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 #371 : 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."

Twenty-five, shiny quarters, and two nickels were pushed into the vending machine before Elias realized he wasn't going to receive his afternoon treat.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

Twenty-five shiny quarters, and two nickels, were pushed into the vending machine

Twenty-five; shiny quarters; and two nickels; were pushed into the vending machine

Twenty-five shiny quarters and two nickels were pushed into the vending machine

Twenty-five, shiny quarters, and two nickels, were pushed into the vending machine

Correct answer:

Twenty-five shiny quarters and two nickels were pushed into the vending machine

Explanation:

A comma is not necessary between "twenty-five" and "shiny" because they are non-coordinate adjectives. One can only say "twenty-five shiny quarters," not "shiny twenty-five quarters." If the description only makes sense with the adjectives arranged in a certain order, the adjectives are non-coordinate and should not be separated by a comma. A comma is not necessary after "quarters," because the sentence contains a list of only two items: quarters and nickels. A comma does not need to be used with "and" when it is only joining two items.

Example Question #372 : 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."

Jonas was scheduled to take his biology midterm the morning of July 7th; instead he was out joyriding with a friend, a decision that would prove detrimental to his midterm evaluation.

Possible Answers:

Jonas was scheduled to take his biology midterm the morning of July 7th, instead, he was out joyriding with a friend, a decision that would prove detrimental to his midterm evaluation.

Jonas was scheduled to take his biology midterm the morning of July 7th; instead, he was out joyriding with a friend, a decision that would prove detrimental to his midterm evaluation.

Jonas was scheduled to take his biology midterm the morning of July 7th and instead he was out joyriding with a friend, a decision that would prove detrimental to his midterm evaluation.

Jonas was scheduled to take his biology midterm the morning of July 7th; instead he was out joyriding with a friend, a decision that would prove detrimental to his midterm evaluation.

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

Jonas was scheduled to take his biology midterm the morning of July 7th; instead, he was out joyriding with a friend, a decision that would prove detrimental to his midterm evaluation.

Explanation:

A conjunctive adverb can introduce, interrupt, or conclude a single main clause. In this situation, you will often need commas to separate the conjunctive adverb from the rest of the sentence. Moreover, combining the conjunctive adverb with a coordinating or subordinating conjunction will typically prove unnecessary since conjunctive adverbs already help correlate two sentences independent of an additional conjunction.

Example Question #373 : 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 Secretary of the Treasury however asserts that additional federal aid is needed in order for educational institutions to meet the federal government's new mandates.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

Secretary Thompson however, asserts that additional federal aid is needed in order for educational institutions to meet the federal government's new mandates.

Secretary Thompson, however, asserts that additional federal aid is needed in order for educational institutions to meet the federal government's new mandates.

However Secretary Thompson asserts that additional federal aid is needed in order for educational institutions to meet the federal government's new mandates.

Secretary Thompson, however asserts that additional federal aid is needed in order for educational institutions to meet the federal government's new mandates.

Correct answer:

Secretary Thompson, however, asserts that additional federal aid is needed in order for educational institutions to meet the federal government's new mandates.

Explanation:

A conjunctive adverb can introduce, interrupt, or conclude a single main clause. In this situation, you will often need commas to separate the conjunctive adverb from the rest of the sentence. This sentence simply places "however" in the middle of a clause with no accompanying punctuation.

Example Question #374 : 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."

Private investors and benefactors accounted for nearly 75% of the program's budget, consequently, the government denied requests for grants totaling 12 million dollars.

Possible Answers:

Private investors and benefactors accounted for nearly 75% of the program's budget. Consequently the government denied requests for grants totaling 12 million dollars.

Private investors and benefactors accounted for nearly 75% of the program's budget consequently the government denied requests for grants totaling 12 million dollars.

Private investors and benefactors accounted for nearly 75% of the program's budget consequently, the government denied requests for grants totaling 12 million dollars.

