SAT Writing : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #291 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Please select the underlined portion of the sentence with errors, or select "no error" if the sentence has no errors.

The customer did not correctly understand the promotion, she expected to get half price on both items.

Possible Answers:

get half price

did not correctly

No error

promotion, she

Correct answer:

promotion, she

Explanation:

This sentence is a run-on, and should be split into two sentences with the appropriate punctuation, or given a proper conjunction.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

Please select the underlined portion of the sentence with errors, or select "no error" if the sentence has no errors.

Although we frequently camp at the State Park, the National Park is our favorite place to visit, it has the longest mountain range in the country. 

Possible Answers:

Although we

the longest

No error

visit, it

Correct answer:

visit, it

Explanation:

Commas can only be used between dependent and independent clauses. When a comma splits two independent clauses, as in this question, it becomes a "comma splice", and is gramatically incorrect. Either a period or semi-colon should be used.

Example Question #633 : Act English

In the sciences, students need to see a lab early in college, in the humanities, archives do not need to be seen until they are upperclassmen.

Possible Answers:

In the sciences, students need to see a lab early in college; in the humanities, archives do not need to be seen until they are upperclassmen.

In the sciences, students need to see a lab early in college, in the humanities, archives do not need to be seen until they are upperclassmen.

In the sciences, students need to see a lab early in college in the humanities, archives do not need to be seen until they are upperclassmen.

In the sciences, students need to see a lab early in college, the humanities, archives do not need to be seen until they are upperclassmen.

In the sciences, students need to see a lab early in college, also in the humanities, archives do not need to be seen until they are upperclassmen.

Correct answer:

In the sciences, students need to see a lab early in college; in the humanities, archives do not need to be seen until they are upperclassmen.

Explanation:

The sentence as presented is actually two complete thoughts united in one sentence, which is done to contrast the two thoughts. In these instances, the thoughts should be broken up more concretely than by one comma. The correct answer choice utilizes a semi-colon to unite the two sentences in one.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

Feudal lords were not all horrible bosses, many relied too much on their subjects.

Possible Answers:

bosses many relied 

bosses' many relied

bosses, so many relied

bosses, many relied

bosses; many relied

Correct answer:

bosses; many relied

Explanation:

The sentence actually contains two complete sentences, which are placed together to show their thematic ties. Any such complex sentence must be joined either by a comma and conjunction or a semi-colon. The only answer choice containing such a construction is "bosses; many relied."

Example Question #5 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

Select the answer that produces the most effective sentence, one that is clear and exact, without awkwardness or ambiguity.

I walked into the drugstore and requested the latest medication, the clerk had to look in the back.

Possible Answers:

the latest medication which the clerk, looking in the back, found.

the latest medication. The clerk had to look in the back.

the latest medication; which the clerk had to look in the back for.

the latest medication, the clerk had to look in the back.

the latest medication, which the clerk would have to look in the back for.

Correct answer:

the latest medication. The clerk had to look in the back.

Explanation:

Two dependent clauses cannot be separated with a comma: here a semi-colon or period would be appropriate. Between answers with proper puncutation, choose the simplest one which keeps the meaning of the original sentence.

Example Question #1512 : Improving Sentences

Choose the best way to rephrase the underlined portion of the sentence. One of the answer choices repeats the original phrasing.

The sentence “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” was composed by Noam Chomsky as a demonstration that grammatical correctness is separable from semantic meaning, while the sentence is nonsensical, it clearly follows the rules of English grammar.

Possible Answers:

meaning, although the sentence is being nonsensical, it

meaning, while the sentence is nonsensical, it

meaning; although nonsensical, this sentence

meaning; while the sentence is nonsensical, it

meaning; although the sentence is being nonsensical, it

Correct answer:

meaning; although nonsensical, this sentence

Explanation:

The best answer fixes the comma splice, uses a more logical coordinator (“although”), and is more concise.

Example Question #7 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

Select the answer that produces the most effective sentence, one that is clear and exact, without awkwardness or ambiguity.

No one understand me like my dog Harry, he always is sad when I leave.

Possible Answers:

my dog Harry: he is always sad when I leave.

my dog Harry, he always is sad when I leave.

my dog Harry. Who always is sad when I leave.

my dog Harry, when left is always sad.

my dog Harry, having been always sad when I leave.

Correct answer:

my dog Harry: he is always sad when I leave.

Explanation:

Two complete phrases should not be separated by a comma: instead a semi-colon, colon, or period should be used. Choose the answer which separates the phrases and otherwise makes grammatical sense.

Example Question #151 : Comma Errors

Mountain climbing is not an activity to be taken lightly, many people get injured every year while climbing.

Possible Answers:

to be taken lightly many people

being taken lightly, too many people

to be taken lightly, as many people

to be taken lightly, many people

being taken lightly, many people

Correct answer:

to be taken lightly, as many people

Explanation:

The sentence is compound, meaning it is composed of two complete sentences joined together for effect. Compound sentences, though, must be joined by either a semicolon or a comma and a conjunction. Using "as" for its conjunction, "to be taken lightly, as many people" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #9 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

The books were kept in terrible shape, none of them could be read all the through.

Possible Answers:

in terrible shape,  and none of them

in terrible shape to none of them

in terrible shape none of them

in terrible shape, none of them

in terrible shape as none of them

Correct answer:

in terrible shape,  and none of them

Explanation:

This sentence is a compound sentence, a sentence that joins two complete thoughts to demonstrate their relationship. All compound sentences must be joined together either by a semicolon or a comma and a conjunction. Of the answer choice, only "in terrible shape, and none of them" appropriately joins the two parts.

Example Question #3 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

The exterminator bragged about his new method for controlling rats, the method improved on its precedents by being done more quickly.

Possible Answers:

The exterminator bragged about his new method for controlling rats in the method improved on its precedents by being done more quickly.

The exterminator bragged about his new method for controlling rats, the method improved on its precedents by being done more quickly.

The exterminator bragged about his new method for controlling rats the method improved on its precedents by being done more quickly.

The exterminator bragged about his new method for controlling rats; the method improved on its precedents by being done more quickly.

The exterminator bragged about his new method for controlling rats: the method improved on its precedents by being done more quickly.

Correct answer:

The exterminator bragged about his new method for controlling rats; the method improved on its precedents by being done more quickly.

Explanation:

The sentence is a compound sentence, featuring two complete, but intimately related, thoughts as one sentence. To properly connect the two parts, either a semicolon or a comma and a conjunction need to be used between the sections. Therefore, the correct answer is "The exterminator bragged about his new method for controlling rats; the method improved on its precedents by being done more quickly."

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