ACT English : Correlative Conjunction Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Question #1 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

Adapted from “Emerson’s Prose Works” in The Works of Orestes A. Brownson: Philosophy of Religion by Orestes Brownson (ed. 1883)

Mr. Emersons literary reputation is established and placed beyond the reach of criticism. No living writer surpasses him in his mastery of pure and classic English; nor do any equal him—neither in the exquisite delicacy and finish of his chiseled sentences, or in the metallic ring of his style. It is only as a thinker and teacher that we can venture any inquiry into his merits; and as such we cannot suffer ourselves to be imposed upon by his oracular manner, nor by the apparent originality either of his views or his expressions.

Mr. Emerson has had a swarm both of admirers but also of detractors. With many, he is a philosopher and sage, almost a god; while with others, he is regarded as an unintelligible mystic, babbling nonsense fitted to captivate beardless young men and silly maidens with pretty curls, all of who constituted years ago the great body of his hearers and worshipers. We rank us in neither class, though we regard he as no ordinary man. Indeed, we believe he to be one of the deepest thinkers as well as one of the first poets of our country. Indeed, by long acquaintance have him and us been in mutual contact—if only from a distance at times. We know him to be a polished gentleman, a genial companion, and a warmhearted friend, whose' kindness does not pass over individuals and waste itself in a vague philanthropy. So much, at least, we can say of the man, and this do we base not only upon former personal acquaintance and upon our former study of his writings.

What is the best form of the underlined selection, "acquaintance and upon our former study of his writings"?

Possible Answers:

acquaintance but also upon our former study of his writings

acquaintance but upon our former study of his writings

NO CHANGE

acquaintance and also upon our former study of his writings

Correct answer:

acquaintance but also upon our former study of his writings

Explanation:

As written, the sentence does not use the correlative conjunctions "not only . . . but also" correctly.  It has the form, "not only upon . . . and upon." The correct option is the one that corrects the second member of the correlative pair, replacing it with "but also."

Example Question #1 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

Adapted from “The Nose Tree” in German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm (trans. Taylor, ed. 1864)

Then the king made known to all his kingdom, that whomever would heal her of this dreadful disease should be richly rewarded. Many tried, but the princess got no relief. Now the old soldier dressed himself up very sprucely as a doctor, and said he could cure her. Therefore, he chopped up some of the apple, and, to punish her a little more, gave her a dose, saying he would call to-morrow and see her again. The morrow came, and, of course, instead of being better, the nose had been growing on all night as before; and the poor princess was in a dreadful fright. So the doctor then chopped up a very little of the pear and gave it to her. He said that he was sure that it would help, and he would call again the next day. Next day came, and the nose was to be sure a little smaller. However, it was bigger than when the doctor first began to meddle with it.

Then he thought to him, "I must frighten this cunning princess a little more before I am able to get what I want from her." Therefore, he gave her another dose of the apple and said he would call on the morrow. The morrow came, and the nose was ten times bad as before.

"My good lady," said the doctor, "Something works against my medicine and is to strong for it. However, I know by the force of my art that it is this, you have stolen goods about you. I am certain of it. If you do not give them back, I can do nothing for you."

The princess denied very stoutly that she had anything of the kind.

"Very well," said the doctor, "you may do as you please, but I am sure I am correct. You will die if you do not own it." Then he went to the king, and told him how the matter stood.

"Daughter," said he, "send back the cloak, the purse, and the horn, that you stole from the right owners."

Then she ordered her maid to fetch all three and gave them to the doctor, and begged him to give them back to the soldiers. The moment he had them safe, he gave her a whole pear to eat, and the nose came right. And as for the doctor, he put on the cloak, wished the king and all his court a good day and was soon with his two brothers. They lived from that time happily at home in their palace, except when they took an airing to see the world in their coach with their three dapple-grey horses.

What is the best form of the underlined sentence, "The morrow came, and the nose was ten times bad as before"?

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

The morrow came, and the nose was ten times worse as before.

The morrow came, and the nose was ten times as bad as before.

The morrow came and the nose was ten times as bad as before.

Correct answer:

The morrow came, and the nose was ten times as bad as before.

Explanation:

As written, the mistake in the sentence is its lack of the appropriate correlative conjunction "as" to accompany the "as" that precedes "before." The comma is appropriate, for the sentence is a compounding of two independent clauses. The comparison should not be made by using "worse." This would require "than" instead of "as" (and also would sound somewhat awkward as the sentence is written).

Example Question #3 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

Adapted from The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James (1902)

In the matter of religions, it is particularly easy distinguishing the too orders of question. Every religious phenomenon has its history and its derivation from natural antecedents. What is nowadays called the higher criticism of the Bible are only a study of the Bible from this existential point of view, neglected to much by the earlier church. Under just what biographic conditions did the sacred writers bring forth their various contributions to the holy volume? What had they exactly in their several individual minds, when they delivered their utterances? These are manifestly questions of historical fact, and one does not see how the answer to it can decide offhand the still further question: of what use should such a volume, with its manner of coming into existence so defined, be to us as a guide to life and a revelation? To answer this other question we must have already in our mind some sort of a general theory as to what the peculiarities in a thing should be which give it value for purposes of revelation; and this theory itself would be what I just called a spiritual judgment. Combining it with our existential judgment, we might indeed deduce another spiritual judgment as to the Bibles’ worth. Thus, if our theory of revelation-value were to affirm that any book, to possess it, must have been composed automatically or not by the free caprice of the writer, or that it must exhibit no scientific and historic errors and express no local or personal passions, the Bible would probably fare ill at our hands. But if, on the other hand, our theory should allow that a book may well be a revelation in spite of errors and passions and deliberate human composition, if only it be a true record of the inner experiences of great-souled persons wrestling with the crises of his fate, than the verdict would be much favorable. You see that the existential facts by itself are insufficient for determining the value; and the best adepts of the higher criticism accordingly never confound the existential with the spiritual problem. With the same conclusions of fact before them, some take one view, and some another, of the Bible's value as a revelation, according as their spiritual judgment as to the foundation of values differ.

What is the clearest form of the underlined selection?

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

either must have been composed automatically or not by the free caprice of the writer or that it must exhibit no scientific and historic errors and express no local or personal passions, the Bible would probably fare ill at our hands

must have been composed automatically, neither by the free caprice of the writer nor that it must exhibit no scientific and historic errors and express no local or personal passions, the Bible would probably fare ill at our hands

either must have been composed automatically (or, at least, not by the free caprice of the writer) or that it must exhibit no scientific and historic errors and express no local or personal passions, the Bible would probably fare ill at our hands

Correct answer:

either must have been composed automatically (or, at least, not by the free caprice of the writer) or that it must exhibit no scientific and historic errors and express no local or personal passions, the Bible would probably fare ill at our hands

Explanation:

This sentence is very long, and it is necessary to pay attention to the author's logic when considering ways in which the sentence might be rephrased. Notice that the author says that there are two standards of value that will make the status of the Bible seem questionable if they are rigorously applied. (This is the author's opinion. We are not here to get into the justifications for his reasoning.) They are:

(1) To say that the book was composed automatically or at least that it was not composed by the free caprice of the writer

(2) To say that it must have no scientific and historic errors and express no local or personal passions

Now, the confusing part is the fact that (1) and (2) are joined by an "or," but (1) also has an "or" in it as well. There really is a case of correlative conjunctions here: either 1 or 2. However, to make this clear, the correct answer isolates the "secondary" "or" that is found in (1).

Example Question #2 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

An adapted selection from The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (1532)

Now, if you will consider what was the nature of the government of Darius, you will find it similar to the kingdom of the Turk. Therefore it was only necessarily for Alexander, first to overthrow him in the field, and then to take the country from him. After this victory, Darius being killed, the state remained secure in Alexander’s power, for the reasons noted earlier. If his successors had been united they would have enjoyed it securely and at their ease, for there was no tumults raised in the kingdom except those they provoked themselves. However, it is impossible to hold with such tranquility states constituted like that of France. Hence arose those frequent rebellions against the Roman’s in Spain, France, and Greece, owing to the many principalities there were in these latter states, of which the Romans always held an insecure possession; however, with the power and long continuance of the empire, the memory of them passed away, and the Romans then became secure possessors. When fighting afterwards amongst themselves, each one was able to attach to himself his own parts of the country, according to the authority he had assumed there; and the family of the former lord being exterminated, none other than the Romans were acknowledged.

When these things are remembered, no one will marvel at the ease with which Alexander held the Empire of Asia or at the difficulties that others have had to keep an acquisition. This is not occasioned by the little or abundance of ability in the conqueror but, instead, by the want of uniformity in the subject state.

Which of the following is the best form of the underlined selection, "This is not occasioned by the little or abundance of ability in the conqueror"?

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

This is not occasioned by the scarcity nor the abundance of ability in the conqueror

This is occasioned neither by the scarcity nor the abundance of ability in the conqueror

This is occasioned neither by the scarcity or the abundance of ability in the conqueror

Correct answer:

This is occasioned neither by the scarcity nor the abundance of ability in the conqueror

Explanation:

As written, the word "little" is somewhat confusing, though it is clear that the author wishes to say that the difficulties are caused neither by a lack of ability nor by an abundance thereof. While replacing this word with "scarcity," the correct answer likewise uses "neither" to draw out the contrast. Note that the other options do not use the correlative construction correctly. When using "neither," you must use "nor" as the correlative conjunction for the second half of the conjoined pair.

Example Question #3 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

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

Neither Danny or Rebecca was adequately prepared for the tennis match that afternoon.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

and

also

nor

either

Correct answer:

nor

Explanation:

"Neither" is paired with "nor," "either" is paired with "or." “Neither Danny nor Rebecca” is the correct grammatical pairing in this situation. 

Example Question #5 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

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

We enjoyed going to Alice’s art class, and the long drive over was starting to become a deterrent. 

Possible Answers:

but

therefore

NO CHANGE

also

and then

Correct answer:

but

Explanation:

The first and second parts of the sentence are both independent clauses. Since they demonstrate a contrast (We like going to the class BUT the drive is too long), “but” is the correct conjunction in this sentence.

Example Question #4 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

Adapted from The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James (1902)

In the matter of religions, it is particularly easy distinguishing the too orders of question. Every religious phenomenon has its history and its derivation from natural antecedents. What is nowadays called the higher criticism of the Bible are only a study of the Bible from this existential point of view, neglected to much by the earlier church. Under just what biographic conditions did the sacred writers bring forth their various contributions to the holy volume? What had they exactly in their several individual minds, when they delivered their utterances? These are manifestly questions of historical fact, and one does not see how the answer to it can decide offhand the still further question: of what use should such a volume, with its manner of coming into existence so defined, be to us as a guide to life and a revelation? To answer this other question we must have already in our mind some sort of a general theory as to what the peculiarities in a thing should be which give it value for purposes of revelation; and this theory itself would be what I just called a spiritual judgment. Combining it with our existential judgment, we might indeed deduce another spiritual judgment as to the Bibles’ worth. Thus, if our theory of revelation-value were to affirm that any book, to possess it, must have been composed automatically or not by the free caprice of the writer, or that it must exhibit no scientific and historic errors and express no local or personal passions, the Bible would probably fare ill at our hands. But if, on the other hand, our theory should allow that a book may well be a revelation in spite of errors and passions and deliberate human composition, if only it be a true record of the inner experiences of great-souled persons wrestling with the crises of his fate, than the verdict would be much favorable. You see that the existential facts by itself are insufficient for determining the value; and the best adepts of the higher criticism accordingly never confound the existential with the spiritual problem. With the same conclusions of fact before them, some take one view, and some another, of the Bible's value as a revelation, according as their spiritual judgment as to the foundation of values differ.

What is the best form of the underlined selection, "than the verdict would be"?

Possible Answers:

then, the verdict might be

than the verdict will be

then the verdict would be

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

then the verdict would be

Explanation:

As written, the only mistake is the improper use of "than." "Than" is most often used in comparisons such as, "He is taller than Michael." The word that is needed is "then" (not followed by a comma). The "then" is related to the "if" found at the beginning of the sentence: "If . . . our theory. . . then. . ."

Example Question #7 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

Travelling can be both fun stressful. If you leaves the country, you should always keep your passport with you. A domestic trip may be more palatable to the xenophobic. However, even a short road trip can be scary than staying at home. People would be wise to simply treat them to a movie.

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

Possible Answers:

Travelling can be both fun and stressful.

Travelling can be both fun, stressful.

Travelling can be both fun and, stressful.

NO CHANGE

Travelling can be both fun, and, stressful.

Correct answer:

Travelling can be both fun and stressful.

Explanation:

The correct sentence uses the correlative conjunctions “both” and “and.” No commas are needed with this pair of correlative conjunctions.

Example Question #5 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

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

Because it’s a federal holiday, neither the post office or the bank will be open on Monday.

Possible Answers:

and not even

NO CHANGE

nor even

nor

and

Correct answer:

nor

Explanation:

Because the sentence uses the negative “neither,” the negative "nor" should be used instead of "or," as "neither" matches with "nor," and "either" matches with "or."

Example Question #6 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

My childhood was fairly idyllic. I grew up in southern suburbia, we could play outside nearly year round. We almost played outside every day. Our days were filled with bike rides, jumping on the trampoline, playing in the sprinklers, and also imagination games. Countless afternoons were spent in the side yard of our home, where our imaginations were the limit to our fun. One of our favorite games was “Lost Children.” Oddly enough, the parents in the game were always deceased or fighting in a foreign war. The source of this game likely stemmed from the books we read.

My mother’s old, rusty, orange wheelbarrow was perpetually propped up against the fence, to serve as the base for our makeshift range. The metal braces beneath the wheelbarrow bin provided the perfect resting place for a pair of burners, hastily sketched on a flat board. Old paint buckets became a sink and a stained picnic table was scrubbed to a relative state of cleanliness. Our visitors, who were often kings and queens, were served heaping helpings of mud and grass pie, possibly adorned with a side helping of flowers. Household chores were far more fun to do in our imaginary world, and we would eagerly sweep and dust our humble home. Even covered in leaves, we loved our outdoor kitchen.  

Other days, we would scamper around the neighborhood park, sometimes venturing into the woods to go exploring. One time we borrowed my little sister’s wagon and flew down the sides of the ditch. Although we had a grand time my mother was not pleased when she had to replace the broken axle. On adventurous days, we would pretend to be statues on the entrance sign to our neighborhood. But, the most perfect afternoons were spent biking up to the local corner store. With spending money burning a hole in our pockets, we would peruse the convenience store shelves, and after carefully picking our selections, we would pedal home. Our plastic shopping bags hung from the handlebars, rustling in the wind.

The bite of crisp fall evenings would barely phase our childlike fantasies. But, to our dismay, twilight would inevitably seep into our childhood world. Mother would call us in for dinner and a bath, if needed. Tired, beds were welcomed. I would often fall asleep to the gentle rhythm of my mother’s voice.

Which of the following substitutes for the bolded section would NOT be acceptable?

Possible Answers:

also there were

or

in addition to

as well as

Correct answer:

also there were

Explanation:

"Also there were" is not a good substitute because it would make the sentence a run on sentence. The other choices are all acceptable correlative conjunctions.

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