Check Your Knowledge: Punctuation Practice

boy lost in the woods
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This exercise offers practice in applying the basic guidelines for using punctuation marks

In the following paragraph, insert commas, quotation marks, colons, and dashes wherever you think they belong. (Try reading the paragraph aloud: at least in some cases, you should be able to hear where punctuation is needed.) When you're done, compare your work with the correctly punctuated version of the paragraph at the bottom of the page.

Lost in the Witchcrafted Woods

I'll never forget summer camp two weeks of cramps and campfires and slugs in my underwear. One night I got lost in the woods the witchcrafted spine-tingling woods. I don't know how I managed to get lost one moment I was marching along with my fellow scouts and the next I was marching alone. When I realized what had happened I responded like a true Boy Scout of America I sat down on a toadstool and sobbed. Oh I knew I was going to die out there. I waited for the gnats that sew your lips shut the owls that peck out your eyes the spiders that drop eggs on your tongue and the wolves that drag your carcass to their dens. I knew that by the time they found me there would be nothing left of me but my neckerchief slide. I imagined them taping it to a postcard and mailing it home to my dad. When I ran out of tears I started singing Oh, they built the ship Titanic to sail the ocean blue.

And just then a flashlight found me. My patrol leader asked what I was doing out here in the woods and I spit on my palms and said Don't worry about me. I can take care of myself. That night I dreamed of dragons in the pines and I woke up screaming.

Lost in the Witchcrafted Woods: Punctuation Restored

I'll never forget summer camp: two weeks of cramps and campfires and slugs in my underwear.

One night I got lost in the woods—the witchcrafted, spine-tingling woods. I don't know how I managed to get lost: one moment I was marching along with my fellow scouts, and the next I was marching alone. When I realized what had happened, I responded like a true Boy Scout of America: I sat down on a toadstool and sobbed. Oh, I knew I was going to die out there. I waited for the gnats that sew your lips shut, the owls that peck out your eyes, the spiders that drop eggs on your tongue, and the wolves that drag your carcass to their dens. I knew that by the time they found me there would be nothing left of me but my neckerchief slide. I imagined them taping it to a postcard and mailing it home to my dad. When I ran out of tears, I started singing, "Oh, they built the ship Titanic to sail the ocean blue." And just then a flashlight found me. My patrol leader asked what I was doing out here in the woods, and I spit on my palms and said, "Don't worry about me. I can take care of myself." That night I dreamed of dragons in the pines, and I woke up screaming.