TOEIC : Identifying punctuation errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for TOEIC

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

What is the best replacement for the underlined word?

The book was appealing because its contents were dazzlingly displayed on the front cover. 

Possible Answers:

it's 

it has 

it is 

No error

Correct answer:

No error

Explanation:

The correct answer is No error because "its" is the possessive form of it, and here we are talking about the cover of the book, and so it is correct to use "its" in the possessive sense. When used with an apostrophe, the word "it's" is a contraction meaning "it is" or "it has." This sentence is not trying to say it is or it has, and so the best choice is no error. 

Example Question #2 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Choose the correct revision for the following sentence.

The teams victory was well-deserved. 

Possible Answers:

The team's victory, was well-deserved. 

The team's victory was well-deserved. 

The teams victory, was well-deserved. 

The teams's victory was well-deserved. 

Correct answer:

The team's victory was well-deserved. 

Explanation:

The correct answer is "The team's victory was well-deserved." A team is a singular noun, and when it shows possession it requires an apostrophe s. The word "teams" without an apostrophe means multiple teams, which this sentence does not communicate. The word "teams's" is the possessive form of multiple teams.  There should not be a comma in the middle of this sentence since it is a simple sentence with one independent clause and no dependent clauses or modifiers. 

Example Question #3 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Choose the correct revision for the following sentence.

In 1929 the year the stock market crashed many people lost their jobs. 

Possible Answers:

In 1929 the year the stock market crashed, many people lost their jobs. 

No change

In 1929, the year the stock market crashed many people lost their jobs. 

In 1929, the year the stock market crashed, many people lost their jobs. 

Correct answer:

In 1929, the year the stock market crashed, many people lost their jobs. 

Explanation:

The correct answer is "In 1929, the year the stock market crashed, many people lost their jobs." This is correct because it sets off the non-essential clause "the year the stock market crashed" with commas. Since the sentence would still make sense without this information, it is considered non-essential, and always enclosed in commas when it occurs in the middle of a sentence. It is incorrect to omit one or both commas; both are necessary. 

Example Question #4 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Choose the correct revision for the following sentence.

I waited in line gave my tickets to the agent and boarded the plane. 

Possible Answers:

I waited in line gave my tickets to the agent, and boarded the plane. 

No change

I waited in line, gave my tickets to the agent, and boarded the plane.  

I waited in line, gave my tickets to the agent and boarded the plane. 

Correct answer:

I waited in line, gave my tickets to the agent, and boarded the plane.  

Explanation:

The correct answer is "I waited in line, gave my tickets to the agent, and boarded the plane."  This is because since we have a list of three items, we need to separate each item with a comma. One comma is incorrect, as is no commas. Leaving out the commas leads to confusion. 

Example Question #5 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Choose the correct revision for the following sentence.

I will go on a cruise, if I win the lottery

Possible Answers:

I will, go on a cruise, if I win the lottery. 

Ill go on a cruise if I win the lottery. 

I will go on a cruise if I win the lottery. 

I will go on a cruise if I have won the lottery. 

Correct answer:

I will go on a cruise if I win the lottery. 

Explanation:

The correct answer is, "I will go on a cruise if I win the lottery." There should not be commas in this sentence since the clause, "if I win the lottery" is essential to the meaning of the sentence. Without this clause, the sentence has a different meaning. The contraction for "I will" must have an apostrophe ("I'll"). We also need to be consistent with verb tense, which is why "I will go on a cruise if I have won the lottery " is incorrect. 

Example Question #6 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

James White has two dogs. One is a Newfoundland dog, and the other is a Scotch terrier. The Newfoundland is a large noble fellow. He is black, with a white spot, and with long, shaggy hair. His name is Sport.

Adapted from McGuffey's Second Eclectic Reader William Holmes McGuffey (1879)

Which of the following sentences from the passage contains a punctuation error?

Possible Answers:

His name is Sport

James White has two dogs

The Newfoundland is a large noble fellow

One is a Newfoundland dog, and the other is a Scotch terrier

Correct answer:

The Newfoundland is a large noble fellow

Explanation:

The correct answer is "The Newfoundland is a large noble fellow." This sentence is punctuated incorrectly because when there are two adjectives in a list, they should be separated with a comma. This sentence should read, "The Newfoundland is a large, noble fellow." All of the other choices are punctuated correctly. 

Example Question #7 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Which of the following sentences contains an error in punctuation?

 

Possible Answers:

(no error)

"Please come look at this immediately, Harry!"

"Harry please come look at this immediately!"

"Harry, please come look at this immediately!"

Correct answer:

"Harry please come look at this immediately!"

Explanation:

The correct answer is "Harry please come look at this immediately!" This sentence is incorrect because it lacks a comma after the name, Harry. Since the speaker is addressing him, his name needs to be set off from the rest of the sentence with a comma.

Example Question #8 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Which of the following sentences contains an error in punctuation?

Possible Answers:

When I was in second grade, I broke my arm. 

When I was in second grade I broke my arm. 

I broke my arm when I was in second grade. 

I fell on the playground, and I broke my arm. 

Correct answer:

When I was in second grade I broke my arm. 

Explanation:

The correct answer is, "When I was in second grade I broke my arm." This sentence is incorrectly punctuated because it lacks a comma after the word grade. When a sentence begins with a dependent clause, such as "when I was in second grade," it requires a comma to set it apart from the independent clause. If the dependent clause comes second in the sentence, it does not require a comma. The other choices are correctly punctuated. 

Example Question #9 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Which of the following sentences contains an error in punctuation?

Possible Answers:

Elephants my favorite animals are in danger of extinction. 

Elephants are in danger of extinction. 

Elephants, my favorite animals, are in danger of extinction.

Elephants are my favorite animals, but the are in danger of extinction. 

Correct answer:

Elephants my favorite animals are in danger of extinction. 

Explanation:

The correct answer is "Elephants my favorite animals are in danger of extinction." This sentence is incorrectly punctuated because the phrase "my favorite animals" is a non-essential clause that appears in the middle of the sentence, so it needs to be set off with two commas. Since there are no commas in the sentence, it is incorrect. The other sentences are all punctuated correctly. 

Example Question #10 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Which of the following sentences contains an error in punctuation?

Possible Answers:

Mary please stop hitting your brother. 

Please stop hitting your brother. 

Mary, please stop hitting your brother. 

Please stop hitting your brother, Mary. 

Correct answer:

Mary please stop hitting your brother. 

Explanation:

The correct answer is "Mary stop hitting your brother." This sentence is contains an error in punctuation because the name Mary needs to be followed by a comma. Whenever someone is being directly addressed, and their name is used, the writer needs to separate the name with a comma. The other answer choices are correctly punctuated. 

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