Major Works and Minor Works Quiz With Answers

Major Works and Minor Works Quiz With Answers

M is for MAJOR WORKS AND MINOR WORKS!



Are you as ready to move on from this topic as I am? With teaching it to one hundred students last week and writing about it here several times, I am just about “major and minored” out! However, we can’t leave such a misunderstood topic without a quiz!

So here you go…..Decide in each sentence provide whether the title is a major work or minor work. (Answers below.)




1. I used the encyclopedia essay titled Mammals for my report.

2. I just got a new cd called Ballads for the Ballroom. (That sounds like a good idea–I should do that!)

3. Have you ever read the book The Red Badge of Courage?

4. My favorite dance song on my new cd is Could I Have This Dance?

5. She assigned five chapters this week, starting with Non-Essential Information. (You guess it, LL readers–that is what we are going to study this week on here!)

6. They said we could consult Wikipedia, but we aren’t allowed to cite it.

7. Our new favorite boxed television show is Person of Interest.

8. I haven’t received a Reader’s Digest magazine in years.

9. My favorite composition series is Meaningful Composition.

10. I am using their bonus book right now, called The SAT Essay and Other Timed Writing.



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ANSWERS! Major Works are shown with Italics; Minor Works are shown with quotation marks. Explanations are in parentheses following each sentence.

1. I used the encyclopedia essay titled, “Mammals,” for my report. (Encyclopedia essay title is a Minor Work--found within the encyclopedia, whose title is a Major Work.)

2. I just got a new cd called Ballads for the Ballroom. (Musical compilation titles are Major Works–the song titles on/in the compilation are Minor Works.)

3. Have you ever read the book The Red Badge of Courage? (Book titles are Major Works–the chapter titles within the book are Minor Works.)

4. My favorite dance song on my new cd is “Could I Have This Dance?” (Song titles are Minor Works–the title of the songbook or cd that contains the song is the Major Work.)

5. She assigned five chapters this week, starting with “Non-Essential Information.” (Chapter titles are Minor Works–the title of the book containing the chapters is the Major Work.)

6. They said we could consult Wikipedia, but we aren’t allowed to cite it. 
(Encyclopedia titles are Major Works–the titles of the essays within the encyclopedia are Minor Works.)

7. Our new favorite boxed television show is Person of Interest. (Television show titles are Major Works–the titles of the scenes or chapters within the program are Minor Works.)

8. I haven’t received a Reader’s Digest magazine in years. (Magazine or journal titles are Major Works–the titles of the articles within the magazine/journal are Minor Works.)

9. My favorite composition series is Meaningful Composition
(Book titles are Major Works–the chapters within the book are Minor Works.)

10. I am using their bonus book right now, called The SAT Essay and Other Timed Writing. (Book titles are Major Works–the chapters within the book are Minor Works.)

Q and A: Colons

Q and A: Colons

“Sometimes I see colons used before quotes; other times I see them used before lists. Which is correct? How do I know when a colon is the right punctuation mark?”

Just taught this yesterday to a dozen kids preparing for the SAT–and I’ll be teaching it again tomorrow to a dozen more who are preparing for the SAT. I will tell you what I told them:

1. You want to learn how to use colons. That skill will make you look smart since so few people know how to use them properly!

2. You should always have a complete sentence on the left side of the colon:

a. This means that it CAN be used following a speech tag (before your quoted words) IF the speech tag is a complete sentence:

      i. Yes: HE SPOKE WORDS OF COMFORT: “You can get through this. You are strong. I know you can make it.” (Words on the left of the colon could stand alone; you could place a period there, and it would be a real, complete sentence.)

    ii. No: HE SAID: “You can get through this. You are strong. I know you can make it.”

b. This means that it CAN be used to introduce a list IF the introduction to the list is a complete sentence:

     i. Yes: I NEED SEVERAL THINGS FROM THE STORE: milk, bread, eggs, and bananas.

     ii. No: I NEED TO GET: milk, bread, eggs, and bananas.

c. This means that it CAN be used to ask a rhetorical question IF the words preceding the colon make up a complete sentence:

  i. Yes: WE LOOKED FOR HIM EVERYWHERE: suddenly he appeared!

  ii. No: WE LOOKED AND: suddenly he appeared!

3. A colon should NEVER follow two types+ of words:

a. An action verb used as an action verb. No: SHE WANTED US TO GIVE: money, time, and household goods.

b. A preposition used as a preposition: No: SHE ASKED US TO: come early, stay late, and work non-stop.

