ACT English : Comma Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #211 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

"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:

generally:

generally;

generally

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

generally

Explanation:

No punctuation is required after "generally," because the next clause that follows the conjunction, "or," is still considered part of the same thought.

Example Question #71 : Comma Errors

I love to cleaning. It’s a good way to unwind at the end of the day, and, I always function better in a clean environment. I once heard someone say, “You’re home is your temple.” I attempt to lived my life by that. My priorities are getting rid of clutter, sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, and cleaning the counter top in our kitchen. I mop the floor extremely, quickly. I don’t mop all that often, but my roommates appreciate it whenever I do!. 

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:

My priorities, are getting rid of clutter, sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, and cleaning the counter top in our kitchen.

NO CHANGE

My priorities are, getting rid of clutter, sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, and cleaning the counter top in our kitchen.

My priorities are getting rid of clutter, sweeping the floor, washing the dishes and cleaning the counter top in our kitchen.

My priorities are getting rid of clutter, sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, and cleaning the counter top, in our kitchen.

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

Commas are necessary here to separate the items in a list. Commas are only needed after the first three gerund phrases in the list, since the fourth gerund phrase is the last item in the list.

Example Question #71 : Comma Errors

Which of the following is NOT correct?

One way to reduce the weight of a bicycle is to purchase a carbon frame instead of an aluminum frame. Lighter bicycles are typically faster.

Possible Answers:

frame, lighter

frame; lighter

frame. Lighter

frame, and lighter

Correct answer:

frame, lighter

Explanation:

The two sentences are independent clauses. A comma alone cannot join two independent clauses. A period, semi-colon, or conjunction is needed.

Example Question #192 : Punctuation 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 lead guitarist who had a tattoo of a dragon on his back and the drummer who always wore cowboy boots were often seen fighting backstage during the band's ill-fated ten-year reunion tour.

Possible Answers:

The lead guitarist had a tattoo of a dragon on his back and the drummer always wore cowboy boots

The lead guitarist who had a tattoo of a dragon on his back and the drummer, who always wore cowboy boots,

NO CHANGE

The lead guitarist, who had a tattoo of a dragon on his back, and the drummer, who always wore cowboy boots,

The lead guitarist who had a tattoo of a dragon on his back, and the drummer who always wore cowboy boots

Correct answer:

The lead guitarist, who had a tattoo of a dragon on his back, and the drummer, who always wore cowboy boots,

Explanation:

The phrases "who had a tattoo of a dragon on his back" and "who always wore cowboy boots" should each be set apart from the main sentence by commas, since both phrases could be removed from the sentence without altering its meaning; they merely provide more detail about the lead guitarist and the drummer.

Example Question #193 : Punctuation Errors

Adapted from Looking Backward from 2000 to 1887  by Edward Bellamy (1889)

"Here we are at the store of our ward," said Edith, as we turned in at the great portal of one of the magnificent public buildings I had observed in my morning walk. There was nothing in the exterior aspect (1) of the edifice to suggest a store to a representative of the nineteenth century. There was no display of goods in the great windows, or any device to advertise wares, or attract custom (2). Nor was there any sort of sign or legend on the front of the building to indicate the character of the business carried on there; but instead, above the portal, standing out from the front of the building, a majestic life-size group of statuary (3), the central figure of which was a female ideal of Plenty, with her cornucopia. Judging from the composition of the throng (4) passing in and out, about the same proportion of the sexes among shoppers obtained (5) as in the nineteenth century. As we entered, Edith said that there was one of these great distributing establishments in each ward of the city, so that no residence was more than five or ten minutes (6) walk from one of them. It was the first interior of a twentieth-century public building that I had ever beheld, and the spectacle naturally impressed me deeply. I was in a vast hall full of light, received not alone from the windows on all sides, but from the dome, the point of which was a hundred feet above. Beneath it, in the centre of the hall, a magnificent fountain played, cooling the atmosphere to a delicious freshness with its spray. The walls and ceiling were frescoed in mellow tints, calculated to soften without absorbing the light which flooded the interior. Around the fountain was a space occupied with chairs and sofas, on which many persons were seated conversing. Legends (7) on the walls all about the hall indicated to what classes of commodities the counters below were devoted. Edith directed her steps towards one of these, where samples of muslin of a bewildering variety were displayed, and proceeded to inspect them.

"Where is the clerk?" I asked, for there was no one behind the counter, and no one seemed coming to attend (8) to the customer.

"I have no need of the clerk yet," said Edith (9) "I have not made my selection."

"It was the principal business of clerks to help people to make their selections in my day," I replied.

"What! To tell people what they wanted?"

"Yes (10) and oftener to induce them to buy what they didn't want."

"But did not (11) ladies find that very impertinent?" Edith asked, wonderingly (12). "What concern could it possibly be to the clerks whether people bought or not?"

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake using contemporary English preceding the number (12). If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

asked wonderingly

NO CHANGE

asked: wonderingly

asked; wonderingly

Correct answer:

asked wonderingly

Explanation:

While Bellamy was more likely to use a comma to set off the adverb "wonderingly," we would be more likely to use no punctuation here at all.

Example Question #72 : Comma Errors

Adapted from Looking Backward from 2000 to 1887  by Edward Bellamy (1889)

"Here we are at the store of our ward," said Edith, as we turned in at the great portal of one of the magnificent public buildings I had observed in my morning walk. There was nothing in the exterior aspect (1) of the edifice to suggest a store to a representative of the nineteenth century. There was no display of goods in the great windows, or any device to advertise wares, or attract custom (2). Nor was there any sort of sign or legend on the front of the building to indicate the character of the business carried on there; but instead, above the portal, standing out from the front of the building, a majestic life-size group of statuary (3), the central figure of which was a female ideal of Plenty, with her cornucopia. Judging from the composition of the throng (4) passing in and out, about the same proportion of the sexes among shoppers obtained (5) as in the nineteenth century. As we entered, Edith said that there was one of these great distributing establishments in each ward of the city, so that no residence was more than five or ten minutes (6) walk from one of them. It was the first interior of a twentieth-century public building that I had ever beheld, and the spectacle naturally impressed me deeply. I was in a vast hall full of light, received not alone from the windows on all sides, but from the dome, the point of which was a hundred feet above. Beneath it, in the centre of the hall, a magnificent fountain played, cooling the atmosphere to a delicious freshness with its spray. The walls and ceiling were frescoed in mellow tints, calculated to soften without absorbing the light which flooded the interior. Around the fountain was a space occupied with chairs and sofas, on which many persons were seated conversing. Legends (7) on the walls all about the hall indicated to what classes of commodities the counters below were devoted. Edith directed her steps towards one of these, where samples of muslin of a bewildering variety were displayed, and proceeded to inspect them.

"Where is the clerk?" I asked, for there was no one behind the counter, and no one seemed coming to attend (8) to the customer.

"I have no need of the clerk yet," said Edith (9) "I have not made my selection."

"It was the principal business of clerks to help people to make their selections in my day," I replied.

"What! To tell people what they wanted?"

"Yes (10) and oftener to induce them to buy what they didn't want."

"But did not (11) ladies find that very impertinent?" Edith asked, wonderingly (12). "What concern could it possibly be to the clerks whether people bought or not?"

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake using contemporary English preceding the number (10). If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

Yes,

NO CHANGE

Yes:

Yes;

Correct answer:

Yes,

Explanation:

While Bellamy himself used the semicolon in this context, in contemporary English we would be more likely to use a simple comma.

Example Question #71 : Comma Errors

Adapted from The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (ed. 1896)

Look at a plant in the midst of it’s range. Why does it not double or quadruple its numbers? We know that it can perfectly well withstand a little more heat or cold, dampness or dryness, for elsewhere it ranges into slightly hotter or colder, damper or drier districts. In this case, we can clearly see that if we wish in imagination to give the plant the power of increasing in number, we should have to give it some advantage over its competitors, or over the animals of the wild that prey on it. On the confines of its geographical range, a change of constitution with respect to climate would clearly be an advantage to our plant; but we have reason to believe that only a few plants or animals range so far, that they are destroyed exclusively by the rigor of the climate. Not until we reach the extreme confines of life, in the Arctic regions or on the borders of an utter desert, will competition cease. The land may be extremely cold or dry, yet their will be competition between some few species, or between the individuals of the same species, for the warmest or dampest spots.

Hence we can see that when a plant or animal is placed in a new country amongst new competitors, the conditions of its life will generally be changed in an essential manner, although the climate may be exactly the same as in its former home. If it’s average numbers are to increase in its new home, we should have to modify it in a different way to what we should have had to do in its native country; for we should have to give it some advantage over a different set of competitors or enemies.

It is good thus to try in imagination to give to any one species an advantage over another. Probably in no single instance should we know what to do. This ought to convince us of our ignorance on the mutual relations of all organic beings; a conviction as necessary, as it is difficult to acquire. All that we can do is to keep steadily in mind that each organic being is striving to increase in a geometrical ratio; that each at some period of its life, during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle for life and to suffer great destruction. When we reflect on this struggle, we may console ourselves with the full belief that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.

What is the best form of the boldfaced selection “life, during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle”?

Possible Answers:

life, during some season of the year; during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle

life (during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals) has to struggle

life, during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle

life, during some season of the year: during each generation or at intervals; has to struggle

Correct answer:

life (during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals) has to struggle

Explanation:

The entire expression, from "during" to "intervals," is a clarifying set of prepositions, placed in parallel. However, it is very awkward to have the subject of the main clause separated from its verb by the multiple comma-separated expressions. Thus, to make it easiest to see that the main clause states, "That each at some period of its life . . . has to struggle," it is best to set off the two "during" prepositions in a set of parentheses.

Example Question #561 : Act English

From an adaptation of a Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, On the Occasion of the Death of the Latter's Wife Abigail (1818)

The public papers my dear friend, have announced the fatal event of which your letter of October the 20th had given me ominous foreboding. Tried myself in the school of affliction, by the loss of every form of connection which can rive the human heart, I know well and feel what you have lost, what you have suffered, are suffering, and have yet to endure. The same trials have taught me that for ills so immeasurable, time and silence are the only medicine. I will not, therefore, by useless condolences, open afresh the sluices of your grief, nor, although mingling sincerely my tears with yours, will I say a word more where words are vain, but that it is of some comfort to us both, that the term is not very distant at which we are to deposit our sorrows and suffering bodies in the same soil and to ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved and lost, and whom we shall still love and never lose again. God bless you and support you under your heavy affliction.

Which of the following is the best form of the first sentence?

Possible Answers:

The public papers my dear friend, have announced the fatal event of which your letter of October the 20th had given me ominous foreboding.

The public papers my dear friend have announced the fatal event of which your letter, of October the 20th, had given me ominous foreboding.

The public papers my dear friend have announced the fatal event of which your letter of October the 20th had given me ominous foreboding.

The public papers, my dear friend, have announced the fatal event of which your letter of October the 20th had given me ominous foreboding.

Correct answer:

The public papers, my dear friend, have announced the fatal event of which your letter of October the 20th had given me ominous foreboding.

Explanation:

The option with the commas around the prepositional phrase "of October the 20th" is incorrect because these commas are superfluous. The other options all pertain to the commas being used around the direct address, "my dear friend." Jefferson is speaking directly to Adams at this point in the letter, as is indicated by his use of the second person to refer to Adam's "letter of October 20th." (He uses "your.") Nouns of direct address must be set off with commas.

Example Question #71 : Comma Errors

"Our Family Trip to Hawaii" by Jennifer Mings (2013)

Last summer, my mother, sister, brother, and me took a trip to Honolulu, Hawaii. We were excited to see everything, and couldn’t wait to arrive. After our lengthy plane ride, we stepped off of the plane in a daze. There was two flight attendants who immediately greeted us, putting flower wreaths around our necks. We then met up with our tour guide; and he told us that we would be going straight to Pearl Harbor.

On our way to Pearl Harbor, there was a largely immense amount of traffic, something that aggravated my mother. Luckily, the tour guide was a native of the island, and he was able to calm my mother down.

When we finally arrived at Pearl Harbor, there was many tourists and natives of different nationalities. The first thing we did when we arrived was watching a movie about the history of Pearl Harbor, which included the story of the USS Arizona. During the movie, everyone had been excited to see the USS Arizona Memorial and wanted to get on the boat. After, we all got on a boat and we were driven to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was an amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, and great experience for everyone.

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

Possible Answers:

We were excited to see everything; and couldn’t wait to arrive

We were excited to see everything…and couldn’t wait to arrive

We were excited to see everything and couldn’t wait to arrive

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

We were excited to see everything and couldn’t wait to arrive

Explanation:

The original has an extraneous comma. Commas are only used in concordance with a conjunction when it is separating two independent clauses.

Example Question #72 : Comma Errors

"Our Family Trip to Hawaii" by Jennifer Mings (2013)

Last summer, my mother, sister, brother, and me took a trip to Honolulu, Hawaii. We were excited to see everything, and couldn’t wait to arrive. After our lengthy plane ride, we stepped off of the plane in a daze. There was two flight attendants who immediately greeted us, putting flower wreaths around our necks. We then met up with our tour guide; and he told us that we would be going straight to Pearl Harbor.

On our way to Pearl Harbor, there was a largely immense amount of traffic, something that aggravated my mother. Luckily, the tour guide was a native of the island, and he was able to calm my mother down.

When we finally arrived at Pearl Harbor, there was many tourists and natives of different nationalities. The first thing we did when we arrived was watching a movie about the history of Pearl Harbor, which included the story of the USS Arizona. During the movie, everyone had been excited to see the USS Arizona Memorial and wanted to get on the boat. After, we all got on a boat and we were driven to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was an amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, and great experience for everyone.

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

Possible Answers:

We then met up with our tour guide, and

We then met up with our tour guide and

NO CHANGE

We, then, met up with our tour guide, and

Correct answer:

We then met up with our tour guide, and

Explanation:

The original has an incorrect usage of a semicolon; these must only be used when talking about two separate ideas. The other two options either have an absence of a comma or use extraneous commas.

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