ACT English : Comma Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store varsity tutors amazon store varsity tutors ibooks store

Example Questions

Example Question #121 : Comma Errors

The house stood, at the bottom of a hill, making it hard to see from the street. The owner wants it that way, as he had no use for any of his neighbors. “Nosy sneaks and cheats” he would to say to his son. Not that his son ever really listening. The old man did not see him very much, either at his home or going anywhere else. Every time he did see him, his son would just complain about how his house was dark musty, and filthy. The old man did not need such criticism, especially from only his blood relative. He had lived in that house for fifty years, and planned to live there as long as he possibly could. While he lived there, his neighbors would never see him or his house if he could help it. He could take care of him, and steadfastly refused to allow anyone to help. In his tiny house, at the bottom of the hill, the old man was content to be alone, and believed he was living perfect.

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:

house was dark musty and filthy

house was dark, musty, and filthy

house, was dark musty and filthy

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

house was dark, musty, and filthy

Explanation:

Any list like the one in the underlined portion of the sentence must have each of its elements appropriately separated from each other by commas. The only answer choice that correctly uses commas is "house was dark, musty, and filthy."

Example Question #122 : Comma Errors

The house stood, at the bottom of a hill, making it hard to see from the street. The owner wants it that way, as he had no use for any of his neighbors. “Nosy sneaks and cheats” he would to say to his son. Not that his son ever really listening. The old man did not see him very much, either at his home or going anywhere else. Every time he did see him, his son would just complain about how his house was dark musty, and filthy. The old man did not need such criticism, especially from only his blood relative. He had lived in that house for fifty years, and planned to live there as long as he possibly could. While he lived there, his neighbors would never see him or his house if he could help it. He could take care of him, and steadfastly refused to allow anyone to help. In his tiny house, at the bottom of the hill, the old man was content to be alone, and believed he was living perfect.

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:

"Nosy sneaks and cheats;" he

"Nosy sneaks and cheats", he

"Nosy sneaks and cheats," he

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

"Nosy sneaks and cheats," he

Explanation:

Any quotation in a paragraph should be set apart from prose that is not being quoted by a comma. Additionally, the correct placement for such a comma is before the closing quotation. "'Nosy sneaks and cheats,' he" is the only answer choice that properly deploys the comma.

Example Question #123 : Comma Errors

The house stood, at the bottom of a hill, making it hard to see from the street. The owner wants it that way, as he had no use for any of his neighbors. “Nosy sneaks and cheats” he would to say to his son. Not that his son ever really listening. The old man did not see him very much, either at his home or going anywhere else. Every time he did see him, his son would just complain about how his house was dark musty, and filthy. The old man did not need such criticism, especially from only his blood relative. He had lived in that house for fifty years, and planned to live there as long as he possibly could. While he lived there, his neighbors would never see him or his house if he could help it. He could take care of him, and steadfastly refused to allow anyone to help. In his tiny house, at the bottom of the hill, the old man was content to be alone, and believed he was living perfect.

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:

standing, at the bottom of a hill,

stood at the bottom of a hill,

stood: at the bottom of a hill,

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

stood at the bottom of a hill,

Explanation:

The prepositional phrase "at the bottom of a hill" is directly connected to and mofidies the verb "stood." Therefore, the prepositional phrase should not be separated from the verb by a comma. The correct answer choice is "stood at the bottom of a hill," which removes the comma after "stood."

Example Question #124 : Comma Errors

The bayou was quiet, except for the sounds of insects, water and the occasional alligator. Jim was cleaning his blade, which he had recently used to dispatch one of the undead. His partner Bill and him had come out to the bayou for their nightly patrol and they had found a nest of the undead by an old abandoned dock.

"Hey, Bill!," he shouted gleefully, mindless of whether the noise would attract more undead. "Where'd you go, man?"

A noise to his left had startled him. He turned quick and saw the man who had been closest to him than a brother for the past six months walking slowly toward him.

"Whew," he said: "there you are." He went back to cleaning his blade. "I thought one of those things had got 'cha."

