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 #411 : 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.”

Harris doesn't like the flavor of chocolate cake but he will eat it to be polite to his family.

Possible Answers:

cake and 

cake; but

NO CHANGE

cake, but

cake, and

Correct answer:

cake, but

Explanation:

This question asks you about the need for punctuation preceding a conjunction. A comma should be used before a coordinating conjunction like "but." With no comma, the original sentence is a run-on sentence. A semicolon is not correct punctuation before a coordinating conjunction. Replacing "but" with "and" is not a good choice because this replacement eliminates the sense of contrast needed between the first and second parts of the sentence.

Example Question #412 : Comma Errors

“Bach and German Hymnody”

[31] The great German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach was a member of a prodigiously talented musical family. [32] A significant number of Johann Sebastians ancestors and descendants were musicians of various levels of talent. [33] Although he was known for music of a variety of forms, one of his most enduring legacies is the repertoire of chorale music by which he improved and solidified the world of German congregational singing.

During the period after the Protestant Reformation, a number of hymns were written for use in the common worship of the Christians of the time. [34] The structured form of these compositions were well suited for congregational singing although they would sound strange to our contemporary ears. [35] The harmonies and meters of these hymns are very close in character to the music with which we are familiar. They lack some of the standard structural elements that we take for granted in this form of organized [36] Western music, these small differences would stand out to our sensibilities.

It was the great glory of Johann Sebastian Bach to have harmonized a great number of these hymns, often penning multiple such harmonies. [37] One solitary single melody might be made by Bach into three, four, or even five different harmonic compositions. [38] This amazing feat of musical prowess is no small addition to the original behest of Lutheran hymns that Bach had inherited from his fellow religious brethren. [39] Many of these harmonies remain to this day as classic renditions of these songs. [40] They are sung not only in the German world but in Protestant and Catholic services. [41] Indeed they are even sung in wholly secular concerts thanks to their great beauty!

Interestingly enough, Bach was more recognized as a talented performer, rather than composer, of music in his own lifetime. While he was still composing, knowledge of Bach’s work was limited to music connoisseurs who happened to be physically near places [42] he lived and worked. It was not until the early 19th century, when the first biography of Bach was published, that academic and popular interest [43] truly picked up steam. In the two centuries that followed, his works have continued to proliferate in both religious and purely musical contexts.

This great diffusion of one mans’ work is a testament to his prodigious talent. [44] It also stands as a testament to the fact that Bach’s work came at a pivotal time when the Protestant hymnody was crystallizing, as well as when Western harmonies were coming into a particular expression that is known as the Baroque. [45]

Choose the answer that best corrects section [35].

Possible Answers:

The harmonies and meters of these hymns are very close in character to the music, with which we are familiar.

The harmonies, and meters of these hymns are very close in character to the music with which we are familiar.

NO CHANGE

The harmonies, and meters, of these hymns are very close in character to the music with which we are familiar.

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

This sentence requires no changes. The options that add commas are superfluous (and confusing), and the one option that changes the verb "are" to "have been" inappropriately shifts the tense to the past, which is unnecessary. 

Example Question #413 : Comma Errors

“Bach and German Hymnody”

[31] The great German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach was a member of a prodigiously talented musical family. [32] A significant number of Johann Sebastians ancestors and descendants were musicians of various levels of talent. [33] Although he was known for music of a variety of forms, one of his most enduring legacies is the repertoire of chorale music by which he improved and solidified the world of German congregational singing.

During the period after the Protestant Reformation, a number of hymns were written for use in the common worship of the Christians of the time. [34] The structured form of these compositions were well suited for congregational singing although they would sound strange to our contemporary ears. [35] The harmonies and meters of these hymns are very close in character to the music with which we are familiar. They lack some of the standard structural elements that we take for granted in this form of organized [36] Western music, these small differences would stand out to our sensibilities.

It was the great glory of Johann Sebastian Bach to have harmonized a great number of these hymns, often penning multiple such harmonies. [37] One solitary single melody might be made by Bach into three, four, or even five different harmonic compositions. [38] This amazing feat of musical prowess is no small addition to the original behest of Lutheran hymns that Bach had inherited from his fellow religious brethren. [39] Many of these harmonies remain to this day as classic renditions of these songs. [40] They are sung not only in the German world but in Protestant and Catholic services. [41] Indeed they are even sung in wholly secular concerts thanks to their great beauty!

Interestingly enough, Bach was more recognized as a talented performer, rather than composer, of music in his own lifetime. While he was still composing, knowledge of Bach’s work was limited to music connoisseurs who happened to be physically near places [42] he lived and worked. It was not until the early 19th century, when the first biography of Bach was published, that academic and popular interest [43] truly picked up steam. In the two centuries that followed, his works have continued to proliferate in both religious and purely musical contexts.

This great diffusion of one mans’ work is a testament to his prodigious talent. [44] It also stands as a testament to the fact that Bach’s work came at a pivotal time when the Protestant hymnody was crystallizing, as well as when Western harmonies were coming into a particular expression that is known as the Baroque. [45]

 

Choose the answer that best corrects section [41].

Possible Answers:

Indeed they are even sung in wholly secular concerts thanks to their great beauty.

NO CHANGE

Indeed, they are even sung in wholly secular concerts thanks to their great beauty.

Indeed, they are even sung in wholly secular concerts thanks to their great beauty!

Correct answer:

Indeed, they are even sung in wholly secular concerts thanks to their great beauty!

Explanation:

An introductory interjection like "indeed" needs to be followed by a comma. As the sentence stands, it makes sense for it to have an exclamation point at the end. It is truly an interjection of surprise or astonishment. Therefore, you should leave the exclamation point at the end. There is no need for a comma after "concerts." If the sentence started with "thanks to their great beauty," it could be argued that this expression should be set off by a comma; however, where it is located now, no comma is needed for the sake of clarity.

Example Question #414 : Comma Errors

“Bach and German Hymnody” by Matthew Minerd (2016)

The great German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach was a member of a prodigiously talented musical family. A significant number of Johann Sebastians ancestors and descendants were musicians of various levels of talent. Although he was known for music of a variety of forms, one of his most enduring legacies is the repertoire of chorale music by which he improved and solidified the world of German congregational singing.

During the period after the Protestant Reformation, a number of hymns were written for use in the common worship of the Christians of the time. The structured form of these compositions were well suited for congregational singing although they would sound strange to our contemporary ears. The harmonies and meters of these hymns are very close in character to the music with which we are familiar. However, they lack some of the standard structural elements that we take for granted in this form of organized Western music. These small differences would stand out to our sensibilities.

It was the great glory of Johann Sebastian to have harmonized a great number of these hymns, often penning multiple such harmonies. One single melody might be made by Bach into three, four, or even five different harmonic compositions. This amazing feat of musical prowess is no small addition to the original behest of Lutheran hymns that Bach had inherited from his fellow religious brethren. Many of these harmonies remain to this day as classic renditions of these songs. They are sung not only in the German world but in Protestant and Catholic services. Indeed they are even sung in wholly secular concerts thanks to their great beauty!

This great diffusion of one mans’ work is a testament to his prodigious talent. It also stands as a testament to the fact that Bach’s work came at a pivotal time when the Protestant hymnody was crystalizing, as well as when Western harmonies were coming into a particular expression that is known as the Baroque.

How should the underlined and bolded selection be changed?

Possible Answers:

This great diffusion of one mans’ work are a testament to his prodigious talent.

This great diffusion of one mans’s work is a testament to his prodigious talent.

NO CHANGE

This great diffusion of one man’s work is a testament to his prodigious talent.

This great diffusion of one mans work is a testament to his prodigious talent.

Correct answer:

This great diffusion of one man’s work is a testament to his prodigious talent.

Explanation:

This is merely a problem of forming the correct possessive form of "man." For this, you need to add the apostrophe after the "n" in the singular noun "man." No other changes are necessary.

Example Question #415 : Comma Errors

“The Dark Ages?” by Matthew Minerd (2016)

There are two different ways to consider the so-called “Dark Ages.” On the one hand, you can think of the period directly after the fall of the Roman Empire, when civilization began to collapse throughout the Western Empire. On the other hand, you can consider the period that followed this initial collapse of society. It is a gross simplification too use the adjective dark to describe the civilization of either of these periods.

As regards the first period it is quite a simplification to consider this period to be a single historical moment. It is not as though the civilization switched off like a lightbulb. At one moment light and then, at the next, dark. Instead, the decline of civilization occurred over a period of numerous decades and was, in fact, already occurring for many years before the so-called period of darkness. Thus, the decline of civilization was not a rapid collapse into barbarism, but instead, was a slow alteration of the cultural milieu of a portion of Europe. Indeed, the Eastern Roman Empire retained much of it’s cultural status during these years of decline!

More importantly, the period following the slow collapse of the Western Empire was much less “dark” than almost every popular telling states. Indeed, even during the period of decline, the seeds for cultural restoration was being sown. A key element of this cultural revival were the formation of monastic communities throughout the countryside of what we now know as Europe. Although these were not the only positive force during these centuries, the monasteries had played an important role in preserving and advancing the cause of culture through at least the thirteenth century and arguably until the Renaissance.

How should the underlined and bolded selection be changed?

Possible Answers:

As regards the first period, it is quite a simplification to consider this period to be a single historical moment.

As regards, the first period it is quite a simplification to consider this period to be a single historical moment.

NO CHANGE

As regards the first period it is quite a simplification to consider this period, to be a single historical moment.

As regards the first period, it is quite a simplification to consider this period, to be a single historical moment.

Correct answer:

As regards the first period, it is quite a simplification to consider this period to be a single historical moment.

Explanation:

The initial subordinate clause, "As regards the first period," needs to be set off from the rest of the sentence in order to help its clarity. The main clause picks up at, "It is quite a simplification . . ." By separating off the initial clause in this manner, you help the reader to know where the subordinate clause ends and the main sentence starts.

Example Question #416 : Comma Errors

“The Dark Ages?” by Matthew Minerd (2016)

There are two different ways to consider the so-called “Dark Ages.” On the one hand, you can think of the period directly after the fall of the Roman Empire, when civilization began to collapse throughout the Western Empire. On the other hand, you can consider the period that followed this initial collapse of society. It is a gross simplification too use the adjective dark to describe the civilization of either of these periods.

As regards the first period it is quite a simplification to consider this period to be a single historical moment. It is not as though the civilization switched off like a lightbulb. At one moment light and then, at the next, dark. Instead, the decline of civilization occurred over a period of numerous decades and was, in fact, already occurring for many years before the so-called period of darkness. Thus, the decline of civilization was not a rapid collapse into barbarism, but instead, was a slow alteration of the cultural milieu of a portion of Europe. Indeed, the Eastern Roman Empire retained much of it’s cultural status during these years of decline!

More importantly, the period following the slow collapse of the Western Empire was much less “dark” than almost every popular telling states. Indeed, even during the period of decline, the seeds for cultural restoration was being sown. A key element of this cultural revival were the formation of monastic communities throughout the countryside of what we now know as Europe. Although these were not the only positive force during these centuries, the monasteries had played an important role in preserving and advancing the cause of culture through at least the thirteenth century and arguably until the Renaissance.

How should the underlined and bolded selection be changed?

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

Thus, the decline of civilization was not a rapid collapse into barbarism but, instead, were a slow alteration of the cultural milieu of a portion of Europe.

Thus, the decline of civilization was not a rapid collapse into barbarism, but, instead, was a slow alteration of the cultural milieu of a portion of Europe.

Thus, the decline of civilization was not a rapid collapse into barbarism but, instead, was a slow alteration of the cultural milieu of a portion of Europe.

Thus, the decline of civilization was not a rapid collapse into barbarism, but instead was a slow alteration of the cultural milieu of a portion of Europe.

Correct answer:

Thus, the decline of civilization was not a rapid collapse into barbarism but, instead, was a slow alteration of the cultural milieu of a portion of Europe.

Explanation:

As written, this sentence has two issues. The first is its use of a comma directly before the conjunction "but." Such a comma is used only when you have two independent clauses being joined. Since the subject does not change, you do not have two wholly independent clauses. Secondly, the sentence needs a comma before the word "instead" to set that word off from the rest of the sentence, as it slightly interrupts the flow of the main idea.

Example Question #417 : Comma Errors

Maybe your thinking of getting a dog; but you are not sure how it will affect your budget. Don’t worry! It’s possible to enjoy the companionship with a dog without spending too much of your precious dollars.

First, you will want to make a list of all the necessary items needed before you bring Fluffy home. Compare costs at different pet stores, grocery stores and big box stores. You will need to buy food, a leash, and purchase toys for your dog.

When it comes to the many dog food choices, you don’t want to just buy the cheaper option. You will want to do some research to see what is healthiest for your dog! One of the best ways to save money on dog food is to buy it in bulk.

Don’t forget to plan for some other big expenses, the vet consultation, wellness exam, and any treatments your dog needs. When you bring your pet to the vet, they may need shots, which can vary for price. Call different clinics in the area and ask how much they charge for the standard immunizations? You might find that there is a lot of differences between offices.

The key to sticking to your budget is planning everything out! With good preparation and organization, a dog will not cost you more money than you planned for.

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

Possible Answers:

big expenses: the vet consultation

big expenses such as, the vet consultation

NO CHANGE

big expenses the vet consultation

big expenses; the vet consultation

Correct answer:

big expenses: the vet consultation

Explanation:

This question asks you about the appropriate punctuation to introduce a list. A colon should be used to introduce a list of two or more items. The items mentioned in this sentence ("vet consultation, wellness exam, and any treatments") are all examples of "big expenses," so a colon should be used instead of a comma to introduce the list.

Example Question #418 : Comma Errors

Fashion, that ever-changing entity has thrown us some curveballs in the last year. No one expected that gym pants would become acceptable workwear, but that’s exactly what has happened! First seen on the runway these casual, slouchy pants bridge the gap between exercise attire and business casual. They have comfortable, elastic waists but feature crisp lines and smart patterns.

Even though top executives have been seen sporting this edgy look, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can pull it off too! Think about your office dress code and how relaxed it is. For instance, do you see other people in your office wearing less traditional clothing, and do people push the boundaries without getting in trouble. If every person in your office is wearing a button-down shirt, suits, and a tie, this fun fashion may be best left to the weekend.

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

Possible Answers:

First seen on the runway; these casual

First seen on the runway! These casual

First seen on the runway, these casual

NO CHANGE

First seen on the runway: these casual

Correct answer:

First seen on the runway, these casual

Explanation:

This question asks you about the correct punctuation to use between an introductory phrase and an independent clause. The introductory phrase, "First seen on the runway," must be separated from the main part of the sentence by a comma. The lack of a comma in the original text creates a run-on sentence. It is not appropriate to use an exclamation point or semicolon after the introductory phrase, since it is not a complete sentence in itself. A colon should only be used to introduce a list, a quotation, or a clause that expands upon the previous clause, so it is not correct punctuation to separate an introductory clause from the main clause. 

Example Question #419 : Comma Errors

[1] Some people are excited, some people are just annoyed. [2] Being called to jury duty can inspire a range of different emotions. [3] Unsure how long the trial will take, a call to jury duty can be stressful for people who can’t afford to miss work or school.

Some people will be making attempts to get out of jury duty. However, most will still need to serve. Fortunately, many cases are settled before going to trial and is not uncommon for trials to just last only one day. Either way, once you have served on a jury, you won’t have to do it again for a while!

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

Possible Answers:

excited: some

excited; some

NO CHANGE

excited some

excited if some

Correct answer:

excited; some

Explanation:

This question asks you to correct a comma splice, which is an error in which two complete sentences are joined with only a comma. A semicolon, which should be used to separate two complete but related sentences, is the best option to divide these sentences. 

Example Question #420 : Comma Errors

After the unbelievable fame of J.K. Rowling the author of the Harry Potter series hundreds of idealistic authors struggled to achieve similar success. Because of Rowling's legendary accomplishments, we have invited the author, herself to the book signing so that she can share her experience to anyone that wants to listen. Whether you're an amateur writer, expert author, or simply an eager fan, all kinds of people can benefit from her insight. After all, if a person wants to be successful, you have to be willing to listen to the advice of others. If anyone are interested in attending, please contact the office before the end of the month.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded portion of this passage. If the bolded portion is correct as written, please select NO CHANGE. 

Possible Answers:

amateur writer; expert author; or simply an eager fan,

NO CHANGE

amateur writer, expert author or simply an eager fan,

amateur writer, expert author, or simply an eager fan

amateur writer, expert author, or simply an eager fan;

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

When there is a list of more than 2 items, a comma comes between every item in the list (e.g. I like eating cake, pie, and brownies.). Second of all, because "amateur writer expert author, or simply an eager fan," is a dependent clause that comes before the independent clause, there must be a comma separating the two clauses. Therefore, there is a comma after the word "fan" as well. 

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors