ACT English : Other Modifier-Word Modified Agreement Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Other Modifier Word Modified Agreement Errors

As a child the only thing I wanted to be was a race car driver. My mothers family all lived in central Indiana, and I went to the Indianapolis 500 every year growing up. Between the colors on the cars the speed of the race and the enthusiasm of the crowd, nothing in the world seemed more exciting to a child. I would lay awake at night thinking about getting behind the wheel of my own race car. My bedroom walls were adorned with posters of the all great racers from all over the world.

When I was a teenager, I had the opportunity to race go karts on small tracks against other kids my age. Very quickly I realized I am the terrible driver. Any bumping with another driver was too much for me to handle, and I could not take the turns quick enough to keep pace with the best drivers. None of this diminished my love of racing, however, because just being at the track was such a thrill. The noise, the speed, and rushing were all more exciting from the pits than from the grandstand. If I could never be in the driver’s seat, then I would place myself behind the scenes.

With this new focus, I began studying mechanical engineering and automotive design. I might not have been able to drive a race car; but now I could design a car, build a car, and engineer it to win a race. The drivers still get all the credit for the championships, but everyone knows they would never win without the people like myself.

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

Possible Answers:

I am the terribly driver

NO CHANGE

I am a terrible driver

I was the terrible driver

Correct answer:

I am a terrible driver

Explanation:

The use of the definite article "the" is confusing and strange in the underlined portion of the passage. The indefinite article is better suited to a simple adjective, rather than a superlative, which is when a definite article should be used. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "I am a terrible driver."

Example Question #2 : Other Modifier Word Modified Agreement Errors

“Democracy—Always a Good Thing?”

In the contemporary world, we tend to think that democracy is always the best form of government.  We are enchanted by the idea of self-governance for it seems to affirm the maturity of the citizens of a nation.  Instead of being ruled by benign-monarchs or the landed-aristocracy, the citizens of a democracy are people who exercise self-mastery in a fully human manner.  Well, at least this is what we tend to think of the matter.

Really, however, democracy is an ambiguous affair.  Often, we use such single terms to name two different types of social arrangements.  Such an equivocation is understandable.  Whenever all (or at least most) of the people take part in political life, it seems like we have a kind of democracy.  However, it is important to make a clearer distinction.

On the one hand, there can be a community that aims at the common good.  In such a group, the people come together to have a political community that aims to fulfill human goals that could not be done by isolated individuals.  Such a group will come together to establish educational institutions to preserve culture, regulate commerce in order to help normalize economic interactions, pass many laws that regulate our social interactions, and undertake many other affairs.  Although all of these things benefit the individuals in the given society, such a group of self-governing people do not aim merely at the private satisfaction of the people.  This kind of “democracy” works together, for common political goals.

On the other hand, there can be a community that merely aims at the private goods of the citizens.  The Greek philosopher Aristotle remarked in his text, the Politics,  that democracy was a government by the numerous poor people for the sake of those same people’s private goods.  Clearly, he was using “democracy” in this sense.  If the people of a nation only come together in order to assure their own private freedom and to receive benefits for themselves, a given society is this kind of so-called democracy.

Of course, it is difficult to say what is the state of any particular nation today.  Often, elements of each of these kinds of governance is found in a given country at a particular time.  Still, it is important to be aware that such an “equivocation” is possible.  Otherwise, we will end up saying rather foolish things like, “Democracy is always a good form of government,” or, “democracy is a horrible form of government.”

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:

Often, we use a single term

Often we use such single terms

NO CHANGE

Often, we use single terms

Correct answer:

Often, we use a single term

Explanation:

As written, this sentence misuses a plural expression when a singular one is needed. The sentence is discussing how we can misuse one term to name multiple realities. Likely, you were tempted to miss this error because the sentence is stating a general point about how we often use any particular single term in multiple ways (as opposed to this or that particular term). The point remains: We use some one term to designate more than one meaning.

Example Question #3 : Other Modifier Word Modified Agreement Errors

Second language acquisition has already been positively correlated to increased cognitive flexibility (1): what has yet to be investigated is the correlation between cultural literacy—as a potential result of second language acquisition—and the facilitation of social relationships on the individual and community levels, academic and career success, and personal cultural enrichment. Cultural literacy may be (2) viewed as a deepest sense of foreign language study, as it encompasses all facets of culture rather than just language.  If these positive correlations are accurately established (3) , the United States’ education system and (4) its lack of priority given to foreign language studies must be reevaluated. Vastly extending foreign language requirements would allow individuals not only the obvious benefit of communicating in more than one language, (5) but also from greater academic success in high school, college, and the workplace, as well as less multicultural tension in social and professional arenas. (6) As the global market continues to be vital to the economic prosperity of nations, and immigration trends change their cultural make-up, (7) both linguistic and cultural understanding and awareness is essential.

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:

viewed as a deeper sense

viewed as the deeper sense

viewing as a deepest sense

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

viewed as a deeper sense

Explanation:

The indefinite article "a" cannot be paired with a superlative adjective (-est). It must be a definite article ("the" or "this") that is paired with a superlative adjective, and an indefinite article with a comparative adjective (-er). 

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