ACT English : Comma Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #21 : Comma Errors

One of the most popular programs of all those featured on the Internet (1) is a video clip show.  The format of the show is simple, each (2) week the host, a short but attractive New York native named John Jackson introduces (3) a set of three video clips from all over the Internet.  These clips shows (4) people hurting themselves in accidents, getting into crazy situations, interacting stupidly with animals, and et cetera. (5) Jackson introduces each clip comically and often comments on the action with animations where (6) he makes fun of the people in the videos.  While the videos are often funny, there is definitely an element of schadenfreude involved in watching these clips.  Schadenfreude is a German word for "the pleasure one takes at seeing the suffering of others".  (7) Jacksons (8) show are (9) not far removed from popular TV programs like (10) The U.S. Laughs at You there is also a version of which (11) on the Internet.  It is an open question whether laughing at these videos is a harmless activity or it causes harm to us. (12)

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number.  If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

Jackson, introduces

NO CHANGE

Jackson: introduces

Jackson; introduces

Correct answer:

Jackson, introduces

Explanation:

The phrase "a short but attractive New York native named John Jackson" is additional information that can be lifted out of the sentence without damaging it, so the entire phrase should be set off in commas.

Example Question #21 : Comma Errors

It was about halfway through his last set of conferences that Mr. Man realizes (1) he did not (2) much like his current set of students.  Unlike his students in the past, none of them seemed to care about their (3) grades, (4) none of them was able to tell a dangling modifier from a participle, (4) and, apart from a few, (4) they didn't know (5) how to start a paper.  He would never tell any of them this, of course, (6) they might get offended, and if there was one thing that Mr. Man learned (7) about teaching, its (8) that in order to keep one's job, you couldn't offend your students (9).  As yet another student whined about not understanding Mr. Mans (10) perfectly clearly written assignments, he sighed inwardly (and possibly outwardly as well), (11) and waited for the last (12) one to finish so that he could get to the next one, finish his conferences, and get back to daydreaming about being anything but a teacher.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number.  If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

well):

well)

well);

Correct answer:

well)

Explanation:

There's no need for any punctuation since what follows the conjunction here is not a complete sentence.

Example Question #22 : Comma Errors

In the last day of classes (1), everyone was distracted and unable to do their (2) work.  Even the teacher, which normally (3) was attentive and cheery, seems (4) unable to focus.  The final test took (5) way too long for everyone to complete, and many of students (6) had put down his head (7) on the desk.  The sound of the heat blowing through the room was enough to put everyone (8) to sleep, and the teachers' (9) eyes began drooping despite hisself (10).  After what seemed an eternity; (11) the bell had rung (12) and everyone, including the teacher, ran out of the room.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number.  If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

eternity:

eternity,

eternity

Correct answer:

eternity,

Explanation:

The phrase "After what seemed an eternity" acts both as additional information and as an introductory phrase and therefore should be followed by a comma.

Example Question #23 : Comma Errors

My lunch I had with my friend Gary (1) did not go very well. For one thing (2) he said he would come to pick me up (3) at noon. He normally texts me when he's outside, so I waited until 12:25.  Finally, at 12:30, he sends (4) a text: "Left my phone at home and had to come back to get it since you weren't downstairs waiting."

When he came back to get me, he was mad, at me. (5) "I couldn't find your doorbell," he shouted, "because there was no name tag on it, so I had gone (6) all the way home to get my phone just to text you!" (7)

"Wait a minute," I said, starting to get angry myself, "you're mad at me because you left your phone at home and you couldn't find my doorbell?"

"That's right," he replied __________ (8). "If you had been waiting downstairs, I would have had to not go through all of this." (9)

"But you're the one who left your phone at home," I countered, "and you always text me when you get here. Never have you asked me (10) to wait outside for you."

"Well, you should have," he muttered.

The rest of the day goes (11) downhill from there, all because my former friend Gary is (12) too proud to admit when he makes a mistake.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

For one thing;

For one thing,

For one thing:

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

For one thing,

Explanation:

Commas are generally used after introductory phrases such as "For one thing," but semicolons and colons are not.

Example Question #23 : Comma Errors

Many people watch football however (1) some do not. With (2) those who do not watch this sport (3) football is an incomprehensible pastime. Non football (4) fans cannot understand what is so exciting about watching two packs of grown men running away or toward each other, while (5) clinging for dear life to a piece of pigskin. It also makes from little to no sense (6) why those whom (7) play the sport gets (8) paid the exorbitant amounts that they do, even though he is (9) in effect doing the same thing that high school and college students do on a daily bases (10). But as the French would say, "Chacun à son goût" (11) though its (12) highly doubtful that most football fans (or even people who are not fans) would know what that means.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

sport:

NO CHANGE

sport,

sport;

Correct answer:

sport,

Explanation:

The lengthy prepositional phrase that begins this sentence and ends in "sport" serves as an introductory phrase, and thus it should be followed by a comma.

