HSPT Language Skills : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HSPT Language Skills

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Identify which one of the following sentences contains a punctuation error. Select “No Errors” if none of the sentences contains a punctuation error.

Possible Answers:

“What am I supposed to do now?” Sasha asked.

No Errors

Please don’t release any confetti until the party starts; we don't want to spoil the surprise!

The teacher told me “to go work on my homework” until recess.

Correct answer:

The teacher told me “to go work on my homework” until recess.

Explanation:

The sentence that contains the incorrect punctuation is shown below.

The teacher told me “to go work on my homework” until recess.

In this sentence, double quotation marks are incorrectly used to convey indirect speech. Indirect speech is any instance where what someone said is conveyed without being directly quoted. Consider the following correctly-punctuated sentence:

Samantha told me that she would be getting a kitten this weekend.

We do not need to use any quotation marks because we are not being told exactly what Samantha said to the speaker. She could have said "I'm getting a kitten this weekend!" or "I'm so excited that this weekend I'm going to be getting a kitten!", etc. The exact words that someone told someone else are conveyed using direct quotation, which requires double quotation marks, as demonstrated in the following sentence:

Samantha told me, "I can't concentrate today because I'm so excited—my family is adopting a kitten this weekend!"

In this sentence, the speaker is conveying Samantha's exact words, so we need to surround them with double quotation marks to set them apart from the rest of the sentence.

The correctly punctuated version of the correct answer choice sentence is as follows:

The teacher told me to go work on my homework until recess.

Example Question #2 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Identify which one of the following sentences contains a punctuation error. Select “No Errors” if none of the sentences contains a punctuation error.

Possible Answers:

"Who would call my phone in the middle of math class?" Sara wondered out loud as she walked down the hallway.

Fortunately, when I fell off my bike, I landed on a few soft things: a patch of tall grass, some flowers, and some moss.

No Errors

In order to identify the source of the noise Jenna stood up on the ladder to peer over the fence.

Correct answer:

In order to identify the source of the noise Jenna stood up on the ladder to peer over the fence.

Explanation:

The sentence that contains the punctuation error is "In order to identify the source of the noise Jenna stood up on the ladder to peer over the fence." This sentence begins with a prepositional phrase, "In order to identify the source of the noise." A comma is needed to separate this phrase from the rest of the sentence.

Note that this rule is specific to prepositional phrases that start sentences; if a prepositional phrase is used in the middle of a sentence or at the end of a sentence, it does not need to be separated from the sentence by commas unless the commas are required by some other grammatical rule. You can see that this is true in the sentence we're working with. The prepositional phrase "on the ladder," which appears in the middle of the sentence, is not set apart by commas. The prepositional phrase "over the fence," which ends the sentence, isn't preceded by a comma.

Adding in the necessary comma to this sentence, the corrected version would read, "In order to identify the source of the noise, Jenna stood up on the ladder to peer over the fence."

 

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

Please upgrade or download one of the following browsers to use Instant Tutoring: