# GED Language Arts (RLA) : Commas

## Example Questions

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### Example Question #1 : Correcting Grammatical Errors In A Sentence Fragment

Although a work of fiction, Mariama Bâ's 1979 novel, So Long a Letter is also, in a sense, a manifesto of the female African experience, one that has all too often been consigned to a footnote in history books. Within the overarching colonial narrative of African marginalization, black women have been marginalized farther. In their respective accounts, Jomo Kenyatta and Franz Fanon put their own words in the mouths of female subjects: in more objective histories, women are hardly spoken of at all. By taking a comparative approach, however, the history of African women in the colonial and post-colonial eras can be patched together into something comprehensible. With Bâ’s voice as a guide, a more complex narrative comes out of the darkness of historical silence and bias to revealing significant degrees of female agency and expression.

Replace the bolded and underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

novel So Long a Letter is also

novel So Long a Letter, is also

novel; So Long a Letter is also

novel, So Long a Letter is also

novel. So Long a Letter is also

novel So Long a Letter is also

Explanation:

The original phrase is incorrect because the appositive phrase "So Long a Letter" is essential information required to understand the sentence; as such, it does not need to be set apart from the sentence by commas. A period and a semicolon are both incorrect punctuation choices, because the preceding phrase, “Although a work of fiction, Mariama Bâ's 1979 novel” is not a complete sentence or thought. The phrase "novel So Long a Letteris also" inserts an unnecessary comma that is grammatically incorrect and confuses the meaning of the sentence. Therefore, the answer must be "novel So Long a Letter is also."

### Example Question #1 : Commas

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the European education system underwent an overhaul that was, in part, solidified with the creation of the Bologna Process, an agreement among European countries to improve consistency and quality in higher education across the continent. The creation of the Bologna Process has not only improved the standard of education in EU nations, but set a very high bar for nations hoping to join the EU to hurdle. Belarus has already applied and been rejected due to concerns about its academic commitment. So we can see that quality education in Europe is not simply a lucky coincidence, or the natural result of a long history of scholars, but an intentional reform initiative upon which major political decisions, such as the inclusion of countries into the European Union, are made. Eastern European countries also had an especially difficult time transitioning to the new standards required of Bologna Process signatories since they were coming from the Soviet tradition of severely underfunded public schools and widespread bribery as a main criterion for university admission. The Soviet influence on the current state of tertiary education can clearly be seen by comparing eastern and western Germany. Before the implementation of the Bologna Process and formation of the European Higher Education Area, many European countries modeled their higher education system on Germany's, which separated students into academic or vocational training schools from the beginning of high school. This model fit with the Communist rationale of all jobs being of equal value, and the obligation of adolescents to train for the job for which they were best suited in society rather than allowing them to choose a major at the university level.

Which version of this sentence is most grammatically correct?

Following the fall of the Soviet Union the European education system underwent an overhaul that was in part solidified with the creation of the Bologna Process which was an agreement among European countries to improve consistency and quality in higher education across the continent.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the European education system underwent an overhaul which was -- in part -- solidified with the creation of the Bologna Process; an agreement among European countries to improve consistency and quality in higher education across the continent.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the European education system underwent an overhaul; which was, in part, solidified with the creation of the Bologna Process -- an agreement among European countries to improve consistency and quality in higher education across the continent.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union. The European education system underwent an overhaul which was, in part, solidified with the creation of the Bologna Process. An agreement among European countries to improve consistency and quality in higher education across the continent.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the European education system underwent an overhaul, which was, in part, solidified with the creation of the Bologna Process, an agreement, among European countries, to improve consistency, and quality in higher education across the continent.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union the European education system underwent an overhaul that was in part solidified with the creation of the Bologna Process which was an agreement among European countries to improve consistency and quality in higher education across the continent.

Explanation:

This is a complex sentence that needs punctuation in order to prevent it from becoming a run-on sentence. Only the correct answer choice provides punctuation that is sufficient and used correctly.