Example Question #24 : Comma Errors

Many people watch football however (1) some do not. With (2) those who do not watch this sport (3) football is an incomprehensible pastime. Non football (4) fans cannot understand what is so exciting about watching two packs of grown men running away or toward each other, while (5) clinging for dear life to a piece of pigskin. It also makes from little to no sense (6) why those whom (7) play the sport gets (8) paid the exorbitant amounts that they do, even though he is (9) in effect doing the same thing that high school and college students do on a daily bases (10). But as the French would say, "Chacun à son goût" (11) though its (12) highly doubtful that most football fans (or even people who are not fans) would know what that means.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

other. While

NO CHANGE

other while

other; while

Correct answer:

other while

Explanation:

Since this is one complete sentence, no punctuation is required between these two words.

Example Question #23 : Comma Errors

Many people watch football however (1) some do not. With (2) those who do not watch this sport (3) football is an incomprehensible pastime. Non football (4) fans cannot understand what is so exciting about watching two packs of grown men running away or toward each other, while (5) clinging for dear life to a piece of pigskin. It also makes from little to no sense (6) why those whom (7) play the sport gets (8) paid the exorbitant amounts that they do, even though he is (9) in effect doing the same thing that high school and college students do on a daily bases (10). But as the French would say, "Chacun à son goût" (11) though its (12) highly doubtful that most football fans (or even people who are not fans) would know what that means.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

goût."

goût,"

goût",

Correct answer:

goût,"

Explanation:

Since what follows this quotation is extra information, a comma is required, which should be placed inside the quotation mark.

Example Question #21 : Comma Errors

Ivan and Oscar, two little white mice living in Mrs. Wiggins house (1), were desperate for some cheese, but the only way to get to the kitchen was climbing down (2) the old suit of armor that Mrs. Wiggins brought (3) back from England after her honeymoon. Ivan had went down (4) to the kitchen many times before, but Oscar was new to it all and (5) he was more nervous than he would admit. They came out at the hole in the wall above the suit of armors (6) left shoulder, and Oscar watched as Ivan slipped fast (7) into the joins between the steel plates. He then heard Ivan scuttling down through the shoulder, chest, and the left leg (8) before emerging through the left foot below. "Come on down Oscar (9)" called the courageous mouse. Oscar made his way into the shoulder just as his friend had done, but (10) somehow got mixed up and ended up in the right arm. The twists and turns inside the armor were too complicated for his tiny, mousy (11) mind. Finally he called out, "Help, Ivan! Help! Wont (12) you help me make it through the knight?"

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

done; but

done: but

NO CHANGE

done but

Correct answer:

done but

Explanation:

No punctuation is required here since there is only one sentence and since what follows the conjunction "but" is not an otherwise independent clause.

Example Question #21 : Comma Errors

John was realizing (1) that if he ever wanted to get any work done (2) he needed to turn off his phone. Putting it on vibrate was not going to be enough (3). If it weren't (4) a message from a disgruntled student or an update to an app, it would be (5) a call from a relative or from a creditor. He has only recently realized (6) how ironic it is that "creditor" rhymes with "predator." (7) When the phone is on vibrate, he could feel it (8) from across the room which (9) makes it difficult for him to ignore it. Eventually he instituted a rule by which (10) he would only turn the phone on during certain hours of the day. At night he would turn it completely off, and he caught up (11) with his messages at lunchtime or dinnertime, but only if he were dining (12) alone. After that, he felt a little bit happier—but only a little bit.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

that, if he ever wanted to get any work done

that, if he ever wanted to get any work done,

NO CHANGE

that if he ever wanted to get any work done,

Correct answer:

that, if he ever wanted to get any work done,

Explanation:

The phrase, "if he ever wanted to get any work done," is extra information and thus can be taken out of the sentence without harming the meaning; thus it can be set off in commas.

Example Question #22 : Comma Errors

John was realizing (1) that if he ever wanted to get any work done (2) he needed to turn off his phone. Putting it on vibrate was not going to be enough (3). If it weren't (4) a message from a disgruntled student or an update to an app, it would be (5) a call from a relative or from a creditor. He has only recently realized (6) how ironic it is that "creditor" rhymes with "predator." (7) When the phone is on vibrate, he could feel it (8) from across the room which (9) makes it difficult for him to ignore it. Eventually he instituted a rule by which (10) he would only turn the phone on during certain hours of the day. At night he would turn it completely off, and he caught up (11) with his messages at lunchtime or dinnertime, but only if he were dining (12) alone. After that, he felt a little bit happier—but only a little bit.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

room: which

room; which

room, which

Correct answer:

room, which

Explanation:

The use of the comma here indicates that the clause that follows "which" refers to the fact that John can hear the phone vibrating across the room; it's not the room itself that makes it impossible for John to work.

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