ACT English : Comma Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #885 : Act English

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

Suddenly the dog ran into the cafe to steal a piece of bread.

Possible Answers:

Suddenly, the dog ran into the cafe, to steal a piece of bread.

Suddenly, the dog ran into the cafe to steal a piece of bread.

Suddenly the dog ran, into the cafe, to steal a piece of bread.

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

Suddenly, the dog ran into the cafe to steal a piece of bread.

Explanation:

"Suddenly" is an introductory word in this sentence. Commas are used after an introductory word to separate it from the independent clause. No other commas are needed, or even possibly correct, in this sentence.

Example Question #886 : Act English

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

My daughter was born on Monday, May 13, 1989.

Possible Answers:

My daughter was born on Monday May 13 1989. 

My daughter was born on Monday May 13, 1989. 

My daughter was born on Monday, May 13 1989. 

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

Use a comma to separate a day of the week from the month ("Sunday, August 4th") and the date from the year ("August 4th, 2009") when writing a date. 

Example Question #887 : Act English

“Mathematics and Learning”

What subject should be learned first?  The question rightly troubles anyone who’s interest is in education.  Of course, young children often must learn in a very basic and rote fashion, applying their apt memorization skills to simple tasks that will serve them very well in later years when they go one to apply such knowledge to more complex topics.  However, when the time comes to designing curricula, an important question must be answered for older students, namely “What is most important first topic in these students’s education?”

An argument can be made for the use of mathematics as a tool for teaching students how to reason more clearly.  This is not because mathematics is the basis of all knowledge.  Indeed not.  There are many important subjects including not only the humanities like poetry and history but sciences like biology and physiology too.   These topics are not strictly speaking mathematical in nature, even though mathematics can be used in it in many ways.

Our minds are best geared for learning things that we can sense, things that are visible and tangible.  Although mathematics is abstract, it can begin with this kind of sense derived experience.  Beginning with simple everyday examples, children can be taught the more abstract and difficult skills that must be learned for the sake of the development of mathematical skills.  In the process of learning these topics, the children will begin to learn important rules about reasoning.  He or she will learn how several propositions can serve as the basis for conclusions.  They will learn how certain properties are related to various geometric figures and arithmetical rules.  Although much of this will be memorized at first, with time, they will have the opportunity to see that human reasoning in mathematical subjects is orderly and logical.  On the basis of such “logical experience,” young learners can then begin to be taught the rules of logic that they have been using all along.  As the medievals used to say, they could go from logica utens, logic used in other subjects, to logica docens logic taught, as a unique, and separate subject.

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

Possible Answers:

Beginning with simple everyday examples children can be taught the more

Beginning with simple, everyday, examples, children can be taught the more

NO CHANGE

Beginning with simple everyday, examples, children can be taught the more

Beginning with simple, everyday examples, children can be taught the more

Correct answer:

Beginning with simple, everyday examples, children can be taught the more

Explanation:

Generally speaking, when you have a list of adjectives, each modifying the same noun, you should separate those adjectives by commas. In the introductory clause to this sentence, both "simple" and "everyday" modify "examples." Therefore, a comma should be placed between "simple" and "everyday."

Example Question #888 : Act English

“Intellectual Virtues”

Whenever someone talks about being “virtuous,” we immediately think of someone whose very moral.  Perhaps we even think of people who are a bit boring for virtuous people can appear to have no fun at least in the popular imagination.  Whatever the case might be, almost any reader would be surprised to see the expression “intellectual virtues.”  What could this expression mean to designate!  At best, most people would say, “Such virtues must describe people for who knowledge is combined with devotion and rigorous discipline.”  That is; they would seem to describe the person who has a disciplined character in addition to being intelligent.

However, in ancient and medieval philosophy, certain intellectual capacities were considered virtues.  These character traits were not quite the same as moral character traits or virtues.  To understand this idea, it can be helpful to consider two example people, one whose skills are the fruit of a so-called intellectual virtue and the other whose skills are not.

It is easier to start with the person who does not have a given intellectual virtue.  We all know someone who is not very good at math, that is, someone for who math is difficult even though he or she might be quite skilled at many other tasks   It makes sense to say that this person doesn’t have an intellectual virtue.  Likewise, think of the person who is only able to memorize formulas.  Such a person is often very good at working through many problems with deft skill.  This person seems to be a “wiz” at geometry and algebra, quickly solving equations and proofs. 

