ACT English : Separating, Combining, or Reordering Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Separating, Combining, Or Reordering Sentences

The world is full of contradictions and I am full of them as well.  Every person has their quirks and I am no exception.  Except my mom—she's pretty normal.  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 would love to enlighten you!

What would make the underlined portion grammatically correct and appropriate for the paragraph?

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

Excepting my mother, who is pretty normal, we all have quirks.  

Delete the underlined portion

My mom is the exception to this rule because she is relatively normal.  

Except my mom because she's pretty normal.  

Correct answer:

Delete the underlined portion

Explanation:

This is not a complete sentence, nor does it belong in this paragraph.  The paragraph is making the point that everyone has quirks, and the writer interrupting himself to disagree with himself does not fit n the paragraph.

Example Question #6 : Reorganizing Content

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:

Robots were intended by humans to make their lives easier

Humans wanted robots to make life easier

NO CHANGE

Humans wanted robots to make their lives easier

Correct answer:

Humans wanted robots to make life easier

Explanation:

The revision "Humans wanted robots to make life easier" carries the intended meaning of the sentence without introducing the pronoun ambiguity that the original sentence or "Humans wanted robots to make their lives easier" both contain, and it is a more active construction than the passive "Robots were intended by humans to make their lives easier."

Example Question #7 : Reorganizing Content

The student the hand of whom was up (1) gave the wrong answer. She was asked what was a substantive adjective (2), and she answered that a substantive adjective is one that describe (3) a substance. "No!" (4) the teacher barked. "A substantive adjective takes the place of a noun in a sentence, as when someone talks about the rich and the poor (5). Did you learn nothing in this class?" He then asked what a superlative adjective was, to which she replied (6) that a superlative adjective was one that took the place of a noun in a sentence. "But thats (7) what I just said," the teacher screamed! (8) The student had said (9) that she had heard him, therefore (10) she answered his question. "You answered my question previously, (11)" he bellowed, "not the last one!" "Ah, you mean the latest one," the student replied, the moment at which (12) the teacher turned to the wall and started beating his head against it.

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

what a substantive adjective should be 

what is a substantive adjective

what a substantive adjective was

Correct answer:

what a substantive adjective was

Explanation:

The original sentence is worded like a direct question when it should be worded as an indirect question; only "what a substantive adjective was" is worded correctly.

Example Question #1 : Separating, Combining, Or Reordering Sentences

The student the hand of whom was up (1) gave the wrong answer. She was asked what was a substantive adjective (2), and she answered that a substantive adjective is one that describe (3) a substance. "No!" (4) the teacher barked. "A substantive adjective takes the place of a noun in a sentence, as when someone talks about the rich and the poor (5). Did you learn nothing in this class?" He then asked what a superlative adjective was, to which she replied (6) that a superlative adjective was one that took the place of a noun in a sentence. "But thats (7) what I just said," the teacher screamed! (8) The student had said (9) that she had heard him, therefore (10) she answered his question. "You answered my question previously, (11)" he bellowed, "not the last one!" "Ah, you mean the latest one," the student replied, the moment at which (12) the teacher turned to the wall and started beating his head against it.

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:

at the moment of which

NO CHANGE

at the which moment

at which moment

Correct answer:

at which moment

Explanation:

The phrase, "at which moment," is most appropriate here because it is least wordy and prevents ending the phrase with a preposition.

Example Question #9 : Reorganizing Content

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:

from it's resolution being 25-bit

from it's 25-bit resolution

from its 25-bit resolution

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

from its 25-bit resolution

Explanation:

The phrase "from its 25-bit resolution" both adequately condenses the information in the original phrase and avoids misuing the contraction "it's" in place of the possessive "its."

Example Question #10 : Reorganizing Content

Adapted from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)

As they entered, they saw Dorian Gray who was seated at the piano his back to them, turning over the pages of a volume of Schumann's "Forest Scenes." "You must lend me these, Basil," he cried. "I want to learn them. They are perfectly charming." "That entirely depends on how you sit to-day, Dorian."

"Oh, I am tired of sitting, and I don't want a life-sized portrait of myself," answered the lad, swinging round on the music-stool in a willful, petulant manner. When he caught sight of Lord Henry, a faint blush colored his cheeks for a moment, and he started up. "I beg your pardon, Basil. I did’nt know you had any one with you."

"This is Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian, an old Oxford friend of mine. I have just been telling him what a capital sitter you were, and now you have spoiled everything."

"You have not spoiled my pleasure in meeting you, Mr. Gray," said Lord Henry, stepping forward and extended his hand. "My aunt has often spoken to me about you. You are one of her favorites, and, I am afraid, one of her victims also."

"I am in Lady Agatha's black books at present," answered Dorian with a funny look of penitence. "I promised to go to a club in Whitechapel with her last Tuesday, and I really forgot all about it. We were to have played a duet together: three duets, I believe. I don't know what she will say to me. I am far too frightened to call."

Which of the following is a clearer form of the underlined sentence, "This is Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian, an old Oxford friend of mine."?

Possible Answers:

Dorian, an old Oxford friend of mine, this is Lord Henry Wotton.

None of the options are clearer than the others.

Dorian, this is Lord Henry Wotton, an old Oxford friend of mine.

This is Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian, who is an old Oxford friend of mine.

Correct answer:

Dorian, this is Lord Henry Wotton, an old Oxford friend of mine.

Explanation:

As written, the sentence is a bit confusing in its use of "apposition." The phrase "an old Oxford friend of mine" is in apposition to Lord Wotton, for it describes him more fully. As it is written in the passage, the sentence places this phrase after "Dorian" and not after its proper antecedent. You can tell from the context and punctuation that "Dorian" is a noun of direct address. The phrase does not modify him.

Example Question #2 : Separating, Combining, Or Reordering Sentences

[1] Today, passengers can travel through the 31-mile tunnel in just 20 minutes. [2] However, cars cannot drive through the tunnel. [3] While some people choose to ride on passenger trains, it is also possible to travel via car. [4] Instead, cars must be driven onto special trains. [5] Passengers then remain in their cars during the journey, and upon reaching the station, they simply drive their cars off the train.

In order to make this paragraph as logical as possible, where should Sentence 2 be placed?

Possible Answers:

Where it is now

Before Sentence 1

After Sentence 5

After Sentence 4

After Sentence 3

Correct answer:

After Sentence 3

Explanation:

"However" suggests a contrast. The logical contrast in this paragraph is the contrast between the statement that it is possible to take a car through the tunnel and the statement that the car cannot simply be driven through the tunnel.

Example Question #2 : Separating, Combining, Or Reordering Sentences

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.

The author is considering adding the following sentence between the two sentences bolded at the end of the passage's last paragraph:

"However, after a lovely family dinner, the fantasy could begin again as childhood bedtime stories took us to Avonlea with Anne or the Swiss Alps with Heidi."

Should the writer make this addition here?

Possible Answers:

Yes, because it reinforces the idea of childhood being idyllic.

No, because it adds information about bedtime stories, when the passage is about playing outside.

No, because it distracts attention from the paragraph’s focus, which is coming inside from playing.

Yes, because it continues the theme of imagination and fantasy, and links the previous sentence to the concluding sentences. It reduces ambiguity.

Correct answer:

Yes, because it continues the theme of imagination and fantasy, and links the previous sentence to the concluding sentences. It reduces ambiguity.

Explanation:

"Yes, because it continues the theme of imagination and fantasy, and links the previous sentence to the concluding sentences. It reduces ambiguity" is the best choice because the sentence clarifies the concluding statement about falling asleep to her mother reading.

Example Question #3 : Separating, Combining, Or Reordering Sentences

"Lincoln as a Child" by Caleb Zimmerman (2013)

 Abraham Lincoln's forefathers were pioneers. People that left their homes to open up the wilderness and make the way clear for others to follow them. For one hundred and seventy years, ever since the first Lincoln came from England to Massachusetts in 1638, he had been moving slowly westward as new settlements were made in the forest. They faced solitude, privation, and all the dangers and hardships that beset those who take up their homes where only beasts and wild men have had homes before; but they continued to press steadily forward, though they lost fortune and sometimes even life itself in their westward progress.

Back in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, some of the Lincolns had been people of wealth and influence. In Kentucky, where the future President was born on February 12, 1809, his parents live in deep poverty. Their home was a small log cabin of the rudest kind, and nothing seemed more unlikely than that their child, coming into the world in such humble surroundings, was destined to be the greatest man of his time and true to his heritage, he also was to be a pioneer—not into new woods and unexplored fields like his ancestors, but a pioneer of a nobler and grander sort, directing the thoughts of people ever toward the right, and leading the American people, through difficulties and dangers and a mighty war, to peace and freedom.

The author is considering adding the following sentence to the essay: “But a wealthy family is not a prerequisite for success.” Which of the following is the most appropriate place to insert this sentence?

Possible Answers:

At the end of paragraph 1

Before sentence 1

After the third sentence in paragraph 2, before “True to his heritage,”

At the end of sentence 2, after “in the forest.”

Correct answer:

After the third sentence in paragraph 2, before “True to his heritage,”

Explanation:

The conjunction “but” suggests a contrast that is not present except in "After the third sentence in paragraph 2, before 'True to his race,'"

Example Question #3 : Separating, Combining, Or Reordering Sentences

While the course appeared hard from the outset, when his report card arrived in the mail, Charlie had discovered that all of his studying had paid off. He had successfully passed Chemistry: his father would be proud. His father, a world-renowned chemist was doubtful that Charlie would pass the class but Charlie was sure that he could do it. He had spent all of the fall semester studying the periodic table, memorizing different measurements and learning the parts of an atom.

That terrible semester culminated in the final exam. The day of the big test, his stomach is a tight knot of nerves. He tried to tell his mother that he was feeling ill but she knew that he was lying.1 He shook as he tried to put on his shoes and socks.He woke up with his fingers tightly gripping the bedspread.3 Sitting on the bus, he could feel himself sweating through his light sweater.4 When Charlie finally arrived at school, he walked into his Chemistry class just as his teacher was passing out the test. “You may now begin,” she said.

With the report card now clenched in his hands in victory, Charlie knew that he could tackle anything to which he put his mind.

Which of the following sentences best introduces the rest of paragraph, beginning at the bolded point? 

Possible Answers:

The test determined his final letter grade and he wanted to do well.

His final letter grade was determined by this test so he stayed up late studying for his English test.

He decided that he wasn’t going to study because his favorite basketball team was playing that night.

He wasn’t worried about the final test because the course material was easy.

Correct answer:

The test determined his final letter grade and he wanted to do well.

Explanation:

The rest of the passage explains, in detail, how nervous Charlie was before the test.  He said that he was determined to prove his father wrong so he most likely stayed home the night before the test to study and prepare. "His final letter grade was determined by this test so he stayed up late studying for his English test" is wrong because the story is talking about Charlie’s experience in Chemistry class, not English.

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