### Example Question #2 : Commas

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

In England there was scarcely an amount of order and protection to justify much national boasting. Daring burglaries by armed men, and highway robberies, took place in the capital itself every night; families were publicly cautioned not to go out of town without removing their furniture to upholsterers' warehouses for security; the highwayman in the dark was a City tradesman in the light, and, being recognised and challenged by his fellow-tradesman whom he stopped in his character of "the Captain," gallantly shot him through the head and rode away; the mail was waylaid by seven robbers, and the guard shot three dead, and then got shot dead himself by the other four, "in consequence of the failure of his ammunition:" after which the mail was robbed in peace; that magnificent potentate, the Lord Mayor of London, was made to stand and deliver on Turnham Green, by one highwayman, who despoiled the illustrious creature in sight of all his retinue; prisoners in London gaols fought battles with their turnkeys, and the majesty of the law fired blunderbusses in among them, loaded with rounds of shot and ball; thieves snipped off diamond crosses from the necks of noble lords at Court drawing-rooms; musketeers went into St. Giles's, to search for contraband goods, and the mob fired on the musketeers, and the musketeers fired on the mob, and nobody thought any of these occurrences much out of the common way. In the midst of them, the hangman, ever busy and ever worse than useless, was in constant requisition; now, stringing up long rows of miscellaneous criminals; now, hanging a housebreaker on Saturday who had been taken on Tuesday; now, burning people in the hand at Newgate by the dozen, and now burning pamphlets at the door of Westminster Hall; to-day, taking the life of an atrocious murderer, and to-morrow of a wretched pilferer who had robbed a farmer's boy of sixpence.

Correct the bolded and underlined sentence.

In England there was scarcely an amount of order, and protection to justify much national boasting.

In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and, protection to justify much national boasting.

In England, there was scarcely an amount of order, and, protection to justify much national boasting.

In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and protection to justify much national boasting.

In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and protection to justify much national boasting.

In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and protection to justify much national boasting.

Explanation:

A comma is necessary in and introductory clause but not necessary with a conjunction when a dependent clause is being joined to a main clause, as is the case here. The first part of the sentence, "In England," is an introductory clause, so it needs a comma after it. The part of the sentence before the "and" is an independent clause and because the second part is not an independent clause there is no need for a comma with the "and."

### Example Question #3 : Commas

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

"Come on at a footpace! d'ye mind me? And if you've got holsters to that saddle o' yourn, don't let me see your hand go nigh 'em. For I'm a devil at a quick mistake, and when I make one it takes the form of Lead. So now let's look at you."

The figures of a horse and rider came slowly through the eddying mist, and came to the side of the mail, where the passenger stood. The rider stooped, and, casting up his eyes at the guard, handed the passenger a small folded paper. The rider's horse was blown, and both horse and rider were covered with mud, from the hoofs of the horse to the hat of the man.

"Guard!" said, the passenger in a tone of quiet business confidence.

The watchful guard, with his right hand at the stock of his raised blunderbuss, his left at the barrel, and his eye on the horseman, answered curtly, "Sir."

"There is nothing to apprehend. I belong to Tellson's Bank. You must know Tellson's Bank in London. I am going to Paris on business. A crown to drink. I may read this?"

"If so be as you're quick, sir."

He opened it in the light of the coach-lamp on that side, and read—first to himself and then aloud: "'Wait at Dover for Mam'selle.' It's not long, you see, guard. Jerry, say that my answer was, Recalled to life."

Jerry started in his saddle. "That's a Blazing strange answer, too," said he, at his hoarsest.

"Take that message back, and they will know that I received this, as well as if I wrote. Make the best of your way. Good night."

With those words the passenger opened the coach-door and got in; not at all assisted by his fellow-passengers, who had expeditiously secreted their watches and purses in their boots, and were now making a general pretence of being asleep. With no more definite purpose than to escape the hazard of originating any other kind of action.

Correct the bolded and underlined sentence.

"Guard!" said the passenger in a tone of quiet, business confidence.

"Guard!" said, the passenger in a tone of quiet business confidence.

"Guard!" said the passenger in a tone of quiet business confidence.

"Guard!" said the passenger in a tone, of quiet business confidence.

"Guard!" said the passenger, in a tone of quiet business confidence.

"Guard!" said the passenger, in a tone of quiet business confidence.

Explanation:

There needs to be a comma after passenger because the next part is a non-restrictive clause. There is no need for a comma after tone, said, and quiet because it breaks up the sentence incorrectly. However, a comma is necessary because of the restrictive clause.

### Example Question #2 : Commas

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

The passenger booked by this history, was on the coach-step, getting in; the two other passengers were close behind him, and about to follow. He remained on the step, half in the coach and half out of; they remained in the road below him. They all looked from the coachman to the guard, and from the guard to the coachman, and listened. The coachman looked back and the guard looked back, and even the emphatic leader pricked up his ears and looked back, without contradicting.

The stillness consequent on the cessation of the rumbling and labouring of the coach, added to the stillness of the night, made it very quiet indeed. The panting of the horses communicated a tremulous motion to the coach, as if it were in a state of agitation. The hearts of the passengers beat loud enough perhaps to be heard; but at any rate, the quiet pause was audibly expressive of people out of breath, and holding the breath, and having the pulses quickened by expectation.

