SAT Writing : Identifying Quotation Mark Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Identifying Quotation Mark Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Liam told his study group that "he needed to take a break from studying," so the group's members all decided to get sandwiches before beginning to take notes on the textbook's next chapter. No error

Possible Answers:

the textbook's

before beginning to take notes on

"he needed to take a break from studying,"

No error

the group's members

Correct answer:

"he needed to take a break from studying,"

Explanation:

This sentence incorrectly uses quotation marks to set off an indirect quotation from the sentence when no quotation marks are needed. If the sentence said "Liam told his study group, 'I need to take a break from studying,'" then quotation marks would be necessary. However, because the sentence is indirectly telling us what Liam said, and not giving us his exact words, no quotation marks are needed.  Removing the quotation marks around "he needed to take a break from studying" would correct the sentence's error.

Example Question #2 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Other Punctuation

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

"Help me lift this", she whispered, knowing the request would be her last if she were overheard. No error

Possible Answers:

would be

No error

this", she

me

were

Correct answer:

this", she

Explanation:

Punctuation always goes inside the quotation marks in American English.

Example Question #119 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Other Punctuation

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all. 

Once Daniel told us that "he was going into the cabin to pick up his guitar," we knew we were about to have a great night around the campfire. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

Once Daniel

"he was going into the cabin to pick up his guitar,"

were about to

around

Correct answer:

"he was going into the cabin to pick up his guitar,"

Explanation:

The sentences uses quotation marks for an indirect quotation from Daniel when no quotation marks are needed. Only direct quotations require quotation marks in sentences like these. 

Example Question #2 : Identifying Quotation Mark Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all. 

"I don't understand this at all!", Jose yelled in frustration as he crumbled up his Chemistry homework. No error

Possible Answers:

all!", Jose

crumbled up

No error

Chemistry

in frustration

Correct answer:

all!", Jose

Explanation:

Jose's direct quote ends with an exclamation point, so the quote does not require a comma to separate it from the rest of the sentence.

Example Question #3 : Identifying Quotation Mark Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all. 

"The Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria were the three ships Columbus used on his voyage to America", Sarah proclaimed confidently. No error

Possible Answers:

used

confidently

America", Sarah

No error

were

Correct answer:

America", Sarah

Explanation:

Placing the comma outside of the end quotation marks in a direct quote is incorrect in American English. The comma should immediately follow "America" in the above sentence. 

Example Question #4 : Identifying Quotation Mark Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

“Did you see where that dog went, and can you help me follow it,” she cried. No error

Possible Answers:

cried.

No error

went,

it,"

where

Correct answer:

it,"

Explanation:

Because the sentence inside the quotation marks is a question, it must be punctuated with a question mark. This question mark should appear inside the quotation marks, as follows: “Did you see where that dog went, and can you help me follow it?”

Example Question #5 : Identifying Quotation Mark Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

“I’d love to go to the game with you,” his girlfriend said, “but first you’ll have to lend me money for the tickets.” No error

Possible Answers:

"but first

No error

"I'd

you,"

said,

Correct answer:

No error

Explanation:

This sentence is perfectly punctuated. Because the sentence of speech is broken up in the middle with a dialogue tag, commas are used after “you” and after “said” to set off that dialogue tag. (If the spoken part was two sentences long, however, you would have to use a period after “said” and a capital B for “but,” since you would be starting a new sentence after the dialogue tag.)

Example Question #6 : Identifying Quotation Mark Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

I’ve told my coworkers over and over that they must “remember to wash their hands” after handling money, but they always seem to forget. No error

Possible Answers:

money,

No error

they

over and over

"remember to wash their hands"

Correct answer:

"remember to wash their hands"

Explanation:

Quotation marks should only be used to set off direct speech from the rest of a sentence. In this case, the speaker is recalling what he or she usually tells his or her coworkers, and he or she is doing so using indirect speech. Indirect speech never requires quotation marks, so there should be no quotation marks in this sentence.

Example Question #7 : Identifying Quotation Mark Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Anna said to her mother, “I wish you’d saved your old wedding dress so I could wear it during my own ceremony.” No error

Possible Answers:

ceremony."

mother,

dress so

No error

"I

Correct answer:

No error

Explanation:

This sentence is properly punctuated and contains no errors. Because the sentence is using direct speech—in other words, it’s recounting exactly what Anna said to her mother—quotation marks and a comma are necessary to offset the direct speech from the rest of the sentence.

Example Question #8 : Identifying Quotation Mark Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Can you tell me where the cupcake shop is?”, she asked the kindly old man, her stomach rumbling with hunger. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

Can

kindly

her stomach rumbling with hunger.

is?",

Correct answer:

is?",

Explanation:

Because the sentence inside the quotation marks is a question and already contains a punctuation mark, the comma that appears immediately after the quotation marks is redundant. Only the question mark (properly placed inside the quotation marks) is necessary.

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