ACT English : Appositive Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Appositive Errors

My boss John Jacobs was early that morning, so I got in trouble for being late.

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

My boss, John Jacobs was early that morning,

My boss John Jacobs, was early that morning

My Boss John Jacobs was early that morning, 

My boss, John Jacobs, was early that morning, 

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

My boss, John Jacobs, was early that morning, 

Explanation:

In this sentence, "John Jacobs" is an appositive renaming the noun phrase "My boss" in more detail. As such, "John Jacobs" needs to be bracketed in commas because it is extraneous information not necessary to the reader's understanding of the sentence's meaning.

Example Question #2 : Appositive Errors

“John Adams—A Forgotten American Founder”

Sadly, the great exploits of important men and women is often forgotten in the mists of history.  The myths and historical tales of a nation can lead the people to forget some of their most important founders and national heroes.  In the United States of America, this kind of forgetfulness has occurred in the case of the Founding Father, John Adams.  For a number of reasons, President Adams had been forgotten.  Recounting the tales of the nations’ founding, many remember figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.  However, during those early years of the republic, Adams was a pivotal figure in assuring independence to the burgeoning nation.

During the debates concerning the Declaration of Independence, Adams was something of a “chief orator,” tirelessly attempting to convince the gathered parties of the importance of declaring independence from England.  Adams a temperamental and passionate man, was the perfect person to fill such a role.  In contrast to the judicious Franklin and the controlled and quiet Jefferson, he was fit for performing such oratorical shows and bombasts.  Although he joined Jefferson and Franklin on the drafting committee for the declaration, his most important work during this time was arguably this long project of oratory.

In addition, many forget the lonely years Adams spent as a minister to France and as the first minister to England.  What a difficult affair such posts would have been at the time.  As the minister to France, what weight could he have had with the court of such an old European nation?  Furthermore, Adams was not temperamentally suited for French courtly customs being a stern and somewhat moralistic man.  Then, to be sent to England—how difficult that must have been.  As the minister on behalf of a once-rebel nation, how could he stand before the Court of King James?  Nevertheless, Adams served his post nobly and deserves great recognition for this devoted service to his young nation.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded and underlined portion of the passage. If the bolded and underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

Adams a temperamental and passionate man, had been the perfect person to fill such a role.

Adams a temperamental and passionate man was the perfect person to fill such a role.

Adams, a temperamental, and passionate man were the perfect person to fill such a role.

Adams, a temperamental and passionate man, was the perfect person to fill such a role.

Correct answer:

Adams, a temperamental and passionate man, was the perfect person to fill such a role.

Explanation:

In this sentence, "Adams" is in apposition to "a temperamental and passionate man." These two words refer to the same "thing" (to the same person, that is—John Adams). Whenever you have an apposition like this, you need to surround the second expression (or word if it is only a word) with commas. As written, the first comma (directly after Adams) is missing.

Example Question #2 : Appositive Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Jackson stayed after class to help Ms. Thomas clean the room, feeling guilty for having caused the mess.

Possible Answers:

Jackson stayed after class to help Ms. Thomas clean the room; feeling guilty for helping to cause the mess.

Jackson, feeling guilty for having caused the mess, stayed after class to help Ms. Thomas clean the room.

NO CHANGE

Jackson stayed after class to help Ms. Thomas clean the room: feeling guilty for helping to cause the mess.

Correct answer:

Jackson, feeling guilty for having caused the mess, stayed after class to help Ms. Thomas clean the room.

Explanation:

Appositives modify the noun directly before them. With this structure, it is saying that the room feels guilty for helping to cause the mess even though the appositive is talking about Jackson.

Example Question #3 : Appositive Errors

Growing up, I used to find math very tedious. I abhorred algebra, couldn't stand geometry, and 1. was just hating trigonometry. I was sure calculus would be no different. 2. That was until I met, my calculus teacher, Ms. Sweed. 3. Calculus being the subject she taught, she used it to show me how 4. math makes our world go around. 

