Review Exercise: Using Commas and Semicolons Correctly

Punctuating a Paragraph About Pasta

This exercise offers practice in applying the rules for using commas and semicolons correctly. Before attempting the exercise, you may find it helpful to review these three pages:

Throughout the following two paragraphs, you will find a number of empty paired brackets: [ ]. Replace each set of brackets with a comma or a semicolon, keeping in mind that the primary use of a semicolon is to separate two main clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction.

When you are done, compare your work with the correctly punctuated versions of the two paragraphs on page two.


Exercise: Pasta

Pasta[ ] a large family of shaped[ ] dried wheat pastes[ ] is a basic staple in many countries. Its origins are obscure. Rice pastes were known very early in China[ ] pastes made of wheat were used in India and Arabia long before they were introduced into Europe in the 11th or 12th century. According to legend[ ] Marco Polo brought a pasta recipe with him from Asia in 1295. Pasta quickly became a major element in the Italian diet[ ] and its use spread throughout Europe.

Pasta is made from durum wheat flour[ ] which makes a strong[ ] elastic dough. Hard durum wheat has the highest wheat protein value. The flour is mixed with water[ ] kneaded to form a thick paste[ ] and then forced through perforated plates or dies that shape it into one of more than 100 different forms.

The macaroni die is a hollow tube with a steel pin in its center[ ] the spaghetti die lacks the steel pin and produces a solid cylinder of paste. Ribbon pasta is made by forcing the paste through thin slits in a die[ ] shells and other curved shapes are produced with more intricate dies. The shaped dough is dried carefully to reduce the moisture content to about 12 percent[ ] and properly dried pasta should remain edible almost indefinitely.

Pastas can be colored with spinach or beet juice. The addition of egg produces a richer[ ] yellower pasta that is usually made in noodle form and is often sold undried.

When you are done, compare your work with the correctly punctuated versions of the two paragraphs on page two.

Here are the two paragraphs that served as the model for the punctuation exercise on page one.

Original Paragraphs: Pasta

Pasta, a large family of shaped, dried wheat pastes, is a basic staple in many countries. Its origins are obscure. Rice pastes were known very early in China; pastes made of wheat were used in India and Arabia long before they were introduced into Europe in the 11th or 12th century.

According to legend, Marco Polo brought a pasta recipe with him from Asia in 1295. Pasta quickly became a major element in the Italian diet, and its use spread throughout Europe.

Pasta is made from durum wheat flour, which makes a strong, elastic dough. Hard durum wheat has the highest wheat protein value. The flour is mixed with water, kneaded to form a thick paste, and then forced through perforated plates or dies that shape it into one of more than 100 different forms. The macaroni die is a hollow tube with a steel pin in its center; the spaghetti die lacks the steel pin and produces a solid cylinder of paste. Ribbon pasta is made by forcing the paste through thin slits in a die; shells and other curved shapes are produced with more intricate dies. The shaped dough is dried carefully to reduce the moisture content to about 12 percent, and properly dried pasta should remain edible almost indefinitely.

Pastas can be colored with spinach or beet juice. The addition of egg produces a richer, yellower pasta that is usually made in noodle form and is often sold undried.