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Banish comma confusion for good: Take this comma quiz

comma

If commas confuse you, you’re not alone.

Like many writers, you might play a guessing game: I’m pretty sure that’s right, you might think, as you pop a comma somewhere in a sentence.

Or echoes of English teachers ring in your ears: Use a comma where you naturally pause, whispers Mrs.O’Leary or Mr. Radnor.

But your pause and your reader’s pause don’t always match up. And words strung together or separated randomly can cause reader confusion and clicks of the back button.

No guessing is required to use a comma correctly; you just have to learn a few rules.

If you want to improve your writing—your style, your voice, your rhythm—comma confidence will set you free. Plus, understanding the sentence structure underlying each comma rule helps you vary your sentences and make them more interesting.

Get confident with your commas once and for all. Take this comma quiz and find out where you stand!

Instructions:

  • Each item contains four sentences. Of the four, one sentence is correct with all commas correctly placed or no commas. Choose the sentence that is the best choice among the four.
  • You may change your response at any time before clicking “Show Results” at the end.
  • The corresponding rule for each sentence type is discussed in The Simple Writing Writer’s Guide. (If you don’t have a copy, grab one by clicking on the link—it’s free.) The rules are in Part Two: Step Two. Take some time to look up each item you aren’t sure of.
  • These comma rules are standard except one: the “Oxford” comma. I follow the The Chicago Manual of Style, and that means I use (and recommend) a comma after the last item in a series. The AP Stylebook does not require the last comma. If you don’t know what that’s all about, don’t worry. Just take a look at #8 in The Writer’s Guide.
  • One item has two possible correct responses, and either one is fine.
  • You can earn a maximum of 105 points.

One more thing! This is the first time I’ve used this quiz plugin, and it looks fine on most browsers I tested. I’m seeing some loss of spacing on a few, however. If you have any problems, I’d love it if you could let me know.

Good luck. And if you like it, share it!

Take the quiz!

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8 comments… add one
  • The quiz worked great. I got all but one right, which I had marked the right one on #20, but then I changed it. My instinct was telling me the last answer was correct, but I went with the other one. But, nice test. It’s nice to know that I have some knowledge when it comes to sentence structure!

    Reply
    • Great–glad it’s working right. And good job! Those aren’t the easiest sentences, either. Thanks!

      Reply
  • This. Was. So. Humiliating. If word of my score gets out, my reputation as a spelling, grammar and punctuation Nazi will be history.

    (Hope I got the commas right in that last sentence…)
    Jeroen van Baardwijk recently posted…Ashes to Ashes, Dust to DustMy Profile

    Reply
    • Hey Jeroen,

      You didn’t do that bad at all! And you can take the quiz as many times as you like. Check the Writer’s Guide and the corresponding rules and go for it. Keep your crown 😀

      And if you mean the sentence in your comment, it’s fine. I recommend a comma after “grammar,” but it’s a matter of preferred style (I’m Chicago and you’re AP–meh 🙂

      Reply
  • Worked great! I received 80 out of 105 points. I even chose the correct sentence in the long and convoluted sentence which, while going through my results, I realized I could have avoided altogether. 🙂 Thanks for the challenge!
    Sherrey Meyer recently posted…11 Writing Tips from Henry MillerMy Profile

    Reply
    • Bravo! Thanks for letting me know. And great job on that long one. In academia, it’s a fine sentence. Anywhere else, forget it. Glad you can see my sense of humor 😀

      Reply
  • Love that quote from “Space Oddity!”

    Reply
    • LOL! I forgot about that. Glad you liked it! Maybe I’ll do another quiz with song lyrics–and bonus points for anyone who can name the song and artist 🙂

      Reply

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