Standing in the dark, the light of the moon did not reach his partners face. The sudden silence caused Jim to look up again. "What's the matter with you, Bill?"

It was only when the thing that was once Bill stepped into the light and Jim saw the fresh bite on it's newly dead face that he realized what the matter was.

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

cleaning, his blade which he had recently used

cleaning his blade which, he had recently used

cleaning his blade which he had recently used

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

"Which he had recently used" introduces extra information that can be taken out of the sentence without altering its meaning. So, it is a non-restrictive clause, and it needs to be preceded by a comma.

Example Question #125 : Comma Errors

The bayou was quiet, except for the sounds of insects, water and the occasional alligator. Jim was cleaning his blade, which he had recently used to dispatch one of the undead. His partner Bill and him had come out to the bayou for their nightly patrol and they had found a nest of the undead by an old abandoned dock.

"Hey, Bill!," he shouted gleefully, mindless of whether the noise would attract more undead. "Where'd you go, man?"

A noise to his left had startled him. He turned quick and saw the man who had been closest to him than a brother for the past six months walking slowly toward him.

"Whew," he said: "there you are." He went back to cleaning his blade. "I thought one of those things had got 'cha."

Standing in the dark, the light of the moon did not reach his partners face. The sudden silence caused Jim to look up again. "What's the matter with you, Bill?"

It was only when the thing that was once Bill stepped into the light and Jim saw the fresh bite on it's newly dead face that he realized what the matter was.

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:

their nightly patrol, and they had found

NO CHANGE

their nightly patrol; and they had found

their nightly patrol: and they had found

Correct answer:

their nightly patrol, and they had found

Explanation:

If two complete sentences are joined by a conjunction, then a comma is used before the conjunction. Semicolons generally are used to join two complete sentences when they do not have a conjunction between them.

Example Question #126 : Comma Errors

The bayou was quiet, except for the sounds of insects, water and the occasional alligator. Jim was cleaning his blade, which he had recently used to dispatch one of the undead. His partner Bill and him had come out to the bayou for their nightly patrol and they had found a nest of the undead by an old abandoned dock.

"Hey, Bill!," he shouted gleefully, mindless of whether the noise would attract more undead. "Where'd you go, man?"

A noise to his left had startled him. He turned quick and saw the man who had been closest to him than a brother for the past six months walking slowly toward him.

"Whew," he said: "there you are." He went back to cleaning his blade. "I thought one of those things had got 'cha."

Standing in the dark, the light of the moon did not reach his partners face. The sudden silence caused Jim to look up again. "What's the matter with you, Bill?"

It was only when the thing that was once Bill stepped into the light and Jim saw the fresh bite on it's newly dead face that he realized what the matter was.

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:

"Hey, Bill," he shouted gleefully

"Hey, Bill!" he shouted gleefully

"Hey, Bill," he shouted gleefully!

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

"Hey, Bill!" he shouted gleefully

Explanation:

The use of the word "shouted" implies that an exclamation mark is needed, but it is considered part of the quotation and replaces the comma that generally signals the end of a quotation. The entire sentence is reporting that Jim is shouting, but the sentence itself is not.

Example Question #127 : Comma Errors

The bayou was quiet, except for the sounds of insects, water and the occasional alligator. Jim was cleaning his blade, which he had recently used to dispatch one of the undead. His partner Bill and him had come out to the bayou for their nightly patrol and they had found a nest of the undead by an old abandoned dock.

"Hey, Bill!," he shouted gleefully, mindless of whether the noise would attract more undead. "Where'd you go, man?"

A noise to his left had startled him. He turned quick and saw the man who had been closest to him than a brother for the past six months walking slowly toward him.

"Whew," he said: "there you are." He went back to cleaning his blade. "I thought one of those things had got 'cha."

Standing in the dark, the light of the moon did not reach his partners face. The sudden silence caused Jim to look up again. "What's the matter with you, Bill?"

It was only when the thing that was once Bill stepped into the light and Jim saw the fresh bite on it's newly dead face that he realized what the matter was.

