ACT English : Comma Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #231 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

In 1929, E.F. Lindquist, a professor in the University of Iowa College of Education, began designing tests for the Iowa Academic Meet. The purpose of the meet was to identify exemplary high school students. Test-takers began with a first round of testing. This round occurred during the school day and covered ten core academic subjects. Students who scored well in the first round participated in district-level tests that were more difficult. High-scorers from the second round participated in a third round of testing. The top ten students in each subject area were rewarded with medals at a banquet. Although the test was a success, Lindquist wanted to reduce the competitive aspect of the test. To achieve this goal, Lindquist renamed the test the Iowa Every-Pupil Achievement Testing Program.

The tests popularity provided Lindquist with the opportunity to study how to best write, administer, and score a standardized test. However, Lindquist was not yet satisfied. He grew concerned that the test focused too much on rote memorization of content rather than on skill development. Lindquist began to work on a test for middle school students that would test skills. This test which was first administered in 1935 became known as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. In 1942, the Every-Pupil test is discontinued and replaced with the Iowa Tests of Educational Development. As Lindquist had hoped, this test focused on testing skills rather than pure content memorization.

By the late 1950s, Lindquist had gained significant renown in the world of standardized testing, so he became involved in the process of developing a college admissions testing program. Although the SAT had been a commonly used admissions test since 1926, it was primarily marketed in the northeast and used as an admissions test for universities in that region. Schools outside this area used a variety of different tests that covered different content and was administered at different times. This led to unreliable results.

In 1958, that a standardized, national test be developed was proposed by Lindquist. He also hoped that, unlike the SAT, the new test would measure academic achievement so that it could be used to gauge each student’s level of preparation for college-level work.

Lindquist and a man named Ted McCarrel began developing the new test. One of McCarrel's main jobs was contacting admissions officers and convincing schools to use the new test. However, like the SAT, the ACT began as a regional test. Unlike the SAT, however, it was primarily used in the Midwest. With time and effort, the test became more popular in other parts of the country.

In 1959, the ACT was administered for the first time. The test was similar to the Iowa Tests of Educational Development. It consisted of four parts; English, math, social studies, and natural science. The social studies and natural science portions required students to interpret readings from each field; thus, Lindquist was able to maintain his goal of testing skills rather than memorized facts. Students had forty-five minutes to complete each section of the test. The ACT quickly became a staple of the college admissions process. In the first year, 132,963 students took the test, and that number grew in subsequent years.

Today, many colleges and universities in the U.S. accept ACT results from students applying for admission. So, don't worry! I'm sure your college will accept it too!

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:

goal Lindquist

goal; Lindquist

NO CHANGE

goal, Lindquist,

goal. Lindquist

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

The phrase "To achieve this goal" is a dependent clause that must be attached to an independent clause (a clause with a subject and a predicate that can stand on its own). Dependent clauses are attached to independent clauses using a comma. Semi-colons can only be used when the pieces before and after the semi-colon are independent clauses. The same is true of period. Adding a comma after Lindquist, as in "goal, Lindquist," creates an unnecessary pause.

Example Question #91 : Comma Errors

In 1929, E.F. Lindquist, a professor in the University of Iowa College of Education, began designing tests for the Iowa Academic Meet. The purpose of the meet was to identify exemplary high school students. Test-takers began with a first round of testing. This round occurred during the school day and covered ten core academic subjects. Students who scored well in the first round participated in district-level tests that were more difficult. High-scorers from the second round participated in a third round of testing. The top ten students in each subject area were rewarded with medals at a banquet. Although the test was a success, Lindquist wanted to reduce the competitive aspect of the test. To achieve this goal, Lindquist renamed the test the Iowa Every-Pupil Achievement Testing Program.

The tests popularity provided Lindquist with the opportunity to study how to best write, administer, and score a standardized test. However, Lindquist was not yet satisfied. He grew concerned that the test focused too much on rote memorization of content rather than on skill development. Lindquist began to work on a test for middle school students that would test skills. This test which was first administered in 1935 became known as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. In 1942, the Every-Pupil test is discontinued and replaced with the Iowa Tests of Educational Development. As Lindquist had hoped, this test focused on testing skills rather than pure content memorization.

By the late 1950s, Lindquist had gained significant renown in the world of standardized testing, so he became involved in the process of developing a college admissions testing program. Although the SAT had been a commonly used admissions test since 1926, it was primarily marketed in the northeast and used as an admissions test for universities in that region. Schools outside this area used a variety of different tests that covered different content and was administered at different times. This led to unreliable results.

