

 "A woman, without her man, is nothing."

 "A woman: without her, man is nothing."

Punctuate the following sentences:



  • a clever dog knows its master

 i saw a man eating lobster

 the butler stood in the doorway and called the guests names

 at summer camp I missed my dog my little brother the odor of my dads pipe and my boyfriend

Correct Answers:

 A clever dog knows its master. not A clever dog knows it's master.

 I saw a man eating lobster. not I saw a man-eating lobster.
 The butler stood in the doorway and called the guests' names. not The butler stood in the doorway and called the guests names.
 At summer camp I missed my dog, my little brother, the odor of my dad's pipe, and my boyfriend. not At summer camp I missed my dog, my little brother, the odor of my dad's pipe and my boyfriend.

A WORLD of Difference…




  • [a want ad] WANTED: piano to replace daughters lost in fire

 [a newspaper headine] FATHER TO BE STABBED TO DEATH IN STREET


 [a book dedication] to my parents the pope and mother teresa

 WANTED: piano to replace daughter's lost in fire not WANTED: piano to replace daughters lost in fire

 FATHER-TO-BE STABBED TO DEATH IN STREET not FATHER TO BE STABBED TO DEATH IN STREET

 To my parents, the Pope, and Mother Teresa not To my parents, the Pope and Mother Teresa

my dear pat the dinner we shared the other night it was absolutely lovely not in my wildest dreams could i ever imagine anyone as perfect as you are could you if only for a moment think of our being together forever what a cruel joke to have you come into my life only to leave again it would be heaven denied the possibility of seeing you again makes me giddy with joy i face the time we are apart with great sadness john p.s. i would like to tell you that i love you i can't stop thinking that you are one of the prettiest women on earth

my dear pat the dinner we shared the other night it was absolutely lovely not in my wildest dreams could i ever imagine anyone as perfect as you are could you if only for a moment think of our being together forever what a cruel joke to have you come into my life only to leave again it would be heaven denied the possibility of seeing you again makes me giddy with joy i face the time we are apart with great sadness john p.s. i would like to tell you that i love you i can't stop thinking that you are one of the prettiest women on earth

My Dear Pat,

The dinner we shared the other night -- it was absolutely lovely! Not in my wildest dreams could I ever imagine anyone as perfect as you are. Could you -- if only for a moment - think of our being together forever? What a cruel joke to have you come into my life only to leave again; it would be heaven denied. The possibility of seeing you again makes me giddy with joy. I face the time we are apart with great sadness.

John



P.S.: I would like to tell you that I love you. I can't stop thinking that you are one of the prettiest women on earth.

My Dear,
Pat the dinner we shared the other night. It was absolutely lovely -- not! In my wildest dreams, could I ever imagine anyone? As perfect as you are, could you -- if only for a moment -- think? Of our being together forever: what a cruel joke! To have you come into my life only to leave again: it would be heaven! Denied the possibility of seeing you again makes me giddy. With joy I face the time we are apart.



With great "sadness,"
John


P.S.: I would like to tell you that I love you. I can't. Stop thinking that you are one of the prettiest women on earth.



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