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

"Whew," he said, "there you are."

"Whew," he said; "there you are."

"Whew," he said. "there you are."

Correct answer:

"Whew," he said, "there you are."

Explanation:

It is clear from the context that what Jim is saying is all part of the same sentence, so the comma after the attribution phrase "he said" is appropriate. Using a semicolon would imply two separate sentences, whereas the colon would not be used in this way.

Example Question #128 : Comma Errors

The bayou was quiet, except for the sounds of insects, water and the occasional alligator. Jim was cleaning his blade, which he had recently used to dispatch one of the undead. His partner Bill and him had come out to the bayou for their nightly patrol and they had found a nest of the undead by an old abandoned dock.

"Hey, Bill!," he shouted gleefully, mindless of whether the noise would attract more undead. "Where'd you go, man?"

A noise to his left had startled him. He turned quick and saw the man who had been closest to him than a brother for the past six months walking slowly toward him.

"Whew," he said: "there you are." He went back to cleaning his blade. "I thought one of those things had got 'cha."

Standing in the dark, the light of the moon did not reach his partners face. The sudden silence caused Jim to look up again. "What's the matter with you, Bill?"

It was only when the thing that was once Bill stepped into the light and Jim saw the fresh bite on it's newly dead face that he realized what the matter was.

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:

insects water, and the occasional alligator

insects water and the occasional alligator

NO CHANGE

insects, water, and the occasional alligator

Correct answer:

insects, water, and the occasional alligator

Explanation:

In punctuation, a serial comma (also called the Oxford comma) is placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (such as "and") in a series of three or more terms.

Example Question #129 : Comma Errors

Speech production is a complicated and complex process, that requires the coordination of three different systems: respiration, phonation, and articulation. A deficit in any of these systems will negatively impact the quality of one’s speech.

We all know that respiration, or breathing, is necessary for life, but have you ever thought about it’s usefulness for speech? Try to talk while holding you’re breath and you will see what I mean. Exhalation provides a stream of air that the next two systems shape into what many people like to call speech.

Phonation happens in your larynx, or voice box. A pair of muscles form a shelf-like structure on either side of your larynx, and this pair of muscles is known as your vocal folds. As you exhale during speech, your vocal fold muscles contract and move towards each other. They vibrate as air passes between them, creating a buzzing sound, and this is a process that is known as phonation. The word “phonation” comes from the ancient Greek word for sound.

Finally, the last stage is articulation. At this final stage, you move your tongue, lips, and jaw to affect the way vibrating air leaves your mouth. For example, when you say the “b” sound, you need to squeeze your lips together to stop the airflow before opening your lips again. For the “v” sound, you touch your top teeth against your lower lip and force air through between your teeth and lip.

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:

process, it requires

process that requires

NO CHANGE

process, and it requires

Correct answer:

process that requires

Explanation:

The original version contains an unecessary comma. "Process that requires" is correct because "that requires the coordination..." is a relative clause that contains essential information. Only use a comma to offset relative clauses when they add nonessential information.

Example Question #130 : Comma Errors

Jeremy had no luck convincing the members of the orchestral committee about his suggestions. He pleaded, cajoled, was begging, and even threatened the committee at various times, but yet despite being the conductor, he couldnt get them to agree to his requests. Despite many attempts, the committee would not listen to him. In the end, he decided to go through with the Christmas concert despite him not having his favorite composer on the program. Afterward, one of his friends, whom was in the audience, came up and asked him why was there no Handel on the program? "I did try" Jeremy replied "but the committee were unanimously against me. I nearly begged them all day to put one piece on the program. But try as I might I could not get a Handel on it."

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

try," Jeremy replied,

try" Jeremy replied.

try," Jeremy replied

Correct answer:

try," Jeremy replied,

Explanation:

The phrase "he replied" should be set off in commas, because it can be lifted out of the sentence without grammatically harming it; since it is also an attributive phrase, a comma should also appear inside the quotation marks.

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors