ACT English : Comma Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #101 : Comma 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:

influenza, smallpox, and, meningitis

influenza, smallpox, and meningitis

influenza smallpox, and, meningitis

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

influenza, smallpox, and meningitis

Explanation:

The text contains a list with three items: 1) influenza, 2) smallpox, and 3) meningitis. The appropriate way to write a list with three or more items is to insert a comma between each of the items, and to insert the word "and" right before the final item (but after the comma).

The correct answer is therefore "influenza, smallpox, and meningitis."

Example Question #101 : Comma Errors

“Why Text Messaging is a Good Thing” by Chelci Spiegel (2013)

Many people today think that technology such as text messages and social networking sites are creating distant relationships among people. They say that the relationships are false because face-to-face time is diminishing however, I do not believe this to be the case. These are technologies and technologies are very important tools. That’s just it they’re tools. They can be good or bad depending on how they are used. I believe that text messaging is a benefit to society because it provides fast communication with multiple people unobtrusive conversation and responding time for the receiver.

Because text messaging exists we can tell many people something very important very quickly. It is like an SOS message to whomever needs to know. If I have car trouble I can send a text to my father, brother, and friends all at once. Instead of dialing each number separately and maybe or maybe not getting anyone they all get a message then, I receive help more quickly. A more concrete example is from what I was lost in the woods searching for my horse who was also lost late one evening. I sent out one text message to multiple people and by the time I had found my way back to the truck there were seven friends pulled up with trucks mountain bikes and flashlights to help search for the horses all night.  That is not evidence of relationships distanced by text messaging but brought together.

Because text messaging does not require voice it is far less obtrusive in public places. When I was standing in line at the grocery store one of the ladies were using their phone while waiting for their turn. I heard her entire life story her boy troubles, her work troubles her friend troubles and her money troubles. It was very distracting. With texting people can vent all their frustrations to someone privately. If I am trying to set a date for a barbaque, I can text my neighbor to work out details rather than let the entire store know my weekend plans. Texting is a way to conduct private business in public places.

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:

because it: provides fast communication with multiple people unobtrusive conversation, and responding time for the receiver.

NO CHANGE

because it provides fast communication with multiple people, unobtrusive conversation, and responding time for the receiver.

because it, being texting, provides fast communication with multiple people, unobtrusive conversation, and responding time for the receiver.

because it, provides fast communication with multiple people unobtrusive, conversation and responding, time for the receiver.

Correct answer:

because it provides fast communication with multiple people, unobtrusive conversation, and responding time for the receiver.

Explanation:

Commas are used to separate items in a series. In the case of this sentence, there is a series of three specific things the messages provide: communication, conversation, and time. Those things—AND the adjectives and prepositions that go with them—must be separated by commas.

Example Question #102 : Comma Errors

“Why Text Messaging is a Good Thing” by Chelci Spiegel (2013)

Many people today think that technology such as text messages and social networking sites are creating distant relationships among people. They say that the relationships are false because face-to-face time is diminishing however, I do not believe this to be the case. These are technologies and technologies are very important tools. That’s just it they’re tools. They can be good or bad depending on how they are used. I believe that text messaging is a benefit to society because it provides fast communication with multiple people unobtrusive conversation and responding time for the receiver.

Because text messaging exists we can tell many people something very important very quickly. It is like an SOS message to whomever needs to know. If I have car trouble I can send a text to my father, brother, and friends all at once. Instead of dialing each number separately and maybe or maybe not getting anyone they all get a message then, I receive help more quickly. A more concrete example is from what I was lost in the woods searching for my horse who was also lost late one evening. I sent out one text message to multiple people and by the time I had found my way back to the truck there were seven friends pulled up with trucks mountain bikes and flashlights to help search for the horses all night.  That is not evidence of relationships distanced by text messaging but brought together.

Because text messaging does not require voice it is far less obtrusive in public places. When I was standing in line at the grocery store one of the ladies were using their phone while waiting for their turn. I heard her entire life story her boy troubles, her work troubles her friend troubles and her money troubles. It was very distracting. With texting people can vent all their frustrations to someone privately. If I am trying to set a date for a barbaque, I can text my neighbor to work out details rather than let the entire store know my weekend plans. Texting is a way to conduct private business in public places.

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

 voice it is always far less

 voice its far less

 voice it is far less,

 voice, it is far less

Correct answer:

 voice, it is far less

Explanation:

When a sentence begins with "because," it has a dependent clause. A comma must separate dependent clauses from the independent clause—the part of the sentence that can stand on its own.

Example Question #248 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

“Why Text Messaging is a Good Thing” by Chelci Spiegel (2013)

Many people today think that technology such as text messages and social networking sites are creating distant relationships among people. They say that the relationships are false because face-to-face time is diminishing however, I do not believe this to be the case. These are technologies and technologies are very important tools. That’s just it they’re tools. They can be good or bad depending on how they are used. I believe that text messaging is a benefit to society because it provides fast communication with multiple people unobtrusive conversation and responding time for the receiver.