5.Ms. Sweed was very educated, having two master’s and a PhD. 6. I can still remember one day that she talked to me after class after one of the first tests we took in class I had done not as well as I had wanted. When I went to talk to her after class, she told me that she thought I was very smart and could do better if I tried. I began to come to talk to her after class every day for extra study. 7. She only used these extra sessions to not help me understand the math, but showed how math can be used to apply to real life. She showed how math could be used to explain many natural phenomena. 8. However, she showed how math can be used to analyze patterns from studies. I never thought I would say math was my favorite subject, but with Ms. Sweed teaching, it was. 

9. (1) Trying to use Mrs. Sweed’s wit, enthusiasm, and dedication, as I tried to inspire other students. (2) I even started to do well enough in math to start tutoring other students. (3) I never would have been able to do so without meeting Ms. Sweed. (4) I was soon one of the top tutors in our school, and I helped dozens of students increase their grades. [10] Thanks to her inspiration, I’ve decided to look into the field of engineering. 11. Now, an engineering major taking many math classes in college. I enjoy every single one of them. 12. Math is a subject everyone can enjoy.

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

That was until I met my calculus teacher Ms. Sweed.

That was until I met, my calculus teacher Ms. Sweed.

That was, until I met, my calculus teacher Ms. Sweed.

That was until I met my, calculus teacher, Ms. Sweed.

Correct answer:

That was until I met my calculus teacher Ms. Sweed.

Explanation:

Two commas used in the way they are in the original sentence usually set off an appositive; however, the phrase "my calculus teacher" is NOT an appositive in this case because it is crucial to the meaning of the sentence.

Example Question #5 : Appositive Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

The director, he has been preparing for this film for the past four years, has finally been given approval to beginning filming this month.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

preparing for this film for the past four years,

who has been preparing for this film for the past four years,

whom has been in preparation for this film for the past four years,

which has been preparing for this film for the past four years,

Correct answer:

who has been preparing for this film for the past four years,

Explanation:

The comma after the subject indicates the need for an appositive phrase.   

A main clause used in this position would create a run-on sentence.

"which" cannot be used to refer to people.

"whom" is the objective form of the pronoun and cannot be the subject of the appositive.

"preparing" would make the time referent of the phrase present.

Example Question #6 : Appositive Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

An eager young student who was ready to learn, Jack taught his grandson chess every day after school.

Possible Answers:

Jack taught chess every day after school to his grandson, an eager young student who was ready to learn.

An eager young student who was ready to learn every day after school, Jack taught his grandson chess.

NO CHANGE

Jack, an eager young student who was ready to learn, taught his grandson chess every day after school.

An eager young student who was ready to learn, Jack taught his grandson chess every day after school.

Correct answer:

Jack taught chess every day after school to his grandson, an eager young student who was ready to learn.

Explanation:

The phrase "an eager young student who was ready to learn" in this sentence is called an appositive, which is a noun or noun phrase that describes or renames another noun right next to it in the sentence. The appositive can be directly before or after the noun it describes, but it must be adjacent. In this case, it is clear that the appositive refers to the grandson rather than Jack: if Jack is old enough to be a grandfather, he is not a young student, and since he is teaching his grandson chess, it would not make sense to describe him as "eager to learn." Therefore, the appositive should be moved next to the grandson in order to clarify the description.

Example Question #5 : Appositive Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Laura owned two horses a brown mare and a paint pony who lived in her backyard.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

horses a brown mare and a paint pony, who

horses. A brown mare and a paint pony. who

horses. A brown mare and a paint pony, who

horses, a brown mare and a paint pony, who

Correct answer:

horses, a brown mare and a paint pony, who

Explanation:

This question asks you about the correct punctuation to use with an appositive phrase. An appositive phrase is a noun phrase that describes the noun right before it. In this sentence, the phrase "a brown mare and a paint pony" describes the noun "horses." An appositive phrase should be surrounded by commas. Without commas, the sentence becomes a run-on sentence. The use of periods rather than commas creates a sentence fragment.

Example Question #8 : Appositive Errors

“Bach and German Hymnody” by Matthew Minerd (2016)

The great German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach was a member of a prodigiously talented musical family. A significant number of Johann Sebastians ancestors and descendants were musicians of various levels of talent. Although he was known for music of a variety of forms, one of his most enduring legacies is the repertoire of chorale music by which he improved and solidified the world of German congregational singing.