However, this latter person might suddenly be presented with a difficult, new problem.  When we notice that he or she does not have the creative skill and insight to solve the problem, we realize that he or she does’nt have a so-called “intellectual virtue.”  This person merely has a habit—a particular skill that is helpful but does not indicate true and complete mathematical knowledge.  The person who is able to understand the mathematics and creatively apply this knowledge to solve new problems.  This person has a true intellectual virtue.  They have a particular ability for intellectual insight, able to probe the difficult domain of this topic.  This is much more noble as the mere habit of being able to balance equations and repeat facts about geometric figures!

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:

people who are a bit boring for virtuous people can appear

people, who are a bit boring for virtuous people can appear

NO CHANGE

people who are a bit boring, for virtuous people can appear

people who are a bit boring for virtuous people often appear

Correct answer:

people who are a bit boring for virtuous people can appear

Explanation:

This sentence is a bit difficult to read at first glance. The error causes part of these problems, for you should have a comma before the conjunction "for." There are two subjects at play here. In the first clause, the subject is "we." In the second, it is "virtuous people." Therefore, you should separate the two clauses with a comma. This makes this shift much easier to read.

Example Question #889 : Act English

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

We went for a walk on the beach, the sunset was really beautiful.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

We went for a walk on the beach the sunset was really beautiful.

We went for a walk, on the beach, the sunset was really beautiful.

We went for a walk, on the beach the sunset was really beautiful.

We went for a walk on the beach. The sunset was really beautiful.

Correct answer:

We went for a walk on the beach. The sunset was really beautiful.

Explanation:

This question asks you to correct a comma splice, which occurs when two complete sentences (independent clauses) are incorrectly connected with only a comma. The phrases "We went for a walk on the beach" and "the sunset was really beautiful" are each complete sentences, containing a subject and a main verb. Therefore, they should be separated by punctuation such as a period. Without any punctuation to separate the two independent clauses, the sentence becomes a run-on sentence.

Example Question #890 : Act English

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

I love my dog, I fed her a treat.

Possible Answers:

I love my dog I fed her a treat.

NO CHANGE

I love and fed a treat to my dog.

I love my dog and I fed her a treat.

I love my dog, so I fed her a treat.

Correct answer:

I love my dog, so I fed her a treat.

Explanation:

The original sentence contains a comma splice, which is a grammatical error created by an author combining two independent clauses with only a comma. To combine two independent clauses, you need either a semicolon, or a comma in addition to a conjunction such as "and," "but," "so," or "if."

Example Question #401 : 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."

Marian never could have admitted it to herself, she really admired her rival's skill in the competition.

Possible Answers:

Marian never could have admitted it, to herself, she really admired her rival's skill in the competition.

NO CHANGE

Marian never could have admitted it to herself, but she really admired her rival's skill in the competition.

Marian never could have admitted it to herself she really admired her rival's skill in the competition.

Marian never could have admitted it, to herself she really admired her rival's skill in the competition.

Correct answer:

Marian never could have admitted it to herself, but she really admired her rival's skill in the competition.

Explanation:

This question asks you to correct a comma splice, which occurs when two complete sentences, also known as independent clauses, are incorrectly joined with only a comma. Two independent clauses can be separated by a period, question mark, or exclamation point; or they can be separated by a comma and a conjunction. The use of a comma and the conjunction "but" in the formation "Marian never could have admitted it to herself, but she really admired her rival's skill in the competition" forms a complete sentence and correctly expresses the contrast between Marian's admiration and her inability to admit it to herself. Without any punctuation to separate the two independent clauses, they form a run-on sentence error.

Example Question #402 : Comma Errors

Josh suffered from a fear of dogs ever since he is a little boy. He would shiver in his boots thinking of a dog barking at him, biting him, or that could chase him. He had never met a single dog he liked. The scarier dog he had ever seen was Mr. Green’s dog, whom he had to pass every day. On his way to school. This dog barked so loudly it made Josh’s hairs stand on end.

