ACT English : Comma Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #351 : Comma Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Studying the map, carefully, the general planned his next move

Possible Answers:

Studying the map carefully, the general,

Studying the map carefully, the general

Studying the map carefully the general

Studying, the map carefully, the general

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

Studying the map carefully, the general

Explanation:

A comma should be used to separate a dependent clause ("Studying the map carefully") from an independent clause ("the general planned his next move"). Commas should not be used to break up a subject and its verb ("the general, planned"). Never use a comma to separate a verb and its direct object ("Studying, the map")

Example Question #352 : Comma Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

To finish the triathlon you must run bike and swim.

Possible Answers:

To finish the triathlon, you must run, bike, and swim.

triathlon, you must run, bike and, swim.

triathlon, you must run bike, and swim.

NO CHANGE

triathlon you must, run, bike and swim.

Correct answer:

To finish the triathlon, you must run, bike, and swim.

Explanation:

Commas should be used to separate a dependent clause ("To finish the triathlon") from an independent clause ("you must run, bike, and swim"). Also, use a comma to separate individual verbs in sequence: in this case, "run, bike, and swim"). Do NOT use a comma to separate a helping verb from its main verb ("must, run"). The serial comma between the last two verbs ("bike, and swim") is optional, but provides clarity. Also, since all other options are incorrect, you should keep it here.

Example Question #353 : Comma Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

"Well” he said “I think I’ll go for a walk.”

Possible Answers:

"Well", he said, "I think

"Well," he said "I think

"Well," he said, "I think

"Well" he said, "I think

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

"Well," he said, "I think

Explanation:

In this sentence, the correct version will use a comma to transition from a quote ("Well,") to narration ("she said,") and back to the quote ("I think I'll go for a walk."). Always put the comma inside the quotation marks! Also, in this sentence the correct version will use a comma to separate dependent clauses ("Well,") ("he said,") from one another and from the independent clause ("I think I'll go for a walk"). Again, always put the comma inside the quotation marks!

Example Question #354 : Comma Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

The more you practice, the easier the game becomes.

Possible Answers:

more, you practice the easier

more you, practice, the easier

more you practice the easier

more, you practice, the easier

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

The best version of this sentence will use a comma to separate the two parts of a paired comparison. Each clause ("The more you practice" and "the easier the game becomes") should have similar syntax, or word order. This kind of sentence construction is very common in English. Try making your own similar sentences with other comparative words ("The more... the faster," "The better... the better," etc.). With practice, you'll spot the comma every time!

Example Question #355 : Comma Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Jane Doe, an award-winning author will be signing copies of her book.

Possible Answers:

Jane Doe an award-winning author, will

Jane Doe, an award-winning, author will

NO CHANGE

Jane Doe, an award-winning author, will

Jane Doe an award-winning author will

Correct answer:

Jane Doe, an award-winning author, will

Explanation:

The correct version of this sentence will use commas to separate an appositive ("an award-winning author") from the main clause of the sentence ("Jane Doe will be signing copies of her book."). An appositive just further describes the subject, so you should have a complete sentence that makes sense if you remove it. Try reading the sentence without the phrase in commas to hear whether they are in the correct place.

Example Question #356 : Comma Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

The professor canceled class, which was a relief to her students.

Possible Answers:

canceled, class, which was

NO CHANGE

canceled, class which was

canceled class which was

canceled class, which, was

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

A comma should be used to separate an independent clause ("The professor canceled class") from a modifying dependent clause ("which was a relief to her students"). Be careful with relative pronouns like "which." Without a comma before it, this sentence would mean that the class was a relief to her students, not the fact that their professor canceled it. Never use a comma to separate a verb from its direct object ("canceled, class")

Example Question #357 : Comma Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

The new song a fan favorite opened the band’s set.

Possible Answers:

new song, a fan favorite opened

new song, a fan favorite opened,

new, song a fan favorite opened

NO CHANGE

new song, a fan favorite, opened

Correct answer:

new song, a fan favorite, opened

Explanation:

In this sentence you should use commas to offset the appositive ("a fan favorite") from the main clause ("The new song opened the band's set.") Tip: An appositive just further describes the subject, so you should be able to remove it and still have a complete sentence that makes sense. Try reading the sentence without the phrase surrounded by commas ("a fan favorite"), and you'll have your main clause! Remember to include commas on BOTH sides of the appositive. Using just one ("The new song, a fan favorite opened" or "The new song a fan favorite, opened") makes the sentence incomplete. Never use commas to separate an adjective and a noun ("The new, song")

Example Question #358 : Comma Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

The new chicken recipe did not go over well with the rest of the family, they ate it out of kindness but were not thrilled to do so.

Possible Answers:

family: they ate it out of kindness but were not thrilled to do so.

The new chicken recipe did not go over well with the rest of the family; they ate it out of kindness but were not thrilled to do so.

family, they ate it out of kindness but were not thrilled to do so.