Because text messaging exists we can tell many people something very important very quickly. It is like an SOS message to whomever needs to know. If I have car trouble I can send a text to my father, brother, and friends all at once. Instead of dialing each number separately and maybe or maybe not getting anyone they all get a message then, I receive help more quickly. A more concrete example is from what I was lost in the woods searching for my horse who was also lost late one evening. I sent out one text message to multiple people and by the time I had found my way back to the truck there were seven friends pulled up with trucks mountain bikes and flashlights to help search for the horses all night.  That is not evidence of relationships distanced by text messaging but brought together.

Because text messaging does not require voice it is far less obtrusive in public places. When I was standing in line at the grocery store one of the ladies were using their phone while waiting for their turn. I heard her entire life story her boy troubles, her work troubles her friend troubles and her money troubles. It was very distracting. With texting people can vent all their frustrations to someone privately. If I am trying to set a date for a barbaque, I can text my neighbor to work out details rather than let the entire store know my weekend plans. Texting is a way to conduct private business in public places.

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:

line, at the grocery store one of the ladies

line at the grocery store one of the ladies,

Omit the underlined portion

NO CHANGE

line at the grocery store, one of the ladies

Correct answer:

line at the grocery store, one of the ladies

Explanation:

"While" is a word that begins a dependent clause, which is a section of a sentence that cannot stand alone.  A comma must separate a dependent clause from the independent one—the one that can stand alone.

Example Question #249 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

"The Election of 1800" by Alec Slatky (2013)

The presidential election of 1800 was an unusual and unique contest in American history. The opponents were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson former friends who became rivals. Jefferson had actually been Vice President under Adams, but had not supported the latter’s policies. Jefferson leapt at the chance to unseat his former boss. Adams, too, would have enjoyed spending time on his farm more than dealing with political acrimony. Accordingly, he was too prideful to willingly relinquish his office. So, the two men who were most qualified for the position but least excited to have such a stressful job became the presidential candidates.

The campaign was a bitter partisan one and included numerous personal attacks. Critics called Jefferson a Democratic-Republican radical, he would lead the country down the bloody path of the French Revolution. Jefferson’s allies fired back, painting Adams as an anti-liberty autocrat. Adams was from Massachusetts. Adams even faced opposition from some extremists among his fellow Federalists and thus lacked the party unity required to win the election.

In the end, Jefferson emerged victorious, winning 73 of the 138 electoral votes. Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated as President, and Aaron Burr was inaugurated as Vice President. The election was a milestone in American history: it was the first that shifted control of the White House to a different party, the first with a modern mudslinging campaign, and the first that truly tested whether the new nation would remain united despite all its divisions.

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:

radical whom

NO CHANGE

radical who

radical, but

radical, maybe he

Correct answer:

radical who

Explanation:

"Radical who" is correct because it is a complete sentence; "radical whom" is incorrect because “who” describes someone who is doing an action, which is the case here, and “whom” describes someone who has an action done to them. The other two choices are incorrect because they are run-on sentences—they connect two complete sentences with only a comma, not a period, semicolon, or conjunction.

Example Question #250 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

"The Election of 1800" by Alec Slatky (2013)

The presidential election of 1800 was an unusual and unique contest in American history. The opponents were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson former friends who became rivals. Jefferson had actually been Vice President under Adams, but had not supported the latter’s policies. Jefferson leapt at the chance to unseat his former boss. Adams, too, would have enjoyed spending time on his farm more than dealing with political acrimony. Accordingly, he was too prideful to willingly relinquish his office. So, the two men who were most qualified for the position but least excited to have such a stressful job became the presidential candidates.

The campaign was a bitter partisan one and included numerous personal attacks. Critics called Jefferson a Democratic-Republican radical, he would lead the country down the bloody path of the French Revolution. Jefferson’s allies fired back, painting Adams as an anti-liberty autocrat. Adams was from Massachusetts. Adams even faced opposition from some extremists among his fellow Federalists and thus lacked the party unity required to win the election.

In the end, Jefferson emerged victorious, winning 73 of the 138 electoral votes. Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated as President, and Aaron Burr was inaugurated as Vice President. The election was a milestone in American history: it was the first that shifted control of the White House to a different party, the first with a modern mudslinging campaign, and the first that truly tested whether the new nation would remain united despite all its divisions.

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:

Jefferson former friends, who became rivals.

Jefferson, former friends who became rivals.

Jefferson; former friends who became rivals.

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

Jefferson, former friends who became rivals.

Explanation:

"Jefferson, former friends who became rivals" is correct because the phrase "former friends who became rivals" modifies John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, so a comma is needed after "Jefferson." A semicolon will not work because "former friends who became rivals" is not a complete sentence, and a semicolon must contain a complete sentence on either side of it.