She said that there was no need to be afraid. Josh’s mom told him that dogs only barked because they were excited to see him. She told him that he just needed to be confident and not act afraid of this dogs’ barking, and speak in a reassuring tone. Then the dog would quiet down and act more friendly.

Josh felt that neither confidence or a reassuring tone would make any difference. He didn’t think he would ever get over his fear. However, one day he had enough. Barking for hours, he realized the dog was bored and just needed a friend. He wasn’t sure if his mother’s advice would prove true? Hiding his fear, he approached the dog and spoke to it in a reassuring tone. To his surprise, the dog wagged it’s tail and quieted down right away. 

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

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

To his surprise the dog

To his surprise; the dog

To his surprise. The dog

To his surprise! The dog

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

This question asks you about the grammatically correct use of a comma. The sentence is correct as written because a parenthetical element like "To his surprise" should be set off from the main part of the sentence with a comma. The phrase "To his surprise" is not a complete sentence and therefore it should not end with a period or exclamation mark. If the comma is removed, the sentence becomes a run-on.

Example Question #403 : Comma Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, select “NO CHANGE.”

You are taking too long, and there's no way we will ever finish the project before the due date.

Possible Answers:

too long and

NO CHANGE

too long. And

too long; and

too long and,

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

This question asks you about the grammatically correct use of a comma. In the original sentence, a comma and a conjunction are correctly used to join two complete sentences that are related. The comma should directly follow the conjunction, "and." It is incorrect to use a period or a semicolon and still include the conjunction "and," because a conjunction should not follow a period or a semicolon. Without any punctuation after the conjunction "and," the sentence becomes a run-on. 

Example Question #404 : Comma Errors

Coupons

Are you trying to stick to a budget? Using coupons for [61] purchases, also known as “couponing” is a great way to save money on groceries. [62] Coupons are a little piece of paper that can give you a discount on what you buy. You will be amazed at the [63] great bargains and amazing savings you can get!

It’s easy to get started. [64] When you open up your daily newspaper, one might find a glossy insert full of coupons. [65] Some of the coupons will be for things you don’t buy, some will be for things you buy all the time. Go through the coupons and [66] chop out the ones you can use.

The key to successful couponing is getting multiple copies of coupon circulars. Ask [67] your friends, your neighbors, and family if they have any extras. Some coupon users even go through the recycling at their office to find more coupons! [68] Completely devoted, these circulars help coupon users to get even more savings.

Couponing might sound like hard work, but for [69] many people, it’s also a hobby. Not only does it help them save hundreds of dollars per year, [70] but instead it gives them a fun challenge every time they do their shopping.

Is there perhaps a greater value to a life lived without constant counting, penny-pinching, and miserliness? [71] But of what value are such savings? [72] At the end of the day; money is a construct, invented by the elite for the sole purpose of controlling the populace. [73] If we accept this fundamental truth, it behooves one to question the monetary structures that control our lives. Indeed, from this perspective, the very practice of couponing might seem a venial distraction from the valuable human endeavor of personal philosophical consideration. [74]

The papers we pore over should be in our books; the pennies we save should be in the currency of our happiness; [75] the budget we have made should have been a budget of our contentment.

A sort of couponing of the soul might ultimately be the solution.

 

Choose the answer that best corrects section [65].

Possible Answers:

Some of the coupons will be for things you don’t buy, but some will be for things you buy all the time.

Some of the coupons will be for things you don’t buy some will be for things you buy all the time.

NO CHANGE

Some of the coupons will be for things you don’t buy but some will be for things you buy all the time.

Correct answer:

Some of the coupons will be for things you don’t buy, but some will be for things you buy all the time.

Explanation:

This question asks you to correct a comma splice error. A comma splice occurs when two complete sentences are joined with just a comma. We have two options to correct a comma splice. We can either replace the comma with a period to create two complete sentences, or we can use a comma and a conjunction. In this context, the second sentence provides a contrast to the first sentence, so it is appropriate to use a comma and the conjunction “but.” Eliminating the comma creates a run-on sentence even if the conjunction "but" is added. The use of the conjunction "and" is grammatically correct, but it is not as strong a choice since it does not communicate the contrast between the two sentences. 

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