NO CHANGE.

family and they ate it out of kindness but were not thrilled to do so.

Correct answer:

The new chicken recipe did not go over well with the rest of the family; they ate it out of kindness but were not thrilled to do so.

Explanation:

Both of these clauses are independent clauses, meaning each could stand on its own as a full, complete sentence. For that reason, joining them with a comma and no conjunction is creates a comma splice. A semicolon is the appropriate punctuation to use here. Another, equally grammatically viable, option here would be to use a comma and a coordinating conjunction.

Example Question #359 : Comma Errors

There once was a shepherd boy whom sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. He was hot and exhausted fanning himself, rapidly in a feeble attempt to cool himself down. On top of that, he had never been so bored before. 

To amuse himself, he decided to play a joke. He put his hands around his mouth and yelled in a loud voice, "Wolf! Wolf! A wolf is chasing the sheep!”

They came running. They asked the boy, “What’s going on? Did you yell ‘A wolf is chasing the sheep?’ ”

The boy laughed. “It was just a joke, everyone.”

The people fumed, but they all returned to their homes.

The next day, the boy bored again decided to amuse himself again. He bellowed, “Wolf! Wolf!”

Again, the townspeople came running. Once they arrived and witnessed the laughing boy, they realized they’d been tricked a second time. Nonetheless, they returned home and irritated resolved to never fall for the trick again for third time.

The next day, the boy was watching his sheep. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a wolf appeared from behind the bushes. With its teeth bared, the boy cowered as the wolf approached the sheep. Terrified, he called, “Help! A wolf! A wolf is here!”

The people ignored his cries. “That mischievous boy,” they all said to one another. “He must think he can fool us again.” But not one of them came running.

No one was there to witness as the wolf ate every last sheep on the hillside, as the boy helplessly cowered behind a bush. As the boy hid, he shook his head. “I shall never fib again,” he resolved to himself.

Which is the best alternative for the underlined sentence: "He was hot and exhausted fanning himself, rapidly in a feeble attempt to cool himself down"?

Possible Answers:

He was hot and exhausted, fanning himself rapidly in a feeble attempt to cool himself down.

He was hot and exhausted fanning him, rapidly in a feeble attempt to cool him down.

NO CHANGE

He was hot, and exhausted, fanning himself rapidly in a feeble attempt to cool himself down.

He was hot and exhausted fanning himself rapidly in a feeble attempt to cool himself down.

Correct answer:

He was hot and exhausted, fanning himself rapidly in a feeble attempt to cool himself down.

Explanation:

Commas should be used to separate a dependent clause from an independent clause. The independent clause in this sentence is "He was hot and exhausted," while the dependent clause is "fanning himself rapidly in a feeble attempt to cool himself down." To separate the main clause from the dependent clause, a comma should be put between the word "exhausted" and "fanning."  

Example Question #360 : Comma Errors

There once was a shepherd boy whom sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. He was hot and exhausted fanning himself, rapidly in a feeble attempt to cool himself down. On top of that, he had never been so bored before. 

To amuse himself, he decided to play a joke. He put his hands around his mouth and yelled in a loud voice, "Wolf! Wolf! A wolf is chasing the sheep!”

They came running. They asked the boy, “What’s going on? Did you yell ‘A wolf is chasing the sheep?’ ”

The boy laughed. “It was just a joke, everyone.”

The people fumed, but they all returned to their homes.

The next day, the boy bored again decided to amuse himself again. He bellowed, “Wolf! Wolf!”

Again, the townspeople came running. Once they arrived and witnessed the laughing boy, they realized they’d been tricked a second time. Nonetheless, they returned home and irritated resolved to never fall for the trick again for third time.

The next day, the boy was watching his sheep. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a wolf appeared from behind the bushes. With its teeth bared, the boy cowered as the wolf approached the sheep. Terrified, he called, “Help! A wolf! A wolf is here!”

The people ignored his cries. “That mischievous boy,” they all said to one another. “He must think he can fool us again.” But not one of them came running.

No one was there to witness as the wolf ate every last sheep on the hillside, as the boy helplessly cowered behind a bush. As the boy hid, he shook his head. “I shall never fib again,” he resolved to himself.

What is the best alternative for the underlined sentence, "The next day, the boy bored again decided to amuse himself again"?

 

Possible Answers:

The next day, the boy bored, again decided to amuse himself again.

The next day the boy bored again decided to amuse himself again.

NO CHANGE

The next day, the boy, bored again, decided to amuse himself again.

The next day, the boy, bored again decided to amuse himself again.

Correct answer:

The next day, the boy, bored again, decided to amuse himself again.

Explanation:

The phrase "bored again" is an interrupting phrase in the main sentence. Therefore, it needs to be set apart with commas on either side: ", bored again,". 

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