PSAT Writing : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas for Dependent Clauses

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #672 : Act English

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

The fourth place finisher at the Olympics receives nothing, but the satisfaction of representing their country and competing.

Possible Answers:

The fourth place finisher at the Olympics receives nothing, but the satisfaction of represented his or her country and competing.

The fourth place finisher at the Olympics receives nothing but the satisfaction of representing his or her country and competing.

The fourth place finisher at an Olympics receives nothing, but the satisfaction of representing his or her country and competing.

The fourth place finisher at the Olympics receives nothing, but the satisfaction of representing his or her country and competing.

The fourth place finisher at the Olympics receives nothing, but the satisfaction of representing his or her country, and competing.

Correct answer:

The fourth place finisher at the Olympics receives nothing but the satisfaction of representing his or her country and competing.

Explanation:

Inserting a comma between "nothing" and "but" is incorrect, as the sentence is one complete thought, and should not be broken up by a comma. The only thing that needs to be changed is that the comma needs to be removed from the sentence. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "The fourth place finisher at the Olympics receives nothing but the satisfaction of representing his or her country and competing."

Example Question #673 : Act English

The manager had the deplorable habit of spitting constantly wherever he felt like it.

Possible Answers:

spitting constantly wherever he felt like it.

spitting constantly wherever he feels like it.

spits constantly wherever he felt like it.

spits constantly, wherever he felt like it.

spitting constantly, wherever he felt like it.

Correct answer:

spitting constantly, wherever he felt like it.

Explanation:

The phrase "wherever he felt like it" is a dependent clause that explains more about the main body of the sentence. All dependent clauses must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by a comma. As such, "spitting constantly, wherever he felt like it" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #674 : Act English

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

The issue proved to be a hot topic for years as ten years later it was still being debated in leading universities.

Possible Answers:

The issue proved to be a hot topic for years, ten years later it was still being debated in leading universities.

The issue proved to be a hot topic for years and ten years later it was still being debated in leading universities.

The issue proved to be a hot topic for years so ten years later it was still being debated in leading universities.

The issue proved to be a hot topic for years, as ten years later it was still being debated in leading universities.

The issue proved to be a hot topic for years as ten years later it was still being debated in leading universities.

Correct answer:

The issue proved to be a hot topic for years, as ten years later it was still being debated in leading universities.

Explanation:

The sentence in the question is a compound sentence, one that joins two complete thoughts to show their relationship to each other. While the conjunction "as" connects the two parts, it also needs a comma to join the two thoughts together correctly. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "The issue proved to be a hot topic for years, as ten years later it was still being debated in leading universities."

Example Question #675 : Act English

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

Home cooks are at a disadvantage to professional chefs because the quality of their equipment is not at the same level.

Possible Answers:

Home cooks are at a disadvantage to professional chefs as the quality of their equipment is not at the same level.

Home cooks are at a disadvantage to professional chefs because the quality of their equipment, not at the same level.

Home cooks are at a disadvantage to professional chefs because the quality of their equipment is not at the same level.

Home cooks are at a disadvantage to professional chefs, because the quality of their equipment is not at the same level.

Home cooks, are at a disadvantage to professional chefs, because the quality of their equipment is not at the same level.

Correct answer:

Home cooks are at a disadvantage to professional chefs, because the quality of their equipment is not at the same level.

Explanation:

The sentence is written as a compound sentence, containing two complete independent clauses, but does not properly connect them. A compound sentence must be connected either by a semicolon or a comma and conjunction, which in this sentence is "because." Therefore, the correct answer choice is "Home cooks are at a disadvantage to professional chefs, because the quality of their equipment is not at the same level."

Example Question #5 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

Under the circumstances, people were completely willing to eat the poor meat as it was all they had to eat.

Possible Answers:

the poor meat was all they had to eat.

the poor meat, as it was all they had to eat.

the poor meat as it was all they had to eat.

the poor meat as it was all they had for eating.

the poor meat it was all they had to eat.

Correct answer:

the poor meat, as it was all they had to eat.

Explanation:

The phrase "as it was all they had to eat" is used as an explanatory phrase, which is unnecessary to the construction of the sentence. Such a phrase needs to be set apart from the rest of the sentence by a comma; therefore, the correct answer is "the poor meat, as it was all they had to eat."

Example Question #676 : Act English

Replace the 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.

Unlike his contemporaries, the author abhorred fancy displays of his verbal acuity preferring to use simplified language.

Possible Answers:

displaying of his verbal acuity preferring to use simplified language.

displays of his verbal acuity, preferring to use simplified language.

displays of his verbal acuity preferring to use a simplified language.

displays of his verbal acuity preferring to use simplified language.

displays of his verbal acuity preferring to use simplifying language.

Correct answer:

displays of his verbal acuity, preferring to use simplified language.

Explanation:

The phrase "preferring to use simplifying language" is a dependent clause, a clause that cannot be used as a complete sentence but instead relies on other information. Although it cannot stand alone, it still needs to be separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma; therefore, the correct answer is " displays of his verbal acuity, preferring to use simplified language."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

Replace the 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.

No one had a better curveball than the youngest kid which allowed him to compete with bigger boys in baseball.

Possible Answers:

than the youngest of the kids that allowed him

than the youngest kid, which allowing him

than the youngest kid, which allowed him

than the youngest kid which allowed him

than the youngest kid that allowed him

Correct answer:

than the youngest kid, which allowed him

Explanation:

The only problem with the sentence is that it is a compound sentence, shoved into a run on sentence. The sentence consists of two complete thoughts, joined by the conjunction "which." All such sentences must be divided by a comma before the conjunction, making "than the youngest kid, which allowed him" the correct answer choice.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The President initially vetoed the bill, in order to force Congress to revise it; he felt significant changes in the first clause would create more benefits for the working middle classNo error

Possible Answers:

revise it; he felt

No error

middle class

bill, in

initially

Correct answer:

bill, in

Explanation:

A comma is not needed between independent and dependent clauses when the independent clause comes first: "The President initially vetoed the bill in order . . ."

Example Question #3 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

Replace the 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 repeats the underlined portion as it is written.

He typically worked late with the only exception being Fridays.

Possible Answers:

He typically worked late with the only exception being Fridays.

He typically worked, late with the only exception being Fridays.

He, typically, worked late with the only exception being Fridays.

He typically worked late with the only exception, being Fridays.

He typically worked late, with the only exception being Fridays.

Correct answer:

He typically worked late, with the only exception being Fridays.

Explanation:

The phrase "with the only exception being Fridays" is a dependent clause, and needs to be clearly distinguished from the main clause of the sentence. The best way to do this is by setting a comma between the two parts. The only answer choice that correctly places a comma in the sentence is "He typically worked late, with the only exception being Fridays."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

Replace the 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.

The former bandleader still dreamed about conducting an ensemble despite having none to conduct.

Possible Answers:

The former bandleader still dreamed about conducting an ensemble, despite having none to conduct.

The former bandleader still dreamed about conducting an ensemble despite having none to conduct.

The former bandleader, still dreamed about conducting an ensemble, despite having none to conduct.

The former bandleader still dreams about conducting an ensemble despite having none to conduct.

The former bandleader still dreamed around conducting an ensemble despite having none to conduct.

Correct answer:

The former bandleader still dreamed about conducting an ensemble, despite having none to conduct.

Explanation:

The phrase "despite having none to conduct" is a dependent clause, a clause that cannot stand as a complete sentence on its own, but provides extra explanation to the body of the sentence. A dependent clause always needs to be set apart from the rest of the sentence by a comma. The only answer choice that does this is "The former bandleader still dreamed about conducting an ensemble despite having none to conduct."

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