In 1958, that a standardized, national test be developed was proposed by Lindquist. He also hoped that, unlike the SAT, the new test would measure academic achievement so that it could be used to gauge each student’s level of preparation for college-level work.

Lindquist and a man named Ted McCarrel began developing the new test. One of McCarrel's main jobs was contacting admissions officers and convincing schools to use the new test. However, like the SAT, the ACT began as a regional test. Unlike the SAT, however, it was primarily used in the Midwest. With time and effort, the test became more popular in other parts of the country.

In 1959, the ACT was administered for the first time. The test was similar to the Iowa Tests of Educational Development. It consisted of four parts; English, math, social studies, and natural science. The social studies and natural science portions required students to interpret readings from each field; thus, Lindquist was able to maintain his goal of testing skills rather than memorized facts. Students had forty-five minutes to complete each section of the test. The ACT quickly became a staple of the college admissions process. In the first year, 132,963 students took the test, and that number grew in subsequent years.

Today, many colleges and universities in the U.S. accept ACT results from students applying for admission. So, don't worry! I'm sure your college will accept it too!

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:

NO CHANGE

This test which was first administered in 1935, became

This test; which was first administered in 1935, became

This test, which was first administered in 1935 became

This test, which was first administered in 1935, became

Correct answer:

This test, which was first administered in 1935, became

Explanation:

The phrase "which was first administered in 1935" is a non-restrictive clause. This means that it is not necessary for the sentence to make sense. Non-restrictive clauses are separated from the rest of a sentence with commas on each end. A good way to identify non-restrictive clauses is to read the sentence without the clause. If it still makes sense, the clause in question is probably a non-restrictive clause.

A semicolon cannot be used because semicolons must separate two independent clauses (two clauses with a subject and a predicate).

Example Question #92 : Comma Errors

In 1929, E.F. Lindquist, a professor in the University of Iowa College of Education, began designing tests for the Iowa Academic Meet. The purpose of the meet was to identify exemplary high school students. Test-takers began with a first round of testing. This round occurred during the school day and covered ten core academic subjects. Students who scored well in the first round participated in district-level tests that were more difficult. High-scorers from the second round participated in a third round of testing. The top ten students in each subject area were rewarded with medals at a banquet. Although the test was a success, Lindquist wanted to reduce the competitive aspect of the test. To achieve this goal, Lindquist renamed the test the Iowa Every-Pupil Achievement Testing Program.

The tests popularity provided Lindquist with the opportunity to study how to best write, administer, and score a standardized test. However, Lindquist was not yet satisfied. He grew concerned that the test focused too much on rote memorization of content rather than on skill development. Lindquist began to work on a test for middle school students that would test skills. This test which was first administered in 1935 became known as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. In 1942, the Every-Pupil test is discontinued and replaced with the Iowa Tests of Educational Development. As Lindquist had hoped, this test focused on testing skills rather than pure content memorization.

By the late 1950s, Lindquist had gained significant renown in the world of standardized testing, so he became involved in the process of developing a college admissions testing program. Although the SAT had been a commonly used admissions test since 1926, it was primarily marketed in the northeast and used as an admissions test for universities in that region. Schools outside this area used a variety of different tests that covered different content and was administered at different times. This led to unreliable results.

In 1958, that a standardized, national test be developed was proposed by Lindquist. He also hoped that, unlike the SAT, the new test would measure academic achievement so that it could be used to gauge each student’s level of preparation for college-level work.

Lindquist and a man named Ted McCarrel began developing the new test. One of McCarrel's main jobs was contacting admissions officers and convincing schools to use the new test. However, like the SAT, the ACT began as a regional test. Unlike the SAT, however, it was primarily used in the Midwest. With time and effort, the test became more popular in other parts of the country.

In 1959, the ACT was administered for the first time. The test was similar to the Iowa Tests of Educational Development. It consisted of four parts; English, math, social studies, and natural science. The social studies and natural science portions required students to interpret readings from each field; thus, Lindquist was able to maintain his goal of testing skills rather than memorized facts. Students had forty-five minutes to complete each section of the test. The ACT quickly became a staple of the college admissions process. In the first year, 132,963 students took the test, and that number grew in subsequent years.

Today, many colleges and universities in the U.S. accept ACT results from students applying for admission. So, don't worry! I'm sure your college will accept it too!

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:

test. And

test? That

test. and

test and

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

When two independent clauses (clauses with a subject and a predicate) are separated with a conjunction, a comma must be placed before the conjunction. To easily remember the conjunctions that this rule applies to, just remember the acronym FANBOYS: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So.

