Which of These Sentences Has the Correct Punctuation?

By: Torrance Grey
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Whats' the point; of punctuation:? You only need to wade through a badly-punctuated piece of writing to know the answer to that question! Are your punctuation skills on point? Find out now with our quiz!

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

An apostrophe shows possession or indicates a missing letter or letters in a contraction. This sentence shows examples of both.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

While a colon sometimes precedes a list, it shouldn't do so in a sentence this simple. To justify a colon, you'd have to write a sentence like, "These are the colleges to which she applied: Ohio State, the University of Minnesota and Miami University." Note also that this sentence does not use the "Oxford comma" after "University of Minnesota." Some people prefer its use; it's a matter of taste.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Semicolons are used to link two independent clauses that don't need to be separate sentences. The key to their proper use, in this example, is the word "and." You can't use a conjunction with a semicolon; it's redundant.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Justin is quoting what he imagines the girl would say, so we need both double quotes and a question mark for his dialogue and single quotes and an exclamation point for her dialogue. (Imagined and remembered dialogue both require quote marks, even if the speaker isn't present.)

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

All this sentence needs is a comma to denote where the speaker would naturally pause between "right" and "you." Note that sometimes, in fiction, a writer might not use a comma if she wants to indicate the words were said all at once, with no pause. Fiction writers get a little more leeway.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Interjections like "Warning!" usually require an exclamation point. Unless it is a query, in which case it would need a question mark.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Many people confuse "it's" and "its." The first is short for "it is," while the second is a possessive pronoun. So our turtle would "misplace its shell".

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

A diagonal, sometimes informally called a "slash," connects related concepts. Sometimes the relation is diametric opposites, like "and/or." The writer suggests both without having to choose one.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

The main issue here is single versus double quotes. Single quotes are reserved for a quotation within a quotation (at least, in American English). In this case, they stand in for italics, which should be used for titles of works if your word-processing software allows it.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Admittedly, in this case you need to know that "Help!" uses an exclamation point in the title itself. For readability's sake, no period follows the exclamation point and ending quote marks, even though the sentence is a statement.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Parentheses are used to mark "asides," bits of extraneous or interrupting information. They require simple parentheses, not brackets or French brackets.

Pick the sentence that, if taken from a transcript, is correctly punctuated:

Brackets are used to note an editor's or transcriber's note; they clearly say, "This is not part of the text." Brackets are never used in fiction, unless the writer is telling the story through official documents, like court transcripts.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Either an ellipsis or a dash would work here. It would depend on whether the teacher trailed off before calling out Miss Halverson (ellipsis), or whether he/she broke off abruptly (dash).

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

This is a typical case of how colons precede a list. If we'd started the sentence with "Our instructions were" there would be no need for a colon; the sentence would flow properly without it.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

The introductory, direct-address "O" is either archaic (found in older work) or ironic. You could use the modern spelling "Oh" and it'd work as well. Either way, it needs a comma to set off the opening phrase from the rest of the sentence.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Punctuation is often used to render a written sentence in the style it would be spoken. So if you're making this a quick, matter-of-fact statement, no comma is needed. If you want to draw dryly humorous attention to the word "indeed," you'd use the commas, replicating a pause in speech.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Here the hyphen tells us that "little-girl" is a compound adjective. Or, rather, that "little" applies to "girl", not directly to clothes (although "little-girl clothes" probably are small in their dimensions).

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Introductory phrases are usually set off with commas. A particulaly emphatic, longer phrase might use a colon, as in, "This is what you need to know about the tango: It's not an easy dance."

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Few people would choose the fourth option, but is not uncommon for people to fail to open or close a descriptive phrase. In that case, the commas must bracket each other. There can't be just one at beginning or end.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

In quoted dialogue or in fiction, writers will reflect a dropped "g" with an apostrophe. The above sentence requires both the apostrophe and a comma afterward. However, to fill in the "g" in brackets is unnecessary.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Dashes are commonly used to set off exclamations and queries within a sentence. A less vehement interruption might get away with just commas: "They wanted a whole screenplay written for, geez, five hundred dollars."

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Yes, it's classic old-movie dialogue. But if you're going to use it, punctuate it properly, by using the third choice.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Occasionally, you can't avoid repetition of a word. A comma provides clarity and makes clear the repetition wasn't just a typo.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

There's no end of confusion about this one. Although the name "Doris" ends with an "s", she is still a single person. Just like "Anne" becomes "Anne's," "Doris" becomes "Doris's."

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

You have a lot of flexibility in how you want to convey thoughts or internal dialogue. The important thing is that the reader understands what is being conveyed. The capital S helps in that regard.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

This is a tricky one because we need to make clear that Jack and Bill really were working as one team. The colon tells us we're about to see a list, and the use of "and" instead of a comma tells us that the two guys were working together.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

This is a simple statement. No question mark is needed, because "she" is not directly asking a question, even internally.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

This is a sentence fragment; it has no verb. The only option that makes sense is the question, in which the speaker might be repeating something that was just said, as a way of asking for confirmation or clarification.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Spelling aloud is represented by hyphens. Unless you're conveying that a someone spelling a word aloud is being very slow about it, like a spelling bee candidate -- in which case the ellipses might work better.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Sometimes a statement like this is really a question, requiring a question mark. But if it's rhetorical and quite vehement, you can use an exclamation point instead. The only choice that's flatly wrong is the unemotional period.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

The colon in this sentence indicates a list is to come. Then, the individual items in the list are set off with a comma-semicolon pair.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

We're used to a list following a colon, but it can also precede one. So can a dash or an ellipsis.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Often, a hyphen is used in a compound adjective for clarity. But when the first word in an adverb-adjective combination ends in "-ly," it's not considered necessary, as the suffix clearly indicates the relationship.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

In a sentence this short and simple, a comma suffices. We admit that it's a tricky example because the second "did" is "elided," as grammarians would say. The reader understands the meaning.

Pick the sentence that is correctly punctuated:

Because "submitted to the agency" is an essential part of the sentence, it should not be set off by commas. If the information in the clause was nonessential, it would take commas: "The report, which was very well-typed, was tabled for further discussion later."

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