SAT Writing : Correcting Quotation Mark Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Question #2 : Quotation Mark Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

“I can’t believe he ate the entire cake,” she said, “Can you?”

Possible Answers:

cake,” she said. “Can you?”

cake.” She said. “Can you?”

cake” she said “Can you?”

cake” she said, “Can you?”

cake,” she said, “Can you?”

Correct answer:

cake,” she said. “Can you?”

Explanation:

Double quotation marks are conventionally used to indicate speech, and commas are conventionally used inside the quotation marks to separate a line of speech from its subsequent dialogue tag. Because “‘Can you?’” is a separate sentence from “‘I can’t believe he ate the entire cake,’ she said,’” there must be a period after “she said” to separate the two sentences.

Example Question #8 : Correcting Quotation Mark Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

“Why does your so-called ‘fact sheet’ list obvious fallacies,” she asked?

Possible Answers:

“Why does your so-called ‘fact sheet’ list obvious fallacies”? she asked.

“Why does your so-called ‘fact sheet’ list obvious fallacies?” she asked.

“Why does your so-called ‘fact sheet’ list obvious fallacies,” she asked?

“Why does your so-called “fact sheet” list obvious fallacies,” she asked?

“Why does your so-called “fact sheet” list obvious fallacies?” she asked.

Correct answer:

“Why does your so-called ‘fact sheet’ list obvious fallacies?” she asked.

Explanation:

Double quotation marks are conventionally used to indicate speech, and question marks are conventionally used inside the quotation marks to indicate the end of an interrogative sentence. Double quotation marks (without commas) are also conventionally used to indicate skepticism about a word or term, as with “fact sheet” here. However, because “fact sheet” is already within a set of double quotation marks, single quotation marks must be used.

Example Question #4 : Quotation Mark Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Did she say, "I'll take the car?"

Possible Answers:

Did she say, "I'll take the car."

Did she say, "I'll take the car?"

Did she say, "I'll take the car"?

Did she say, "I'll take the car."? 

Did she say "I'll take the car"?

Correct answer:

Did she say, "I'll take the car"?

Explanation:

This question is asking whether or not a phrase was said, and that phrase itself is not a question. If a question ends with a quoted statement that is not a question, the question mark will go outside the closing quotation mark.

Example Question #4 : Quotation Mark Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the underlined choices repeats the answer as it is written. 

"What if the lost puppy really does belong to Jane," we thought as we drove to the veterinarian. 

Possible Answers:

"What if the lost puppy really does belong to Jane,"

"What if the lost puppy really does belong to Jane"?

"What if the lost puppy really does belong to Jane?"

"What if the lost puppy really does belong to Jane"

"What if the lost puppy really does belong to Jane",

Correct answer:

"What if the lost puppy really does belong to Jane?"

Explanation:

The error in this sentence comes from the fact that the underlined phrase is a question and therefore should end with a question mark, even when it is inside double quotation marks; therefore, the correct answer is "What if the lost puppy really does below to Jane?"

Example Question #5 : Quotation Mark Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the underlined choices repeats the answer as it is written. 

"I don't believe you really wanted to drop the cake," Elena said, "In fact, I think it was totally an accident."

Possible Answers:

said, "In fact, I think it was totally an accident." 

said - "In fact, I think it was totally an accident." 

said; "In fact, I think it was totally an accident." 

said. "In fact, I think it was totally an accident." 

said? "In fact, I think it was totally an accident." 

Correct answer:

said. "In fact, I think it was totally an accident." 

Explanation:

The error in this sentence is the incorrect punctuation used to separate Elena's first sentence from her second sentence. Since both sentences are complete thoughts, we should change the comma after "said" to a period ("said. 'In fact, I think it was totally an accident.'")

Example Question #1 : Correcting Quotation Mark Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence. 

"The phrase is actually count your lucky stars, not count your lucky star," Allan said.

Possible Answers:

"The phrase is actually 'count your lucky stars,' not 'count your lucky star,'" Allan said. 

"The phrase is actually "count your lucky stars," not "count your lucky star,"" Allan said. 

"The phrase is actually count your lucky stars, not 'count your lucky star,'" Allan said. 

"The phrase is actually 'count your lucky stars,' not count your lucky star," Allan said. 

"The phrase is actually count your lucky stars, not count your lucky star," Allan said. 

Correct answer:

"The phrase is actually 'count your lucky stars,' not 'count your lucky star,'" Allan said. 

Explanation:

Double quotation marks are normally used around a word or phrase to discuss that word or phrase in speech; however, when such a word or phrase appears in a sentence that is already within double quotation marks (e.g. direct quotes), we offset that word or phrase from the rest of the sentence with single quotation marks. Therefore, both "count your lucky stars" and "count your lucky star" should appear within single quotation marks in the above sentence ('count your lucky stars' and 'count your lucky star').

Example Question #2 : Correcting Quotation Mark Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Kenny told us all that "he was sick and couldn't hang out today," but we saw him just a couple of hours later at the movies with Jane. 

Possible Answers:

he was sick and couldn't hang out today;

he was sick and couldn't hang out today,

'he was sick and couldn't hang out today,'

"he was sick and couldn't hang out today,"

"he was sick and couldn't hang out today"

Correct answer:

he was sick and couldn't hang out today,

Explanation:

In the sentence above, what Kenny said is an indirect quotation and therefore does not require any quotation marks, double or single.

Example Question #3 : Correcting Quotation Mark Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

"Richard was right to call and tell us you were throwing a party while we were gone," Mom said, "That's why you're grounded for the rest of the week."

Possible Answers:

said—"That's why you're grounded for the rest of the week."

said. "That's why you're grounded for the rest of the week."

said; "That's why you're grounded for the rest of the week."

said "That's why you're grounded for the rest of the week."

said, "That's why you're grounded for the rest of the week."

Correct answer:

said. "That's why you're grounded for the rest of the week."

Explanation:

The current form of the sentence uses incorrect punctuation to separate Mom's first sentence from her second. We can replace the comma with a period to make connection between the sentences grammatically correct ("said. 'That's why you're grounded for the rest of the week.'").

Example Question #4 : Correcting Quotation Mark Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

"Oh, I don't really like the way Tom's been behaving, she sighed. "I wish he would grow up."

Possible Answers:

Oh, I don't really like the way Tom's been behaving, she sighed.

"Oh, I don't really like the way Tom's been behaving", she sighed.

"Oh, I don't really like the way Tom's been behaving, she sighed.

"Oh, I don't really like the way Tom's been behaving," she sighed.

"Oh, I don't really like the way Tom's been behaving, she sighed!"

Correct answer:

"Oh, I don't really like the way Tom's been behaving," she sighed.

Explanation:

With quotation marks, you want to place them before the first word of the quotation, and then immediately after the final punctuation of the quotation. Therefore, the best way to construct the phrase in the first part of the sentence is "'Oh, I don't really like the way Tom's been behaving,' she sighed." Please note that the comma at the end of the phrase "Tom's been behaving," is correctly contained within the quotation marks.

Example Question #5 : Correcting Quotation Mark Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The child screamed at the top of her lungs, I hate it here and I want to go home.

Possible Answers:

The child screamed at the top of her lungs, "I hate it here" and I want to go home.

The child screamed at the top of her lungs, "I hate it here and I want to go home"

The child screamed at the top of her lungs: I hate it here and I want to go home.

The child screamed at the top of her lungs, "I hate it here and I want to go home!" 

The child screamed at the top of her lungs, I hate it here and I want to go home.

Correct answer:

The child screamed at the top of her lungs, "I hate it here and I want to go home!" 

Explanation:

When quoting speech, the quotation marks should precede the first word of the quotation and also follow the final punctuation of the quotation. Therefore, the correct version of this sentence reads: "The child screamed, at the top of her lungs, 'I hate it here and I want to go home!'" The interrupting phrase "at the top of her lungs" may be confusing, but it does not grammatically alter the sentence.

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