The sound of a horse at a gallop came fast and furiously up the hill.

"So-ho!" the guard sang out, as loud as he could roar. "Yo there! Stand! I shall fire!"

The pace was suddenly checked, and, with much splashing and floundering, a man's voice called from the mist, "Is that the Dover mail?"

"Never you mind what it is!" the guard retorted. "What are you?"

"Is that the Dover mail?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"I want a passenger, if it is."

"What passenger?"

"Mr. Jarvis Lorry."

Our booked passenger showed in a moment that it was his name. The guard the coachman and the two other passengers eyed him distrustfully.

"Keep where you are," the guard called to the voice in the mist, "because, if I should make a mistake, it could never be set right in your lifetime. Gentleman of the name of Lorry answer straight."

"What is the matter?" asked the passenger, then, with mildly quavering speech. "Who wants me? Is it Jerry?"

("I don't like Jerry's voice, if it is Jerry," growled the guard to himself. "He's hoarser than suits me, is Jerry.")

"Yes, Mr. Lorry."

"What is the matter?

Correct the bolded and underlined portion of the text.

The guard, the coachman, the two other passengers eyed him distrustfully.

The guard, the coachman, and the two other passengers eyed him distrustfully.

The guard the coachman and the two other passengers eyed him distrustfully.

The guard the coachman, and the two other passengers eyed him distrustfully.

The guard, the coachman, and, the two other passengers eyed him distrustfully.

The guard, the coachman, and the two other passengers eyed him distrustfully.

Explanation:

A list of words requires a comma after each item but the last item. For example pear, apple, grape, and orange - as you can see, there is a comma after each fruit but the last, orange. In the question sentence there needs to be a comma after "guard" and after "coachmen."

### Example Question #5 : Commas

In this popular car ad a pony stands against a rural prairie backdrop. He is flashing a set of gold teeth. Dark, clouds overhead indicate the arrival of a rainstorm. In the top right hand corner of the ad, the tagline reads: “Now in the Prairies. The urban-inspired, 2009 Forota Hattrick.” Created for the Canadian Prairie Forota Dealers organization by an advertising firm; this ad is one in a series of three, each of which feature farm animals sporting so-called “urban-inspired” accessories: a pony with a grill, a sheep with an afro pick, and a cow with a Band-Aid under his left eye (reminiscent of the one once regularly worn by rapper Nelly).

The urban pony ad has a dark color scheme that is more muted then saturated. The dark background emphasizes the sparkle bouncing off the pony’s grill. There’s also a strong contrast between the images’ foreground and background. While the environment is hazy and its details soft, the pony is seen up close, a bright light source illuminating texture in the individual strands of its hair and the indentations in its gold teeth. Overall, the image of the pony is highly stylized—particularly in contrast—with its visually subdued surroundings. The pony’s aestheticized or artificial qualities being at odds with its rural environment.

On the other hand, there are also visual cues indicating affinity between the animal and its surroundings. For example, the shape of its teeth are echoed in a faint yellow rectangular shape floating in the sky. The pattern of shadow and light mottling the pony’s cheek bones also mimics the pattern of dark and light in the gathering storm clouds. This might suggest that the animal is being allied with its natural, prairie setting. The storm, however, contains its own ambiguity: though it is a part of nature, it can also be read as foreboding symbol signally the arrival of the urban-inspired car. These visual details serve to simultaneously place the pony within and alienate it from its surroundings.

Select the answer that best corrects the underlined sentence.

The sentence contains no error.

In this popular car ad a pony stands against a rural prairie backdrop.

In this popular car ad, a pony stands against a rural, prairie backdrop.

In this popular car ad a pony stands, against a rural, prairie backdrop.

In this popular car ad, a pony stands against a rural prairie backdrop.

In this popular car ad, a pony stands against a rural prairie backdrop.

Explanation:

The sentence requires a comma after "ad" in order to offset an introductory prepositional phrase of more than four words ("In this popular car ad").

Though students might be tempted to put a comma between "rural" and "prairie" because they are both adjectives, in this case, "rural" modifies "prairie" and not "backdrop."

### Example Question #6 : Commas

In this popular car ad a pony stands against a rural prairie backdrop. He is flashing a set of gold teeth. Dark, clouds overhead indicate the arrival of a rainstorm. In the top right hand corner of the ad, the tagline reads: “Now in the Prairies. The urban-inspired, 2009 Forota Hattrick.” Created for the Canadian Prairie Forota Dealers organization by an advertising firm; this ad is one in a series of three, each of which feature farm animals sporting so-called “urban-inspired” accessories: a pony with a grill, a sheep with an afro pick, and a cow with a Band-Aid under his left eye (reminiscent of the one once regularly worn by rapper Nelly).