During the period after the Protestant Reformation, a number of hymns were written for use in the common worship of the Christians of the time. The structured form of these compositions were well suited for congregational singing although they would sound strange to our contemporary ears. The harmonies and meters of these hymns are very close in character to the music with which we are familiar. However, they lack some of the standard structural elements that we take for granted in this form of organized Western music. These small differences would stand out to our sensibilities.

It was the great glory of Johann Sebastian to have harmonized a great number of these hymns, often penning multiple such harmonies. One single melody might be made by Bach into three, four, or even five different harmonic compositions. This amazing feat of musical prowess is no small addition to the original behest of Lutheran hymns that Bach had inherited from his fellow religious brethren. Many of these harmonies remain to this day as classic renditions of these songs. They are sung not only in the German world but in Protestant and Catholic services. Indeed they are even sung in wholly secular concerts thanks to their great beauty!

This great diffusion of one mans’ work is a testament to his prodigious talent. It also stands as a testament to the fact that Bach’s work came at a pivotal time when the Protestant hymnody was crystalizing, as well as when Western harmonies were coming into a particular expression that is known as the Baroque.

How should the underlined and bolded selection be changed?

Possible Answers:

The great German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, was a member of a prodigiously talented musical family.

The great German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach had been a member of a prodigiously talented musical family.

The great German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach was a member of a prodigiously, talented musical family.

The great, German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach was a member of a prodigiously talented musical family.

The great German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach had been a member of a prodigiously talented, musical family.

Correct answer:

The great German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, was a member of a prodigiously talented musical family.

Explanation:

In this sentence, "Johann Sebastian Bach" stands in apposition to "the great German composer"—they both refer to the same person. Therefore, you must surround "Johan Sebastian Bach" with commas. This helps the reader to realize that the two nouns are the very same person. You can always detect an apposition by taking out the potential candidate for apposition. If you remove "Johann Sebastian Bach," the sentence still reads well enough (although with less specificity about the subject).

Example Question #9 : Appositive And Interrupting Phrase Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, select “NO CHANGE.”

The cat, a gray tabby, jumped up on the kitchen table.

Possible Answers:

The cat: a gray tabby, jumped up on the kitchen table.

The cat was a gray tabby, and jumped up on the kitchen table.

The cat; a gray tabby; jumped up on the kitchen table.

NO CHANGE

The cat, a gray tabby jumped up on the kitchen table.

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

This question asks you about the correct punctuation to use with an appositive phrase. An appositive phrase is a phrase that describes the noun beside it: in this case, the phrae "a gray tabby" describes the noun "the cat." An appositive phrase should always be surrounded by commas on either side when it follows the noun. Therefore, the original sentence is correct as written.

Example Question #2071 : Act English

Fashion, that ever-changing entity has thrown us some curveballs in the last year. No one expected that gym pants would become acceptable workwear, but that’s exactly what has happened! First seen on the runway these casual, slouchy pants bridge the gap between exercise attire and business casual. They have comfortable, elastic waists but feature crisp lines and smart patterns.

Even though top executives have been seen sporting this edgy look, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can pull it off too! Think about your office dress code and how relaxed it is. For instance, do you see other people in your office wearing less traditional clothing, and do people push the boundaries without getting in trouble. If every person in your office is wearing a button-down shirt, suits, and a tie, this fun fashion may be best left to the weekend.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded and underlined portion of the passage. If the bolded and underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

Fashion that ever-changing entity, has thrown us some curveballs

Fashion, that ever-changing entity, has thrown us some curveballs

Fashion, that every-changing entity. It has thrown us some curveballs

Fashion, that every changing entity; it has thrown us some curveballs

Correct answer:

Fashion, that ever-changing entity, has thrown us some curveballs

Explanation:

This questions asks about the best punctuation to use with an appositive phrase. An appositive phrase is a noun phrase that describes a noun preceding it. In this case, the appositive phrase "that ever-changing entity" describes the noun, "fashion." An appositive phrase should always be surrounded on either side by commas. Without both commas, the sentence becomes a run-on sentence. It is not correct to use a period or semicolon here, because the phrase "Fashion, that ever-changing entity" contains no verb and therefore is not a complete sentence.

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