Example Question #212 : Punctuation Errors

When the patent on Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary invention, the telephone, expired in 1894 thousands of new firms entered the telecommunication industry. Among them were a collection of profitable companies that merged to form what would later become known as The Bell System. The Bell System had amassed such weight in the industry that in 1933, when Congress passed a law declaring phone service a public utility, the Bell System quickly transformed into a monopoly. Lawmakers enthusiastic supported a series of provisions intended to stimulate competition. Appointed as the nation’s sole provider of telecommunication services, widespread criticism about the Bell System began to surface

The Federal Communications Act has so far been highly effective and the industry has grown tremendously as a result. In fact, for the past three years, the profitability of the largest three telecommunication companies has been greater than the largest three automotive companies. The number of calls provided by the top three companies range from five billion to six billion per day. Today, virtually everyone has made a phone call over the course of their lives. Most people do not know, however, that payment for swaths of electromagnetic wavelengths have become commonplace.

One explanation for such high call volume and large profits is that calls are becoming much less expensive for companies to provide, regardless for many large fixed expenses such as communication towers, base stations, and paying for utility poles. Over the last century, telephones had become an important part of modern society. In fact, the cost of delivering one telephone call today is about a thousandth of the cost in the 1950s. The increasing affordability and abundance of phone calls mark the progress made since the time of Alexander Graham Bell and the Bell System.

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:

in 1894 thousands,

in, 1894 thousands

NO CHANGE

in 1894, thousands

Correct answer:

in 1894, thousands

Explanation:

An introductory phrase that is longer than three words must be followed immediately by a comma. Since "When the patent on Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary invention, the telephone, expired in 1894" is an introductory phrase, it must be followed by a comma. 

 The sentence should therefore read "When the patent on Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary invention, the telephone, expired in 1894, thousands of new firms entered the telecommunication industry." Thus, the correct answer is "in 1984, thousands." None of the other answer choices contains a comma immediately following the introductory phrase.

Example Question #213 : Punctuation Errors

When the patent on Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary invention, the telephone, expired in 1894 thousands of new firms entered the telecommunication industry. Among them were a collection of profitable companies that merged to form what would later become known as The Bell System. The Bell System had amassed such weight in the industry that in 1933, when Congress passed a law declaring phone service a public utility, the Bell System quickly transformed into a monopoly. Lawmakers enthusiastic supported a series of provisions intended to stimulate competition. Appointed as the nation’s sole provider of telecommunication services, widespread criticism about the Bell System began to surface

The Federal Communications Act has so far been highly effective and the industry has grown tremendously as a result. In fact, for the past three years, the profitability of the largest three telecommunication companies has been greater than the largest three automotive companies. The number of calls provided by the top three companies range from five billion to six billion per day. Today, virtually everyone has made a phone call over the course of their lives. Most people do not know, however, that payment for swaths of electromagnetic wavelengths have become commonplace.

One explanation for such high call volume and large profits is that calls are becoming much less expensive for companies to provide, regardless for many large fixed expenses such as communication towers, base stations, and paying for utility poles. Over the last century, telephones had become an important part of modern society. In fact, the cost of delivering one telephone call today is about a thousandth of the cost in the 1950s. The increasing affordability and abundance of phone calls mark the progress made since the time of Alexander Graham Bell and the Bell System.

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:

effective, and,

effective, and

NO CHANGE

effective and,

Correct answer:

effective, and

Explanation:

Two independent clauses, such as 1) "The Federal Communications Act has so far been highly effective" and 2) "The industry has grown tremendously as a result," can be combined using a comma immediately followed by a coordinating conjunction (such as "and" or "but"). The correct way to express the sentence is therefore "The Federal Communications Act has so far been highly effective, and the industry has grown tremendously as a result."

The original text contains an error because there is not a comma separating the two independent clauses. The answer choice "effective and," is incorrect because it contains a
comma after, rather than before, the coordinating conjunction. The answer choice "effective, and," is incorrect because it contains an unnecessary comma after the coordinating conjunction.

Example Question #232 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Alfred Tarski, born on January 14, 1901, became known during his lifetime as a brilliant mathematician and teacher. He is best known for proving several advanced geometric theorems. By the time Tarski moved to the United States, much of Europe has already fallen into the grips of World War II. Hundreds of mathematical problems were solved by Tarski.

Tarski enrolled in Warsaw University in 1920. Originally wishing to study biology, mathematics was the subject in which Tarski ultimately excelled. He graduated with honors, and began his career as a math teacher. A true mathematical virtuoso, Tarski was concerned with neither the application of his research nor publishing his findings.   

Discoveries made by Tarski influenced the work of one of the world’s greatest physicists, Albert Einstein. Einstein and Tarski had many similar interests in common. Unlike Albert Einstein, however, Tarski was especially fond for pure mathematics. Although Tarski and Einstein were contemporaries, Einstein was the most prolific writer of the two.

In 1929, Tarski married his co-worker, Maria Witkowska. An affinity for mathematics ran in the family. Tarski even admitted that his wife knew more about algebra, geometry and trigonometry than did he. Tarski's two children, Jan, and Ina, grew up to be prominent mathematicians themselves; however, neither Jan nor Ina have received a great deal of international attention.

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:

honors, and,

honors; and

honors and

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

honors and

Explanation:

We see that the subject of the sentence is "He." The sentence goes on to list two predicates: (1) "graduated with honors" and (2) "began his career as a math teacher." When we have two predicates  (i.e. a "complex predicate") and one subject, the predicates must be separated by a conjunction (such as "and" or "but"), and there should not be a comma between the two predicates.

The correct way to express the sentence is "He graduated with honors and began his career as a math teacher." The correct answer is therefore "honors and." Each of the other answer choices introduces unnecessary punctuation between the two predicates.

Example Question #241 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Alfred Tarski, born on January 14, 1901, became known during his lifetime as a brilliant mathematician and teacher. He is best known for proving several advanced geometric theorems. By the time Tarski moved to the United States, much of Europe has already fallen into the grips of World War II. Hundreds of mathematical problems were solved by Tarski.

Tarski enrolled in Warsaw University in 1920. Originally wishing to study biology, mathematics was the subject in which Tarski ultimately excelled. He graduated with honors, and began his career as a math teacher. A true mathematical virtuoso, Tarski was concerned with neither the application of his research nor publishing his findings.   

Discoveries made by Tarski influenced the work of one of the world’s greatest physicists, Albert Einstein. Einstein and Tarski had many similar interests in common. Unlike Albert Einstein, however, Tarski was especially fond for pure mathematics. Although Tarski and Einstein were contemporaries, Einstein was the most prolific writer of the two.

In 1929, Tarski married his co-worker, Maria Witkowska. An affinity for mathematics ran in the family. Tarski even admitted that his wife knew more about algebra, geometry and trigonometry than did he. Tarski's two children, Jan, and Ina, grew up to be prominent mathematicians themselves; however, neither Jan nor Ina have received a great deal of international attention.

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:

children, Jan and Ina

children, Jan and Ina,

NO CHANGE

children Jan and Ina

Correct answer:

children, Jan and Ina,

Explanation:

The appropriate way to write a list with two elements is simply to insert an "and" between them without any punctuation. The list containing "Jan" and "Ina" should therefore read "Jan and Ina". 

The phrase "Jan and Ina"  serves to define the phrase right before it—"Tarski's two children"—so "Jan and Ina" should be surrounded by commas. 

The correct form is therefore "Tarski's two children, Jan, and Ina, grew up to be prominent mathematicians themselves . . ." The correct answer is "children, Jan and Ina,"

Answer choice "Jan, and Ina" is incorrect because it contains an unnecessary comma between the two items in the list. Answer choices "children, Jan and Ina" and "children Jan and Ina" are incorrect because the phrase "Jan and Ina" is missing one or more surrounding commas.

Example Question #242 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Alfred Tarski, born on January 14, 1901, became known during his lifetime as a brilliant mathematician and teacher. He is best known for proving several advanced geometric theorems. By the time Tarski moved to the United States, much of Europe has already fallen into the grips of World War II. Hundreds of mathematical problems were solved by Tarski.

Tarski enrolled in Warsaw University in 1920. Originally wishing to study biology, mathematics was the subject in which Tarski ultimately excelled. He graduated with honors, and began his career as a math teacher. A true mathematical virtuoso, Tarski was concerned with neither the application of his research nor publishing his findings.   

Discoveries made by Tarski influenced the work of one of the world’s greatest physicists, Albert Einstein. Einstein and Tarski had many similar interests in common. Unlike Albert Einstein, however, Tarski was especially fond for pure mathematics. Although Tarski and Einstein were contemporaries, Einstein was the most prolific writer of the two.

In 1929, Tarski married his co-worker, Maria Witkowska. An affinity for mathematics ran in the family. Tarski even admitted that his wife knew more about algebra, geometry and trigonometry than did he. Tarski's two children, Jan, and Ina, grew up to be prominent mathematicians themselves; however, neither Jan nor Ina have received a great deal of international attention.

