ACT English : Comma Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #511 : Act English

The Wowzer 25 (or W25) was regarded to be the best (1) video game system of all time when it came out. Wowzer released the Wowzer 25 in America during the year 1996 (2) as a follow-up to their last system, the Superduper Wowzer that (3) was released (4) in America five years before. The W25 derives its name from its resolution being 25-bit (5) which is something no other console had done before. (6) With 25-bit resolution, a player could finally roam a 3-D world with Wowzer’s mascot WowMan. Being able to play in a 3-D world was groundbreaking; it was an experience gamers at the time would not forget. (7) The W25’s graphics were good and then became even better after Wowzer had released (8) an expansion pack that increased the W25’s RAM from 4 megabytes to 8. (9) As the console grew, the graphics were becoming (10) better and better since (11) developers became more comfortable developing their games for it. (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:

Wowzer, which

Wowzer which

Wowzer, that

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

Wowzer, which

Explanation:

The phrase, "the Superduper Wowzer," is additional information in the sentence and thus should be set off in commas.

Example Question #141 : Punctuation Errors

Adapted from “Authority: The Unavoidable” in What’s Wrong with the World by G.K. Chesterton (1912)

The important point here is only that you cannot get rid of authority in education. It is not so much that parental authority ought to be preserved. The more, important truth, is that such authority cannot be destroyed. Mr. Bernard Shaw once said that he had hated the idea of forming a child's mind. In that case, Mr. Bernard Shaw had better hang himself, for he hates something inseparable from human life. I only mentioned [earlier in the book] the drawing out of the child’s abilities in order to point out that even this mental trick does not avoid the idea of parental or scholastic authority. The educator drawing out is just as arbitrary and coercive as the instructor’s action, for he draws out what he chooses. He decides what in the child shall be developed and what shall not be developed.

The only result of all this pompous distinction between the “educator” and the “instructor” is who the instructor pokes where he likes and the educator pulls where he likes. Exactly the same intellectual violence is done to the creature whom is poked and pulled. We must all except the responsibility of this intellectual violence, whether from poking or from pulling.

Education is violent; because it is creative. It is such because it is human. It is as reckless as playing on the fiddle, as dogmatic as drawing a picture, as brutal as building a house. In short, it is what all human action is, it is an interference with life and growth. After that it is a trifling and even a jocular question whether we say of this tremendous tormentor, the artist Man, that he puts things into us like a pharmacist or draws things out of us.

Which of the following is the best form of the underlined section?

Possible Answers:

After that it is a trifling, and even, a jocular question

After that, it is a trifling and even a jocular question

After that it is a trifling, and even a jocular, question

After that it is a trifling and even a jocular question

Correct answer:

After that, it is a trifling and even a jocular question

Explanation:

There are only two options that should be somewhat tempting: 

(1) "After that, it is a trifling and even a jocular question"

(2) "After that it is a trifling and even a jocular question" (NO CHANGE)

The other options provided include rather peculiar (and incorrect) uses of commas. Between the two options noted above, (1) makes more sense because it separates the temporal phrase "after that" from the subject of the body of the sentence.

Example Question #33 : Comma Errors

Adapted from "The Philosophy of Composition" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

Charles Dickens in a note now lying before me (1) alluding to an examination I once made of the mechanism of [the novel] Barnaby Rudge (2), says (3) "By the way, are you aware that Godwin wrote his 'Caleb Williams' backwards? He first involved his hero in a web of difficulties, forming the second volume, and then, for the first, cast about him for some mode of accounting for what had been done" (4)

I cannot think this the exacting (5) mode of procedure on the part of Godwin — and indeed what he himself acknowledges, is not altogether in accordance with Mr. Dickens idea (6) — but the author of “Caleb Williams” was too good an artist not to perceive the advantage derivative (7) from at least a somewhat similar process. Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its dénouement before any thing be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dénouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable (8) air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents (9) and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention.

There is a radical error I think (10) in the usual mode of constructing a story. Either history affords a thesis — or one is suggested by an incident of the day — or, at best, the author sets himself to work in the combination of striking events to form merely the basis of his narrative — designing, generally, to fill in with description, dialogue, or autorial (11) comment, whatever crevices of fact, or action, may from page to page (12) render themselves apparent.

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:

Dickens, in a note now lying before me

NO CHANGE

Dickens in a note now lying before me,

Dickens, in a note now lying before me,

Correct answer:

Dickens, in a note now lying before me,

Explanation:

The phrase "in a note now lying before me" is extra information in the sentence and must be set off in commas, or else it makes it sound like Dickens himself is lying in a note before Poe.

Example Question #151 : Punctuation Errors

Adapted from "The Philosophy of Composition" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

Charles Dickens in a note now lying before me (1) alluding to an examination I once made of the mechanism of [the novel] Barnaby Rudge (2), says (3) "By the way, are you aware that Godwin wrote his 'Caleb Williams' backwards? He first involved his hero in a web of difficulties, forming the second volume, and then, for the first, cast about him for some mode of accounting for what had been done" (4)

I cannot think this the exacting (5) mode of procedure on the part of Godwin — and indeed what he himself acknowledges, is not altogether in accordance with Mr. Dickens idea (6) — but the author of “Caleb Williams” was too good an artist not to perceive the advantage derivative (7) from at least a somewhat similar process. Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its dénouement before any thing be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dénouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable (8) air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents (9) and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention.

There is a radical error I think (10) in the usual mode of constructing a story. Either history affords a thesis — or one is suggested by an incident of the day — or, at best, the author sets himself to work in the combination of striking events to form merely the basis of his narrative — designing, generally, to fill in with description, dialogue, or autorial (11) comment, whatever crevices of fact, or action, may from page to page (12) render themselves apparent.

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:

says:

says;

NO CHANGE

says,

Correct answer:

says,

Explanation:

The most appropriate punctuation to complete this attribution phrase (which, in its simplest form, is "Charles Dickens says") is a comma.

Example Question #172 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Adapted from "The Philosophy of Composition" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

Charles Dickens in a note now lying before me (1) alluding to an examination I once made of the mechanism of [the novel] Barnaby Rudge (2), says (3) "By the way, are you aware that Godwin wrote his 'Caleb Williams' backwards? He first involved his hero in a web of difficulties, forming the second volume, and then, for the first, cast about him for some mode of accounting for what had been done" (4)

I cannot think this the exacting (5) mode of procedure on the part of Godwin — and indeed what he himself acknowledges, is not altogether in accordance with Mr. Dickens idea (6) — but the author of “Caleb Williams” was too good an artist not to perceive the advantage derivative (7) from at least a somewhat similar process. Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its dénouement before any thing be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dénouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable (8) air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents (9) and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention.

There is a radical error I think (10) in the usual mode of constructing a story. Either history affords a thesis — or one is suggested by an incident of the day — or, at best, the author sets himself to work in the combination of striking events to form merely the basis of his narrative — designing, generally, to fill in with description, dialogue, or autorial (11) comment, whatever crevices of fact, or action, may from page to page (12) render themselves apparent.

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:

incidents,

incidents:

incident's

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

incidents,

Explanation:

A comma is required here, since the phrase which follows can be taken out of the sentence without damaging its meaning.

Example Question #31 : Comma Errors

Adapted from "The Philosophy of Composition" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

Charles Dickens in a note now lying before me (1) alluding to an examination I once made of the mechanism of [the novel] Barnaby Rudge (2), says (3) "By the way, are you aware that Godwin wrote his 'Caleb Williams' backwards? He first involved his hero in a web of difficulties, forming the second volume, and then, for the first, cast about him for some mode of accounting for what had been done" (4)

I cannot think this the exacting (5) mode of procedure on the part of Godwin — and indeed what he himself acknowledges, is not altogether in accordance with Mr. Dickens idea (6) — but the author of “Caleb Williams” was too good an artist not to perceive the advantage derivative (7) from at least a somewhat similar process. Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its dénouement before any thing be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dénouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable (8) air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents (9) and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention.

There is a radical error I think (10) in the usual mode of constructing a story. Either history affords a thesis — or one is suggested by an incident of the day — or, at best, the author sets himself to work in the combination of striking events to form merely the basis of his narrative — designing, generally, to fill in with description, dialogue, or autorial (11) comment, whatever crevices of fact, or action, may from page to page (12) render themselves apparent.

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

error, I think

error I think,

error, I think,

Correct answer:

error, I think,

Explanation:

The phrase, "I think," is additional to the entire sentence and can be taken out without harming it, and thus it should be set off in commas.

Example Question #32 : Comma Errors

Adapted from "The Philosophy of Composition" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

Charles Dickens in a note now lying before me (1) alluding to an examination I once made of the mechanism of [the novel] Barnaby Rudge (2), says (3) "By the way, are you aware that Godwin wrote his 'Caleb Williams' backwards? He first involved his hero in a web of difficulties, forming the second volume, and then, for the first, cast about him for some mode of accounting for what had been done" (4)

I cannot think this the exacting (5) mode of procedure on the part of Godwin — and indeed what he himself acknowledges, is not altogether in accordance with Mr. Dickens idea (6) — but the author of “Caleb Williams” was too good an artist not to perceive the advantage derivative (7) from at least a somewhat similar process. Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its dénouement before any thing be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dénouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable (8) air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents (9) and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention.

There is a radical error I think (10) in the usual mode of constructing a story. Either history affords a thesis — or one is suggested by an incident of the day — or, at best, the author sets himself to work in the combination of striking events to form merely the basis of his narrative — designing, generally, to fill in with description, dialogue, or autorial (11) comment, whatever crevices of fact, or action, may from page to page (12) render themselves apparent.

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:

may from page to page,

NO CHANGE

may, from page to page,

may, from page to page

Correct answer:

may, from page to page,

Explanation:

The phrase, "from page to page," is extra information in the sentence and can be taken out, and thus it should be set off in commas.

Example Question #521 : Act English

"Whomever (1) wins the game will play in the Megabowl," (2) Paul shouted, and Derek wasnt (3) sure how to respond.  He dint (4) particularly care for football generally, (5) or for the Megabowl specifically but (6) he did not want to upset his best friend, whom (7) was obviously excessively (8) excited about the news.  He took a deep breath then (9) he said  "That's wonderful news (10) Paul.  Where is the game be (11) held?"  Paul grinned and replied, "In Antarctica!"  Derek blinked.  "Since when are they having football games in Antarctica" he (12) asked.  Paul simply smiled and said, "There had to be some good to come out of global warming, right?"

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

news;

news:

news,

Correct answer:

news,

Explanation:

Since "Paul" is additional to the main sentence, it is considered a nonrestrictive element and thus should be separated from the rest by a comma

Example Question #31 : Comma Errors

Adapted from Looking Backward: 2000 to 1887 by Edward Bellamy (1888)

I first saw the light in the city of Boston in the year 1857. "What" you say "eighteen fifty-seven? That is an odd slip. He means nineteen fifty-seven, of course." I beg pardon, but there is no mistake. It was about four in the afternoon of December the 26th, one day after Christmas, in the year 1857, not 1957, that I first breathed the east wind of Boston, which, I assure the reader, was at that remote period marked by the same penetrating quality characterizing it in the present year of grace, 2000.

These statements seem so absurd on their face, especially when I add that I am a young man apparently of about thirty years of age, that no person can be blamed for refusing to read another word of what promises to be a mere imposition upon his credulity. Nevertheless I earnestly assure the reader that no imposition is intended, and will undertake if he shall follow me a few pages to entirely convince him of this. If I may, then, provisionally assume, with the pledge of justifying the assumption, that I know better than the reader when I was born, I will go on with my narrative.

Which is the best form of the underlined section?

Possible Answers:

"What!" you say

NO CHANGE

"What!" you say,

"What," you say,

Correct answer:

"What!" you say,

Explanation:

The exclamation "What" here necessitates an exclamation mark, and since the quotation carries on after "you say," that phrase requires a comma.

Example Question #40 : Comma Errors

Adapted from Looking Backward: 2000 to 1887 by Edward Bellamy (1888)

I first saw the light in the city of Boston in the year 1857. "What" you say "eighteen fifty-seven? That is an odd slip. He means nineteen fifty-seven, of course." I beg pardon, but there is no mistake. It was about four in the afternoon of December the 26th, one day after Christmas, in the year 1857, not 1957, that I first breathed the east wind of Boston, which, I assure the reader, was at that remote period marked by the same penetrating quality characterizing it in the present year of grace, 2000.

These statements seem so absurd on their face, especially when I add that I am a young man apparently of about thirty years of age, that no person can be blamed for refusing to read another word of what promises to be a mere imposition upon his credulity. Nevertheless I earnestly assure the reader that no imposition is intended, and will undertake if he shall follow me a few pages to entirely convince him of this. If I may, then, provisionally assume, with the pledge of justifying the assumption, that I know better than the reader when I was born, I will go on with my narrative.

Which is the best form of the underlined section?

Possible Answers:

Boston which I assure the reader was

Boston which, I assure the reader was

NO CHANGE

Boston which I assure the reader, was

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

Although it may seem overpunctuated to contemporary eyes, the original phrasing here is correct, as the elements set off in commas can be removed from the sentence without changing the original meaning.

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