The urban pony ad has a dark color scheme that is more muted then saturated. The dark background emphasizes the sparkle bouncing off the pony’s grill. There’s also a strong contrast between the images’ foreground and background. While the environment is hazy and its details soft, the pony is seen up close, a bright light source illuminating texture in the individual strands of its hair and the indentations in its gold teeth. Overall, the image of the pony is highly stylized—particularly in contrast—with its visually subdued surroundings. The pony’s aestheticized or artificial qualities being at odds with its rural environment.

On the other hand, there are also visual cues indicating affinity between the animal and its surroundings. For example, the shape of its teeth are echoed in a faint yellow rectangular shape floating in the sky. The pattern of shadow and light mottling the pony’s cheek bones also mimics the pattern of dark and light in the gathering storm clouds. This might suggest that the animal is being allies with its natural, prairie setting. The storm, however, contains its own ambiguity: though it is a part of nature, it can also be read as foreboding symbol signally the arrival of the urban-inspired car. These visual details serve to simultaneously place the pony within and alienate it from its surroundings.

Select the answer that best corrects the underlined sentence.

While the environment is hazy and its details soft the pony is seen up close a bright light source illuminating texture in the individual strands of its hair and the indentations in its gold teeth.

While the environment is hazy and its details soft, the pony is seen up close a bright light source illuminating texture in the individual strands of its hair and the indentations in its gold teeth.

While the environment is hazy and its details soft, the pony is seen, up close, a bright light source illuminating texture in the individual strands of its hair and the indentations in its gold teeth.

The sentence contains no error.

While the environment is hazy and its details soft; the pony is seen up close, a bright light source illuminating texture in the individual strands of its hair and the indentations in its gold teeth.

The sentence contains no error.

Explanation:

The first comma after "soft" offsets an introductory subordinate clause (the adverb "while" makes it a subordinate clause). Everything that follows after the second comma is a participle phrase modifying the subject of the main clause ("the pony").

Student might be tempted to select the answer that offsets "up close" with parenthetical commas. This is incorrect because logically "up close" is inseparable from the main clause: without "up close," there would be no contrast to the "hazy," "soft" details outlined in the first half of the sentence, which would make the word "while" nonsensical. While grammatically offsetting "up close" with commas is sound, reading for meaning makes it impossible in this case.

### Example Question #3 : Commas

In this popular car ad a pony stands against a rural prairie backdrop. He is flashing a set of gold teeth. Dark, clouds overhead indicate the arrival of a rainstorm. In the top right hand corner of the ad, the tagline reads: “Now in the Prairies. The urban-inspired, 2009 Forota Hattrick.” Created for the Canadian Prairie Forota Dealers organization by an advertising firm; this ad is one in a series of three, each of which feature farm animals sporting so-called “urban-inspired” accessories: a pony with a grill, a sheep with an afro pick, and a cow with a Band-Aid under his left eye (reminiscent of the one once regularly worn by rapper Nelly).

The urban pony ad has a dark color scheme that is more muted then saturated. The dark background emphasizes the sparkle bouncing off the pony’s grill. There’s also a strong contrast between the images’ foreground and background. While the environment is hazy and its details soft, the pony is seen up close, a bright light source illuminating texture in the individual strands of its hair and the indentations in its gold teeth. Overall, the image of the pony is highly stylized—particularly in contrast—with its visually subdued surroundings. The pony’s aestheticized or artificial qualities being at odds with its rural environment.

On the other hand, there are also visual cues indicating affinity between the animal and its surroundings. For example, the shape of its teeth are echoed in a faint yellow rectangular shape floating in the sky. The pattern of shadow and light mottling the pony’s cheek bones also mimics the pattern of dark and light in the gathering storm clouds. This might suggest that the animal is being allies with its natural, prairie setting. The storm, however, contains its own ambiguity: though it is a part of nature, it can also be read as foreboding symbol signally the arrival of the urban-inspired car. These visual details serve to simultaneously place the pony within and alienate it from its surroundings.

Select the answer that best corrects the underlined sentence.

Overall, the image of the pony is highly stylized, particularly in contrast with its visually subdued surroundings.

Overall the image of the pony is highly stylized particularly in contrast with its visually subdued surroundings.

Overall, the image of the pony is highly stylized—particularly in contrast with its visually subdued surroundings.

Overall the image of the pony is highly stylized, particularly, in contrast with its visually subdued surroundings.

The sentence contains no error.

Overall, the image of the pony is highly stylized, particularly in contrast with its visually subdued surroundings.