+When a sentence ends in an action verb or a preposition, that word usually makes the sentence into a non-sentence (i.e. you can’t put a period there and call it a real sentence): She asked us to.

4. Colon use is often subjective in technical writing, such as text books, blogs (!), and other places where they are used to teach or expound upon topics in list form, etc.

PUNCTUATION PUZZLE: Commas and Periods With Quotation Marks

Okay…here is another Punctuation Puzzle for you to solve! Try to figure out where punctuation marks should go–before you look below at the answers/explanations! Smile…

I read the magazine article titled “Baby Games” and I read an encyclopedia essay called “Baby Showers”

Okay….are you ready?

Proper punctuation of that sentence is as follows:

I read the magazine article titled “Baby Games,” and I read an encyclopedia essay called “Baby Showers.”



Here is why the punctuation is the way it is:

1. “Baby Games” is the title of a magazine article; an article is a minor work (a work within a work–in this case, an article within a magazine). Minor works are shown by surrounding the title in quotation marks.

                           I read the magazine article titled “Baby Games,”



2. You need a comma before the AND because this sentence is a compound sentence (Complete Sentence {CS}, and Complete Sentence {CS}). One way you can combine two sentences into one to create a compound sentence is to use a comma-coordinating conjunction (,cc–,for/,and/,nor/,but/,or/,yet/,so). Always test to see if you are really creating a compound by reading each “half” of the sentence by itself–and ask yourself if it could stand alone.

                          I read the article titled “Baby Games,” and I read an encyclopedia essay called “Baby Showers.”

3.  In the US, a comma ALWAYS goes inside a closing quotation mark (whether it is part of the quoted material or not). (This is not the case in British writings.)

                         “Baby Games,”



4. “Baby Showers” is the title of an encyclopedia essay; an essay is a minor work (a work within a work–in this case, an essay within an encyclopedia). Minor works are shown by surrounding the title in quotation marks.

                    “Baby Showers.”




5.  In the US, a period ALWAYS goes inside a closing quotation mark (whether it is part of the quoted material or not). (This is not the case in British writings.)

                      “Baby Showers.”

*Picture from http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/x/jigsaw-puzzle-punctuation-marks-28310853.jpg

The Comma and the “Unofficial” Speech Tag

A comma or not following an “unofficial” speech tag? When you write a true opening speech tag (he said, she responded, he asked), you need a comma separating it from your quoted words:

She said, “I love to write Language Lady blog posts.”

However, if you write an “unofficial” opening speech tag (According to Websters Dictionary, kindness is or Kindness can be defined as), do not place a comma before your quoted words. 

According to Webster’s Dictionary, kindness is “an act of compassion.”

Kindness can be defined as “an act of compassion.”

The “official” rule on this is that other than true speech tags with quoted material following, you can not use a comma between a verb and its object or a preposition and its object:

NOT: According to Webster’s Dictionary, kindness is, “an act of compassion.” That would be a comma between the verb is and its object (predicate nominative in this case…) 

NOT: Kindness can be defined as, “an act of compassion.” That would be a comma between the preposition as and its object (a phrasal object in this case). 

day 117: commas and periods inside ending quotation marks


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If you are an avid reader, and especially if you are an avid reader of British literature, you may find yourself being led astray in the whole “commas and periods inside or outside of ending quotation mark” quandary.  Why? Because British usage is different than American usage when it comes to this little rule.

The first rule that we teach in our writing books about quotation marks is this: Commas and periods ALWAYS go inside the final quotation mark:
  1. She said, “Let’s go now.”
  2. “Let’s go now,” she said.
  3. He was reading the article, “Baby Geniuses.”
  4. He was reading the article, “Baby Geniuses,” and he lost track of time.
Regardless of the reason for the quotation  mark use (i.e. for a quote in 1 and 2 above or to show a minor work {article title} in 3 and 4), the ending period and comma always go inside the final quotation mark in US usage.
The reason that you might see it differently could be that you are reading a British author. (British usage bases the placement of the comma and period inside or outside of the quotation mark on whether the period/comma is part of the quoted material, like US grammar does for question marks and exclamation marks.) Or, it could be an error—I see this error more often than any other one error.
So remember this for you American writers/students: Periods and commas ALWAYS go inside the final quotation mark—never on the outside, regardless of the use in the sentence.

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