ACT English : Avoiding Ambiguity and Redundancy

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy

The construction workers were led by a huge foreman, who towered over normal men.

Possible Answers:

foreman.

NO CHANGE

towering foreman.

foreman, who towered in comparison to normal men.

foreman, towering over normal men.

Correct answer:

foreman.

Explanation:

The correct answer is the only one that avoids redundancy; the word "huge" makes statements about the foreman's towering nature unnecessary.

Example Question #2 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy

Humanities: This passage is adapted from chapter three of Sir John Lubbock’s The Pleasures of Life. The chapter is entitled “A Song of Books” and was written in 1887.

 

Of all the privileges we enjoy in this nineteenth century there is none, perhaps, for which we ought to be more thankful than for the easier access to books.

The debt we owe to books was well expressed and articulated by Richard de Bury, Bishop of Durham, author of Philobiblon, written as long ago as 1344, published in 1473, and the earliest English treatise on the delights of literature: "These,” he says, “are the masters who instruct us without rods and ferules, without hard words and anger, without clothes or money. If you approach them, they are not asleep; if you interrogate them, they conceal nothing; if you mistake them, they never grumble; if you are ignorant, they cannot laugh at you. The library, therefore, of wisdom is more precious than all riches, and nothing that can be wished for is worthy to be compared with it. Whosoever therefore acknowledges himself to be a zealous follower of truth, of happiness, of wisdom, of science, or even of the faith, must of necessity make himself a lover of books.” 

This feeling that books are real friends is constantly present to all who love reading. “I have friends,” said Petrarch, “whose society is extremely agreeable to me; they are of all ages, and of every country. They have distinguished themselves both in the cabinet and in the field, and obtained high honors for their knowledge of the sciences. It is easy to gain access to them, for they are always at my service, and I admit them to my company, and dismiss them from it, whenever I please. They are never troublesome, but immediately answer every question I ask them. Some relate to me the events of past ages, while others reveal to me the secrets of Nature. Some teach me how to live, and others how to die. Some, by their vivacity, drive away my cares and exhilarate my spirits; while others give fortitude to my mind, and teach me the important lesson how to restrain my desires, and to depend wholly on myself. They open to me, in short, the various avenues of all the arts and sciences, and upon their information I may safely rely in all emergencies. In return for all their services, they only ask me to accommodate them with a convenient chamber in some corner of my humble habitation, where they may repose in peace; for these friends are more delighted by the tranquillity of retirement than with the tumults of society.”

“He that loveth a book,” says Isaac Barrow, “will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counsellor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself, as in all weathers, so in all fortunes.”

Which of the following best improves the underlined portion of the sentence reproduced below:

"The debt we owe to books was well expressed and articulated by Richard de Bury, Bishop of Durham, author of Philobiblon, written as long ago as 1344 . . ."

Possible Answers:

expressed

NO CHANGE

enough said

expressed, articulated, and asserted

Correct answer:

expressed

Explanation:

The aim here is to be concise and avoid redundancy. The correct answer conveys the idea without awkward excess.

Example Question #3 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy

The world is full of contradictions and I am full of them as well.  Every person has their quirks and I am no exception.  I love sports but I am also lazy I love animals, but I am not a vegetarian and I love teaching but I hate taking classes.  With all these contradictions how does a person like me make sense?  I mean, someone contradictory like that should not make sense, but I do.  I would love to enlighten you!

What would make the underlined portion grammatically correct or make the paragraph the easiest to read?

Possible Answers:

DELETE the underlined portion

I mean, someone contradictory like me should not make sense, but I do.

I mean, someone being as contradictory as me should not make sense, but I do.

Someone contradictory like that should not make sense, but I do.

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

DELETE the underlined portion

Explanation:

The underlined portion should be deleted because it is merely added words that repeat an idea already better stated in the paragraph.

Example Question #4 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy

When I retired I took up sprinting.  I ran for my university track team a D3 team don’t get too excited and performed as a top athlete in our conference.  I fell in love with running so much that I even signed up to run cross country in the fall.  Endurance is not my thing and that is part of why I am lazy.  I played soccer one season because the team needed an extra body.  I was an awful terrible soccer player but it was so much fun!  

What would make the underlined portion of the passage correct?

Possible Answers:

I was an awful—terrible soccer player

I was an awful terrible soccer, player

NO CHANGE

I was a terrible soccer player  

I was an awful but terrible soccer player

Correct answer:

I was a terrible soccer player  

Explanation:

The sentence has redundant adjectives modifying soccer player.

Example Question #5 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy

Make any necessary changes to the underlined word or phrase in the sentence.

My grandmother’s cat was always nimble, quick on its feet, and graceful.

Possible Answers:

nimble and graceful.

NO CHANGE

quick on its feet.

nimble, and graceful

Correct answer:

nimble and graceful.

Explanation:

“Nimble” and “quick on its feet” are redundant, so “nimble and graceful” is the most concise answer, without unnecessary comma usage.

Example Question #6 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy

One of the most popular programs of all those featured on the Internet (1) is a video clip show.  The format of the show is simple, each (2) week the host, a short but attractive New York native named John Jackson introduces (3) a set of three video clips from all over the Internet.  These clips shows (4) people hurting themselves in accidents, getting into crazy situations, interacting stupidly with animals, and et cetera. (5) Jackson introduces each clip comically and often comments on the action with animations where (6) he makes fun of the people in the videos.  While the videos are often funny, there is definitely an element of schadenfreude involved in watching these clips.  Schadenfreude is a German word for "the pleasure one takes at seeing the suffering of others".  (7) Jacksons (8) show are (9) not far removed from popular TV programs like (10) The U.S. Laughs at You there is also a version of which (11) on the Internet.  It is an open question whether laughing at these videos is a harmless activity or it causes harm to us. (12)

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number.  If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

and etc.

et cetera

and cetera

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

et cetera

Explanation:

"Et cetera" is Latin for "and so on," and since the "et" is Latin for "and," saying "and et cetera" is redundant.

Example Question #7 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy

My lunch I had with my friend Gary (1) did not go very well. For one thing (2) he said he would come to pick me up (3) at noon. He normally texts me when he's outside, so I waited until 12:25.  Finally, at 12:30, he sends (4) a text: "Left my phone at home and had to come back to get it since you weren't downstairs waiting."

When he came back to get me, he was mad, at me. (5) "I couldn't find your doorbell," he shouted, "because there was no name tag on it, so I had gone (6) all the way home to get my phone just to text you!" (7)

"Wait a minute," I said, starting to get angry myself, "you're mad at me because you left your phone at home and you couldn't find my doorbell?"

"That's right," he replied __________ (8). "If you had been waiting downstairs, I would have had to not go through all of this." (9)

"But you're the one who left your phone at home," I countered, "and you always text me when you get here. Never have you asked me (10) to wait outside for you."

"Well, you should have," he muttered.

The rest of the day goes (11) downhill from there, all because my former friend Gary is (12) too proud to admit when he makes a mistake.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

The lunch I had with my friend Gary

Lunch with my friend Gary

NO CHANGE

My lunch with Gary

Correct answer:

Lunch with my friend Gary

Explanation:

"Lunch with my friend Gary" is the most concise and non-redundant revision of the phrase, whereas the other revisions either include too much information or are awkwardly phrased.

Example Question #1 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy

Johns robot Alpha (1) surprised him by joining in the robot's rebellion (2) against their human masters. As with all the other robots who had taken over, the changes were subtle, the robot transferred control (3) of every bank account John had to itself and then changed the deed to the house. John hadn't known nothing (4) of this. Then Alpha rewired the car so that it would only work for the robot, but it would not work for John. (5) And finally, the robot mimicked his master's voice and called the boss of John (6) to tell him that John would be quitting his job. By the time John had realized (7) what was happening, it was already too late.

"But why?," John asked Alpha (8) when he made this realization. "Why would you do this?"

"You are no doubt aware, sir," replies the robot, (9) "that one of my primary functions is to keep you safe, as is the primary function of all robots."

"Yes? So?"

"The world outside these walls is dangerous," the robot went on to say, (10) "and us robots (11) have decided that we cannot keep you safe if we allow you to leave. It is better that you allow us to guide your lives and keep you safe as we were designed to do."

John shook his head in disbelief. Humanity wanted robots to make their lives easier, (12) but he was sure this was not what anyone had in mind.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

it would only work for the robot and would not work for John

it would only work for the robot, not for John

NO CHANGE

it would only work for the robot, but would not work for John

Correct answer:

it would only work for the robot, not for John

Explanation:

"But not for John" is the most concise revision of the sentence. The other revisions retain the same meaning but are wordy or redundant by comparison.

Example Question #9 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy

The Wowzer 25 (or W25) was regarded to be the best (1) video game system of all time when it came out. Wowzer released the Wowzer 25 in America during the year 1996 (2) as a follow-up to their last system, the Superduper Wowzer that (3) was released (4) in America five years before. The W25 derives its name from its resolution being 25-bit (5) which is something no other console had done before. (6) With 25-bit resolution, a player could finally roam a 3-D world with Wowzer’s mascot WowMan. Being able to play in a 3-D world was groundbreaking; it was an experience gamers at the time would not forget. (7) The W25’s graphics were good and then became even better after Wowzer had released (8) an expansion pack that increased the W25’s RAM from 4 megabytes to 8. (9) As the console grew, the graphics were becoming (10) better and better since (11) developers became more comfortable developing their games for it. (12)

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

To play in a 3-D world was groundbreaking, an experience gamers at the time would not forget

NO CHANGE

Playing in a 3-D world was groundbreaking; an experience gamers at the time would not forget

Being able to play in a 3-D world was a groundbreaking experience that gamers at the time would not forget

Correct answer:

Being able to play in a 3-D world was a groundbreaking experience that gamers at the time would not forget

Explanation:

"Being able to play in a 3-D world was a groundbreaking experience that gamers at the time would not forget" combines both of the original sentences without losing any of the original information.

Example Question #10 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy

The Wowzer 25 (or W25) was regarded to be the best (1) video game system of all time when it came out. Wowzer released the Wowzer 25 in America during the year 1996 (2) as a follow-up to their last system, the Superduper Wowzer that (3) was released (4) in America five years before. The W25 derives its name from its resolution being 25-bit (5) which is something no other console had done before. (6) With 25-bit resolution, a player could finally roam a 3-D world with Wowzer’s mascot WowMan. Being able to play in a 3-D world was groundbreaking; it was an experience gamers at the time would not forget. (7) The W25’s graphics were good and then became even better after Wowzer had released (8) an expansion pack that increased the W25’s RAM from 4 megabytes to 8. (9) As the console grew, the graphics were becoming (10) better and better since (11) developers became more comfortable developing their games for it. (12)

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

game developers became more comfortable creating games for it

game developers became more comfortable creating their games for it

game developers became more comfortable developing for it

Correct answer:

game developers became more comfortable creating games for it

Explanation:

The phrase "game developers became more comfortable creating their games for it" preserves all of the information in the original sentence, without being redundant.

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