Example Question #221 : Punctuation Errors

Communist rule in Poland ended in 1989 and the following year proved disastrous for the Polish economy. Prices rapidly ballooned while incomes dropped. Attempting to find a solution, the Balcerowicz Plan was implemented by Polish officials. The plan liberalized the economy by abolishing price controls, exposing markets to international competition, and it discontinued most industrial subsidiesIn the time of the years following these efforts, economic growth has increased steady

After years of negotiations and economic and political reforms, Poland became a member of The European Union on May 1, 2004. Soon after, Polish officials voted in favor for laws that would eventually mend the unemployment problem in Poland significantly. In fact, the unemployment rate improved for the first time in five years immediately following Poland's membership. The involvement of Poland in the Eastern Bloc is currently greater than the Czech Republic. The passage of two policies regarding energy credits from foreign countries provide evidence of the emergence of Poland in the global economy.

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

in 1989, so

in 1989; thus

in 1989, and

Correct answer:

in 1989, and

Explanation:

Use a comma and a coordinating conjunction such as "and" or "but" to connect two independent clauses. (An independent clause is a phrase that can stand alone as a sentence). In this problem, the two independent clauses are 1: "Communist rule in Poland ended in 1989;" and 2: "The following year proved disastrous for the Polish economy," so we need to connect them with a coordinating conjunction ("and") and a comma; therefore, the correct answer is "in 1989, and."

Example Question #591 : Act English

Communist rule in Poland ended in 1989 and the following year proved disastrous for the Polish economy. Prices rapidly ballooned while incomes dropped. Attempting to find a solution, the Balcerowicz Plan was implemented by Polish officials. The plan liberalized the economy by abolishing price controls, exposing markets to international competition, and it discontinued most industrial subsidiesIn the time of the years following these efforts, economic growth has increased steady

After years of negotiations and economic and political reforms, Poland became a member of The European Union on May 1, 2004. Soon after, Polish officials voted in favor for laws that would eventually mend the unemployment problem in Poland significantly. In fact, the unemployment rate improved for the first time in five years immediately following Poland's membership. The involvement of Poland in the Eastern Bloc is currently greater than the Czech Republic. The passage of two policies regarding energy credits from foreign countries provide evidence of the emergence of Poland in the global economy.

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

After years of negotiations, and economic, and political reforms

After years of negotiations and economic and political reforms

After years of negotiations, and economic and political reforms, 

After years of negotiations and economic, and political reforms, 

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

Lists with three or more elements must be separated by commas, but lists with only two elements are not separated by commas. The answer choice "After years of negotiations and economic, and political reforms," is incorrect because the comma in that choice separates the list of two adjectives: 1) "economic and 2) political." The answer choice "After years of negotiations, and economic and political reforms," is also incorrect because the comma in that choice separates the list of two noun phrases: 1) "negotiations" and 2) "economic and political reforms."

Introductory phrases, on the other hand, must be followed by commas; therefore, the introductory phrase "After years of negotiations and economic and political reforms" requires a comma immediately after it, meaning that "After years of negotiations and economic and political reforms," is the correct answer.

Example Question #223 : Punctuation Errors

Communist rule in Poland ended in 1989 and the following year proved disastrous for the Polish economy. Prices rapidly ballooned while incomes dropped. Attempting to find a solution, the Balcerowicz Plan was implemented by Polish officials. The plan liberalized the economy by abolishing price controls, exposing markets to international competition, and it discontinued most industrial subsidiesIn the time of the years following these efforts, economic growth has increased steady

After years of negotiations and economic and political reforms, Poland became a member of The European Union on May 1, 2004. Soon after, Polish officials voted in favor for laws that would eventually mend the unemployment problem in Poland significantly. In fact, the unemployment rate improved for the first time in five years immediately following Poland's membership. The involvement of Poland in the Eastern Bloc is currently greater than the Czech Republic. The passage of two policies regarding energy credits from foreign countries provide evidence of the emergence of Poland in the global economy.

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

May 1 2004

May, 1 2004

May—1—2004

May, 1, 2004

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

When writing dates, separate the month from the year with commas, but not the month from the day, such as "June 12, 2013;" therefore, the correct way to express the date in the sentence is "May 1, 2004", as in the original text.

Example Question #104 : Comma Errors

The ship was having trouble again. Engineer James Ferguson couldn't figure out why the super-duper drive engine kept breaching. Every time he had fixed it, something seemed to go wrong again. He had a capable crew and he was friendly with all of them: but the aliens who had evolved from deer rather than from apes as humans hadhad some problems when it came to fixing things. Their strong arms ended in tiny predicative hooves that sometimes makes it difficult for them to hold large objects. They were good at problem-solving though and he did like them a lot. The nearest one gave him a dough-eyed look of sympathy—appropriate, given her gender. He looked back at the breaching drive engine and sighed. "Once more into the breach, deer friends" he announced.

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:

crew:

NO CHANGE

crew;

crew,

Correct answer:

crew,

Explanation:

The conjunction "and" joins two complete sentences here, so the most appropriate punctuation to precede it would be a comma. The semicolon is not used when a complete sentence begins with a conjunction.

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