Private investors and benefactors accounted for nearly 75% of the program's budget. Consequently, the government denied requests for grants totaling 12 million dollars.

Private investors and benefactors accounted for nearly 75% of the program's budget yet consequently the  government denied requests for grants totaling 12 million dollars.  

Correct answer:

Private investors and benefactors accounted for nearly 75% of the program's budget. Consequently, the government denied requests for grants totaling 12 million dollars.

Explanation:

A conjunctive adverb can introduce, interrupt, or conclude a single main clause. In this situation, you will often need commas to separate the conjunctive adverb from the rest of the sentence. Moreover, combining the conjunctive adverb with a coordinating or subordinating conjunction will typically prove unnecessary since conjunctive adverbs already help correlate two sentences independent of an additional conjunction.

Example Question #375 : 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."

However, one looks at the situation, the investment firm cannot escape taking a loss in the tens of millions.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

However one looks at the situation,

However, one looks at the situation;

However: one looks at the situation,

However; one looks at the situation,

Correct answer:

However one looks at the situation,

Explanation:

The correct answer will implement the word "however" as an adverb in the phrase "However one looks at it" rather than as a conjunctive adverb "however,". The correct answer choice will implement "However" correctly and combine the resulting modifier with the independent clause that should follow it "However one looks at the situation, the investment firm cannot escape taking a loss in the tens of millions."

Example Question #376 : 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."

Spending an afternoon with your parents can be delightful or frightful; however, you look at it, it's an opportunity to bond with the people who love you the most.

Possible Answers:

Spending an afternoon with your parents can be delightful or frightful; however you look at it, it's an opportunity to bond with the people who love you the most.

Spending an afternoon with your parents can be delightful or frightful still however, you look at it, it's an opportunity to bond with the people who love you the most.

Spending an afternoon with your parents can be delightful or frightful and, however, you look at it, it's an opportunity to bond with the people who love you the most.

NO CHANGE

Spending an afternoon with your parents can be delightful or frightful, however, you look at it, it's an opportunity to bond with the people who love you the most.

Correct answer:

Spending an afternoon with your parents can be delightful or frightful; however you look at it, it's an opportunity to bond with the people who love you the most.

Explanation:

This is a rather tricky question. In the original sentence, the "however" seems to be functioning as a conjunctive adverb. It is set up as one, with a semi-colon suggesting that it is joining two contrasting sentences. Actually "however" is functioning as a simple adverb in the phrase "however you look at it." the correct answer will omit the comma after however. All of the other answers will present comma splice errors, many of which will actually change the meaning that was originally intended.

Example Question #377 : Comma Errors

Passage adapted from Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) by Jules Verne

Phileas Fogg was a member of the Reform, and that was all.

The way in which he got admission to this exclusive club was simple enough.

He was recommended by the Barings, with whom he had an open credit. His cheques were regularly paid at sight from his account current, which was always flush.

Was Phileas Fogg rich? Undoubtedly. But those who knew him best could not imagine how he had made his fortune, and Mr. Fogg was the last person to whom to apply for the information. He was not lavish, nor, on the contrary, avaricious; for, whenever he knew that money was needed for a noble, useful, or benevolent purpose, he supplied it quietly and sometimes anonymously. He was in short the least communicative of men. He talked very little, and seemed all the more mysterious for his taciturn manner. His daily habits were quite open to observation; but whatever he did was so exactly the same thing that he had always done before, that the wits of the curious were fairly puzzled.

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

Possible Answers:

He was in short, the least communicative of men.

He was, in short, the least communicative of men.

NO CHANGE

He was, in short the least communicative of men.

Correct answer:

He was, in short, the least communicative of men.

Explanation:

Commas should only be placed around "in short," because this is a non-restrictive clause that can be removed without altering the sentence's meaning.