Explanation:

In the original sentence, the dashes offsetting the parenthetical is nonsensical. Everything following "particularly" is an adverbial phrase modifying the adjective "stylized." It's therefore offset by a comma.

### Example Question #8 : Commas

In this popular car ad a pony stands against a rural prairie backdrop. He is flashing a set of gold teeth. Dark, clouds overhead indicate the arrival of a rainstorm. In the top right hand corner of the ad, the tagline reads: “Now in the Prairies. The urban-inspired, 2009 Forota Hattrick.” Created for the Canadian Prairie Forota Dealers organization by an advertising firm; this ad is one in a series of three, each of which feature farm animals sporting so-called “urban-inspired” accessories: a pony with a grill, a sheep with an afro pick, and a cow with a Band-Aid under his left eye (reminiscent of the one once regularly worn by rapper Nelly).

The urban pony ad has a dark color scheme that is more muted then saturated. The dark background emphasizes the sparkle bouncing off the pony’s grill. There’s also a strong contrast between the images’ foreground and background. While the environment is hazy and its details soft, the pony is seen up close, a bright light source illuminating texture in the individual strands of its hair and the indentations in its gold teeth. Overall, the image of the pony is highly stylized—particularly in contrast—with its visually subdued surroundings. The pony’s aestheticized or artificial qualities being at odds with its rural environment.

On the other hand, there are also visual cues indicating affinity between the animal and its surroundings. For example, the shape of its teeth are echoed in a faint yellow rectangular shape floating in the sky. The pattern of shadow and light mottling the pony’s cheek bones also mimics the pattern of dark and light in the gathering storm clouds. This might suggest that the animal is being allies with its natural, prairie setting. The storm, however, contains its own ambiguity: though it is a part of nature, it can also be read as foreboding symbol signally the arrival of the urban-inspired car. These visual details serve to simultaneously place the pony within and alienate it from its surroundings.

Select the answer that best corrects the highlighted sentence.

For example, the shape of its teeth are echoed in a faint, yellow rectangular shape floating in the sky.

For example, the shape of its teeth are echoed in a faint, yellow, rectangular shape floating in the sky.

For example, the shape of its teeth are echoed in a faint (yellow rectangular) shape floating in the sky.

The sentence contains no error.

For example, the shape of its teeth are echoed in a faint-yellow, rectangular shape floating in the sky.

For example, the shape of its teeth are echoed in a faint, yellow, rectangular shape floating in the sky.

Explanation:

"Faint," "yellow," and "rectangular" are all adjectives of equal weight modifying the noun "shape." They therefore need to be separated by commas.

### Example Question #4 : Commas

Passage adapted from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

Gardening, walks, rows on the river, and flower hunts employed the fine days, and for rainy ones, they had house diversions, some old, some new, all more or less original. One of these was the P.C', for as secret societies were the fashion, it was thought proper to have one, and as all of the girls admired Dickens, they called themselves the Pickwick Club. With a few interruptions, they had kept this up for a year, and met every Saturday evening in the big garret, on which occasions the ceremonies were as follows: Three chairs were arranged in a row before a table on which was a lamp, also four white badges, with a big P.C.' in different colors on each, and the weekly newspaper called, The Pickwick Portfolio, to which all contributed something, while Jo, who reveled in pens and ink, was the editor. At seven o'clock, the four members ascended to the clubroom, tied their badges round their heads, and took their seats with great solemnity. Meg, as the eldest, was Samuel Pickwick, Jo, being of a literary turn, Augustus Snodgrass, Beth, because she was round and rosy, Tracy Tupman, and Amy, who was always trying to do what she couldn't, was Nathaniel Winkle. Pickwick, the president, read the paper, which was filled with original tales, poetry, local news, funny advertisements, and hints, in which they good-naturedly reminded each other of their faults and short comings. On one occasion, Mr. Pickwick put on a pair of spectacles without any glass, rapped upon the table, hemmed, and having stared hard at Mr. Snodgrass, who was tilting back in his chair, till he arranged himself properly, began to read:

Correct the bolded and underlined section of the passage.

(no change)

Gardening walks, rows on the river and flower hunts employed the fine days

Gardening walks rows on the river, and flower hunts employed the fine days

Gardening, walks rows on the river and flower hunts employed the fine days

Gardening, walks, rows on the river, and flower hunts, employed the fine days

(no change)

Explanation:

A series of things, in this case "gardening, walks, rows on the river, and flower hunts," must have a comma after each item in the list except the last item. Therefore, there must be a comma after gardening and walks and rows on the rivers but not after flower hunts.

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