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:

algebra, geometry and, last but not least, trigonometry

algebra, geometry, and, trigonometry

NO CHANGE

algebra, geometry, and trigonometry

Correct answer:

algebra, geometry, and trigonometry

Explanation:

In a list with three items, every single item should be separated by a comma, and the final element should include an "and" after the comma. In this case, "algebra, geometry, and trigonometry" is the appropriate format of the list and the correct answer.

Answer choices "geometry and" and "geometry and, last but not least, trigonometry" are incorrect because they do not contain a comma before the word "and."

Although answer choice "geometry, and, trigonometry" contains a comma before the word "and," it is nevertheless incorrect because it contains an extra comma after the word "and."

Example Question #217 : Punctuation Errors

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has become wide recognized as one of the most brilliant and influential musicians of all time. At only thirteen years old, he skillfully played several instruments and wrote in a variety of musical genres. Over the past century, his orchestral music, along with his many operas, have delighted audiences around the world. Mozart wrote his music for wealthy patrons and aristocrats, yet even the commoners of the time enjoyed his music. The music of Mozart is richer and more textured than his contemporary, Joseph Haydn.  

The Austro-Turkish War, which began in 1787, prompted the redirection of much of Austria’s resources from arts and music to the military. As a result, Mozart faced financial difficulties. In 1788, he discontinued his public concerts and his income declined. In 1790, hoping to improve his financial situation and circumstances, Mozart toured Berlin and several other cities in Germany. The tours were unsuccessful, however, and did not improve his financial problems.

Scholars have proposed several hypotheses regarding the cause of Mozart’s death, such as influenza, smallpox and meningitisTheir is little physical evidence, however, to support these claims. Mozart's funeral belied the elaborate ornamentation of his music: the ceremony was basic and reserved. In the period following his death, Mozart’s popularity increased significantly. Concert halls throughout Europe featured his music, and composers sought to imitate his style. Modern audiences praise Mozart’s music for its liveliness, expressiveness, and the fact that it is sophisticated.

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:

NO CHANGE

several instruments, and wrote,

several instruments and he wrote

several instruments, and wrote

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

"NO CHANGE" is the correct answer.

This sentence contains the subject "he" and two predicates: 1) "skillfully played several instruments" and 2) "wrote in a variety of musical genres." When a subject has two or more predicates (called a "complex predicate"), it is appropriate to join the predicates with a coordinating conjunction such as "and" or "but" without adding any punctuation.

The correct way to express the sentence is therefore "At only thirteen years old, he skillfully played several instruments and wrote in a variety of musical genres."

 

Example Question #218 : Punctuation Errors

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has become wide recognized as one of the most brilliant and influential musicians of all time. At only thirteen years old, he skillfully played several instruments and wrote in a variety of musical genres. Over the past century, his orchestral music, along with his many operas, have delighted audiences around the world. Mozart wrote his music for wealthy patrons and aristocrats, yet even the commoners of the time enjoyed his music. The music of Mozart is richer and more textured than his contemporary, Joseph Haydn.  

The Austro-Turkish War, which began in 1787, prompted the redirection of much of Austria’s resources from arts and music to the military. As a result, Mozart faced financial difficulties. In 1788, he discontinued his public concerts and his income declined. In 1790, hoping to improve his financial situation and circumstances, Mozart toured Berlin and several other cities in Germany. The tours were unsuccessful, however, and did not improve his financial problems.

Scholars have proposed several hypotheses regarding the cause of Mozart’s death, such as influenza, smallpox and meningitisTheir is little physical evidence, however, to support these claims. Mozart's funeral belied the elaborate ornamentation of his music: the ceremony was basic and reserved. In the period following his death, Mozart’s popularity increased significantly. Concert halls throughout Europe featured his music, and composers sought to imitate his style. Modern audiences praise Mozart’s music for its liveliness, expressiveness, and the fact that it is sophisticated.

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:

concerts, and his income

concerts, and, his income

NO CHANGE

concerts and, his income

Correct answer:

concerts, and his income

Explanation:

This sentence contains two independent clauses: 1) "he discontinued his public concerts," and  2) "his income declined."

Two independent clauses may be joined if there is a comma followed by a coordinating conjunction (such as "and" or "but") between them.

The correct way to join the two independent clauses in this sentence is therefore "he discontinued his public concerts, and his income declined."

"NO CHANGE" and "concerts and, his income" are incorrect because they lack commas before the coordinating conjunction. While "concerts, and, his income" contains the comma before the coordinating conjunction, it is incorrect because it includes an unnecessary comma after the coordinating conjunction as well.

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