Example Question #378 : Comma Errors

Passage adapted from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1899) by L. Frank Baum

When Aunt Em came there to live she was a young, pretty wife. The sun and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober gray; they had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were gray also. She was thin and gaunt, and never smiled now. When Dorothy who was an orphan first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child's laughter that she would scream and press her hand upon her heart whenever Dorothy's merry voice reached her ears; and she still looked at the little girl with wonder that she could find anything to laugh at.

Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was. He was gray also, from his long beard to his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke.

It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray as her other surroundings. Toto was not gray; he was a little black dog, with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny, wee nose. Toto played all day long, and Dorothy played with him, and loved him dearly.

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

Possible Answers:

When Dorothy, who was an orphan, first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child's laughter 

When Dorothy, who was an orphan first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child's laughter

NO CHANGE

When Dorothy who was an orphan, first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child's laughter

Correct answer:

When Dorothy, who was an orphan, first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child's laughter 

Explanation:

"When Dorothy, who was an orphan, first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child's laughter" is the best choice. The phrase "who was an orphan" should be set off with commas because it is a non-restrictive clause. A non-restrictive clause is a group of words that can be deleted without damaging a sentence's integrity.

Example Question #379 : Comma Errors

Passage adapted from Rose in Bloom (1876) by Louisa May Alcott

Rose and Phebe, sitting side by side on the sofa, had evidently assumed at once the places which they were destined to fill by right of youth, sex and beauty, for Phebe had long since ceased to be the maid and become the friend, and Rose meant to have that fact established at once.

Jamie occupied the rug, on which Will and Geordie stood at ease, showing their uniforms to the best advantage, for they were now in a great school, where military drill was the delight of their souls. Steve posed gracefully in an armchair, with Mac lounging over the back of it, while Archie leaned on one corner of the low chimneypiece, looking down at Phebe as she listened to his chat with smiling lips and cheeks almost as rich in color as the carnations in her belt.

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

Possible Answers:

youth; sex; beauty

NO CHANGE

youth, sex, and beauty,

youth, and sex and beauty,

youth, and sex, and beauty,

Correct answer:

youth, sex, and beauty,

Explanation:

"Youth, sex, and beauty," is the correct answer, because a comma is needed after each word in a series. This is the simplest and clearest revision.

Example Question #380 : Comma Errors

Passage adapted from Anne of Green Gables (1908) by Lucy Maud Montgomery

And yet here was Matthew Cuthbert, at half-past three on the afternoon of a busy day, placidly driving over the hollow and up the hill; moreover, he wore a white collar and his best suit of clothes, which was plain proof that he was going out of Avonlea; and he had the buggy and the sorrel mare, which betokened that he was going a considerable distance. Now, where was Matthew Cuthbert going and why was he going there?

Had it been any other man in Avonlea, Mrs. Rachel, deftly putting this and that together, might have given a pretty good guess as to both questions. But Matthew so rarely went from home that it must be something pressing and unusual which was taking him; he was the shyest man alive and hated to have to go among strangers or to any place where he might have to talk. Matthew, dressed up with a white collar and driving in a buggy, was something that didn't happen often. Mrs. Rachel ponder as she might could make nothing of it and her afternoon's enjoyment was spoiled.

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

Possible Answers:

Mrs. Rachel, ponder as she might, could make nothing of it and her afternoon's enjoyment was spoiled.

Mrs. Rachel ponder as she might, could make nothing of it, and her afternoon's enjoyment was spoiled.

NO CHANGE

Mrs. Rachel, ponder as she might could make nothing of it and her afternoon's enjoyment was spoiled.

Mrs. Rachel, ponder as she might could make nothing of it, and her afternoon's enjoyment was spoiled.

Correct answer:

Mrs. Rachel, ponder as she might, could make nothing of it and her afternoon's enjoyment was spoiled.

Explanation:

The correct answer is, "Mrs. Rachel, ponder as she might, could make nothing of it and her afternoon's enjoyment was spoiled."

Commas should be placed around the words "ponder as she might" because they form a nonrestrictive clause (a clause that can be removed without altering the sentence's meaning).

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors