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 #81 : 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:

Luckily the tour guide was a native of the island and he was able to calm my mother down.

Luckily, the tour guide was a native of the island and he was able to calm my mother down.

NO CHANGE

Luckily, the tour guide was a native of the island; and he was able to calm my mother down.

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

The original is correct because all of the commas that are in place are used correctly.

Example Question #82 : Comma Errors

My childhood was fairly idyllic. I grew up in southern suburbia, we could play outside nearly year round. We almost played outside every day. Our days were filled with bike rides, jumping on the trampoline, playing in the sprinklers, and also imagination games. Countless afternoons were spent in the side yard of our home, where our imaginations were the limit to our fun. One of our favorite games was “Lost Children.” Oddly enough, the parents in the game were always deceased or fighting in a foreign war. The source of this game likely stemmed from the books we read.

My mother’s old, rusty, orange wheelbarrow was perpetually propped up against the fence, to serve as the base for our makeshift range. The metal braces beneath the wheelbarrow bin provided the perfect resting place for a pair of burners, hastily sketched on a flat board. Old paint buckets became a sink and a stained picnic table was scrubbed to a relative state of cleanliness. Our visitors, who were often kings and queens, were served heaping helpings of mud and grass pie, possibly adorned with a side helping of flowers. Household chores were far more fun to do in our imaginary world, and we would eagerly sweep and dust our humble home. Even covered in leaves, we loved our outdoor kitchen.  

Other days, we would scamper around the neighborhood park, sometimes venturing into the woods to go exploring. One time we borrowed my little sister’s wagon and flew down the sides of the ditch. Although we had a grand time my mother was not pleased when she had to replace the broken axle. On adventurous days, we would pretend to be statues on the entrance sign to our neighborhood. But, the most perfect afternoons were spent biking up to the local corner store. With spending money burning a hole in our pockets, we would peruse the convenience store shelves, and after carefully picking our selections, we would pedal home. Our plastic shopping bags hung from the handlebars, rustling in the wind.

The bite of crisp fall evenings would barely phase our childlike fantasies. But, to our dismay, twilight would inevitably seep into our childhood world. Mother would call us in for dinner and a bath, if needed. Tired, beds were welcomed. I would often fall asleep to the gentle rhythm of my mother’s voice.

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:

I grew up, in southern suburbia,

I grew up in southern suburbia, so

NO CHANGE

Having grown up in southern suburbia,

Correct answer:

I grew up in southern suburbia, so

Explanation:

"I grew up in southern suburbia, so" is the most concise way listed to remove the comma splice. A comma splice is when two sentences are separated with a comma. In this case, the coordination conjunction “so” was added after the comma to connect the two sentences.

Example Question #81 : Comma Errors

My childhood was fairly idyllic. I grew up in southern suburbia, we could play outside nearly year round. We almost played outside every day. Our days were filled with bike rides, jumping on the trampoline, playing in the sprinklers, and also imagination games. Countless afternoons were spent in the side yard of our home, where our imaginations were the limit to our fun. One of our favorite games was “Lost Children.” Oddly enough, the parents in the game were always deceased or fighting in a foreign war. The source of this game likely stemmed from the books we read.

My mother’s old, rusty, orange wheelbarrow was perpetually propped up against the fence, to serve as the base for our makeshift range. The metal braces beneath the wheelbarrow bin provided the perfect resting place for a pair of burners, hastily sketched on a flat board. Old paint buckets became a sink and a stained picnic table was scrubbed to a relative state of cleanliness. Our visitors, who were often kings and queens, were served heaping helpings of mud and grass pie, possibly adorned with a side helping of flowers. Household chores were far more fun to do in our imaginary world, and we would eagerly sweep and dust our humble home. Even covered in leaves, we loved our outdoor kitchen.

Other days, we would scamper around the neighborhood park, sometimes venturing into the woods to go exploring. One time we borrowed my little sister’s wagon and flew down the sides of the ditch. Although we had a grand time my mother was not pleased when she had to replace the broken axle. On adventurous days, we would pretend to be statues on the entrance sign to our neighborhood. But, the most perfect afternoons were spent biking up to the local corner store. With spending money burning a hole in our pockets, we would peruse the convenience store shelves, and after carefully picking our selections, we would pedal home. Our plastic shopping bags hung from the handlebars, rustling in the wind.

The bite of crisp fall evenings would barely phase our childlike fantasies. But, to our dismay, twilight would inevitably seep into our childhood world. Mother would call us in for dinner and a bath, if needed. Tired, beds were welcomed. I would often fall asleep to the gentle rhythm of my mother’s voice.

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:

Even covered in leaves, our outdoor kitchen we loved.

NO CHANGE

Even covered in leaves, our outdoor kitchen was an ideal setting.

Covered in leaves, our outdoor kitchen we loved.

Correct answer:

Even covered in leaves, our outdoor kitchen was an ideal setting.

Explanation:

"Even covered in leaves, our outdoor kitchen was an ideal setting" is the best choice and the correct way to use a comma with a modifier. The modifier “even covered in leaves” is applied to the outdoor kitchen. If you have a short phrase followed by a comma, whatever the phrase refers to should directly follow the comma. Right now, the sentence suggests the children are covered in leaves.

Example Question #82 : Comma Errors

My childhood was fairly idyllic. I grew up in southern suburbia, we could play outside nearly year round. We almost played outside every day. Our days were filled with bike rides, jumping on the trampoline, playing in the sprinklers, and also imagination games. Countless afternoons were spent in the side yard of our home, where our imaginations were the limit to our fun. One of our favorite games was “Lost Children.” Oddly enough, the parents in the game were always deceased or fighting in a foreign war. The source of this game likely stemmed from the books we read.

My mother’s old, rusty, orange wheelbarrow was perpetually propped up against the fence, to serve as the base for our makeshift range. The metal braces beneath the wheelbarrow bin provided the perfect resting place for a pair of burners, hastily sketched on a flat board. Old paint buckets became a sink and a stained picnic table was scrubbed to a relative state of cleanliness. Our visitors, who were often kings and queens, were served heaping helpings of mud and grass pie, possibly adorned with a side helping of flowers. Household chores were far more fun to do in our imaginary world, and we would eagerly sweep and dust our humble home. Even covered in leaves, we loved our outdoor kitchen.  

Other days, we would scamper around the neighborhood park, sometimes venturing into the woods to go exploring. One time we borrowed my little sister’s wagon and flew down the sides of the ditch. Although we had a grand time my mother was not pleased when she had to replace the broken axle. On adventurous days, we would pretend to be statues on the entrance sign to our neighborhood. But, the most perfect afternoons were spent biking up to the local corner store. With spending money burning a hole in our pockets, we would peruse the convenience store shelves, and after carefully picking our selections, we would pedal home. Our plastic shopping bags hung from the handlebars, rustling in the wind.

The bite of crisp fall evenings would barely phase our childlike fantasies. But, to our dismay, twilight would inevitably seep into our childhood world. Mother would call us in for dinner and a bath, if needed. Tired, beds were welcomed. I would often fall asleep to the gentle rhythm of my mother’s voice.

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:

Although, we had a grand time,

NO CHANGE

Although we had a grand time,

Even though we had a grand time

Correct answer:

Although we had a grand time,

Explanation:

“Although we had a grand time” is the best choice because it is a dependent, or subordinate, clause and needs a comma after it.

Example Question #85 : Comma Errors

My childhood was fairly idyllic. I grew up in southern suburbia, we could play outside nearly year round. We almost played outside every day. Our days were filled with bike rides, jumping on the trampoline, playing in the sprinklers, and also imagination games. Countless afternoons were spent in the side yard of our home, where our imaginations were the limit to our fun. One of our favorite games was “Lost Children.” Oddly enough, the parents in the game were always deceased or fighting in a foreign war. The source of this game likely stemmed from the books we read.

My mother’s old, rusty, orange wheelbarrow was perpetually propped up against the fence, to serve as the base for our makeshift range. The metal braces beneath the wheelbarrow bin provided the perfect resting place for a pair of burners, hastily sketched on a flat board. Old paint buckets became a sink and a stained picnic table was scrubbed to a relative state of cleanliness. Our visitors, who were often kings and queens, were served heaping helpings of mud and grass pie, possibly adorned with a side helping of flowers. Household chores were far more fun to do in our imaginary world, and we would eagerly sweep and dust our humble home. Even covered in leaves, we loved our outdoor kitchen.  

Other days, we would scamper around the neighborhood park, sometimes venturing into the woods to go exploring. One time we borrowed my little sister’s wagon and flew down the sides of the ditch. Although we had a grand time my mother was not pleased when she had to replace the broken axle. On adventurous days, we would pretend to be statues on the entrance sign to our neighborhood. But, the most perfect afternoons were spent biking up to the local corner store. With spending money burning a hole in our pockets, we would peruse the convenience store shelves, and after carefully picking our selections, we would pedal home. Our plastic shopping bags hung from the handlebars, rustling in the wind.

The bite of crisp fall evenings would barely phase our childlike fantasies. But, to our dismay, twilight would inevitably seep into our childhood world. Mother would call us in for dinner and a bath, if needed. Tired, beds were welcomed. I would often fall asleep to the gentle rhythm of my mother’s voice.

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:

and, after carefully picking our selections,

after carefully picking our selections,

NO CHANGE

and, after carefully picking our selections

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

"NO CHANGE" is the best choice because if a parenthetical element follows a coordinating conjunction that connects two independent clauses, we do not use a comma. In this case, “after carefully our selections” follows the conjunction “and” and does not need a comma.

Example Question #201 : Punctuation Errors

"Lincoln as a Child" by Caleb Zimmerman (2013)

 Abraham Lincoln's forefathers were pioneers. People that left their homes to open up the wilderness and make the way clear for others to follow them. For one hundred and seventy years, ever since the first Lincoln came from England to Massachusetts in 1638, he had been moving slowly westward as new settlements were made in the forest. They faced solitude, privation, and all the dangers and hardships that beset those who take up their homes where only beasts and wild men have had homes before; but they continued to press steadily forward, though they lost fortune and sometimes even life itself in their westward progress.

Back in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, some of the Lincolns had been people of wealth and influence. In Kentucky, where the future President was born on February 12, 1809, his parents live in deep poverty. Their home was a small log cabin of the rudest kind, and nothing seemed more unlikely than that their child, coming into the world in such humble surroundings, was destined to be the greatest man of his time and true to his heritage, he also was to be a pioneer—not into new woods and unexplored fields like his ancestors, but a pioneer of a nobler and grander sort, directing the thoughts of people ever toward the right, and leading the American people, through difficulties and dangers and a mighty war, to peace and freedom.

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:

privation and all the other dangers

NO CHANGE

privation, plus a wide array of additional dangers

privation as well as all of the other dangers

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

"privation as well as all of the other dangers" and "privation, plus a wide array of additional dangers" are incorrect because they are not as concise as "NO CHANGE" (i.e., answer "NO CHANGE" conveys the same meaning with fewer words). "privation and all the other dangers" is incorrect because it lacks a comma after “privation,” which serves here as the second item in a list.

Example Question #82 : Comma Errors

"Lincoln as a Child" by Caleb Zimmerman (2013)

 Abraham Lincoln's forefathers were pioneers. People that left their homes to open up the wilderness and make the way clear for others to follow them. For one hundred and seventy years, ever since the first Lincoln came from England to Massachusetts in 1638, he had been moving slowly westward as new settlements were made in the forest. They faced solitude, privation, and all the dangers and hardships that beset those who take up their homes where only beasts and wild men have had homes before; but they continued to press steadily forward, though they lost fortune and sometimes even life itself in their westward progress.

Back in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, some of the Lincolns had been people of wealth and influence. In Kentucky, where the future President was born on February 12, 1809, his parents live in deep poverty. Their home was a small log cabin of the rudest kind, and nothing seemed more unlikely than that their child, coming into the world in such humble surroundings, was destined to be the greatest man of his time and true to his heritage, he also was to be a pioneer—not into new woods and unexplored fields like his ancestors, but a pioneer of a nobler and grander sort, directing the thoughts of people ever toward the right, and leading the American people, through difficulties and dangers and a mighty war, to peace and freedom.

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:

American people through

Americans up into

NO CHANGE

Americans, through

Correct answer:

American people through

Explanation:

"American people through" is the simplest, most concise option. "NO CHANGE" and "Americans, through" have a misplaced comma. The comma introduces a pause between a direct object and prepositional phrase, which is rarely necessary. Answer "Americans up into" uses inaccurate and redundant prepositions (a single preposition would suffice).

Example Question #83 : Comma Errors

While the course appeared hard from the outset, when his report card arrived in the mail, Charlie had discovered that all of his studying had paid off. He had successfully passed Chemistry: his father would be proud. His father, a world-renowned chemist was doubtful that Charlie would pass the class but Charlie was sure that he could do it. He had spent all of the fall semester studying the periodic table, memorizing different measurements and learning the parts of an atom.

That terrible semester culminated in the final exam. The day of the big test, his stomach is a tight knot of nerves. He tried to tell his mother that he was feeling ill but she knew that he was lying.1 He shook as he tried to put on his shoes and socks.He woke up with his fingers tightly gripping the bedspread.3 Sitting on the bus, he could feel himself sweating through his light sweater.4 When Charlie finally arrived at school, he walked into his Chemistry class just as his teacher was passing out the test. “You may now begin,” she said.

With the report card now clenched in his hands in victory, Charlie knew that he could tackle anything to which he put his mind.

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:

chemist;

chemist – was

chemist, was

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

chemist, was

Explanation:

The commas in this sentence are used to mark a parenthetical phrase describing Charlie’s father. The first comma is present but you must include a second one after “chemist” to close the parenthetical phrase.

Example Question #202 : Punctuation Errors

"A Unique Journey" by Jasmine Tilley (2013)

While I was studying abroad in Europe, I had the great opportunity to travel to different countries. For one of my adventures, I chose to travel to Switzerland; however, the classmates I usually traveled with were unable to come with me. I was faced in deciding whether to go alone or not at all. This decision was easy for me, I was not going to pass up the opportunity to see Switzerland!

I first had to board a train from where I was staying in Italy to reach the southern part of Switzerland. Unfortunately, the train workers were on strike that day, so I ended up delayed in Milan for several hours. Soon enough I was on my way again.  However, shortly after I reached the Switzerland border, the train stopped because one of the cars was filled with smoke! I still have no idea what happened, but after a few minutes we were moving again.

Once I finally reached Geneva, I had to walk to find the hostel where I was staying that I had booked. It was night, and I realized that I was truly alone. I did not know another soul in this entire country! This thought was both scary and exciting.

The next day, I walked all around Geneva. Being my own tour guide was a fantastic adventure. I saw all the major sites while also experiencing the culture. There was some sort of marathon going on that day, and there was so much excitement all throughout the city. There were live bands. It even rained off and on. Everything was new and interesting, and I loved it.

That evening, I boarded a train to Zermatt. Prior to this journey, I had no idea that the Matterhorn was an actual mountain! The city of Zermatt was very tiny and had no cars, only small electric vehicles that resembled wind-up toys. The whole city was lit up, and though I was walking to my hostel at night again, I felt very safe. Walking through Geneva at night, though, starkly contrasted it.

The next day, I decided to go skiing on the beautiful, snowy mountains in Zermatt. I rented a pair of skis and spent a few hours skiing in my jeans and coat! It was an amazing experience.

My journey to Switzerland is dear to me not just because of the many beautiful and exciting things I experienced, but also because I was alone. I had the time as well as the quiet atmosphere to absorb and contemplate not just what was going on around me but also what was going on inside myself. I felt changed somehow. I felt stronger and more independent.

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:

NO CHANGE

Switzerland, however;

Switzerland; however

Switzerland, however

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

In the original sentence, the phrase before the semicolon and the phrase after the semicolon are each already independent clauses. When we use a transitional word like ‘however’ after a semicolon, a comma is always needed.

Example Question #81 : Comma Errors

"A Unique Journey" by Jasmine Tilley (2013)

While I was studying abroad in Europe, I had the great opportunity to travel to different countries. For one of my adventures, I chose to travel to Switzerland; however, the classmates I usually traveled with were unable to come with me. I was faced in deciding whether to go alone or not at all. This decision was easy for me, I was not going to pass up the opportunity to see Switzerland!

I first had to board a train from where I was staying in Italy to reach the southern part of Switzerland. Unfortunately, the train workers were on strike that day, so I ended up delayed in Milan for several hours. Soon enough I was on my way again.  However, shortly after I reached the Switzerland border, the train stopped because one of the cars was filled with smoke! I still have no idea what happened, but after a few minutes we were moving again.

Once I finally reached Geneva, I had to walk to find the hostel where I was staying that I had booked. It was night, and I realized that I was truly alone. I did not know another soul in this entire country! This thought was both scary and exciting.

The next day, I walked all around Geneva. Being my own tour guide was a fantastic adventure. I saw all the major sites while also experiencing the culture. There was some sort of marathon going on that day, and there was so much excitement all throughout the city. There were live bands. It even rained off and on. Everything was new and interesting, and I loved it.

That evening, I boarded a train to Zermatt. Prior to this journey, I had no idea that the Matterhorn was an actual mountain! The city of Zermatt was very tiny and had no cars, only small electric vehicles that resembled wind-up toys. The whole city was lit up, and though I was walking to my hostel at night again, I felt very safe. Walking through Geneva at night, though, starkly contrasted it.

The next day, I decided to go skiing on the beautiful, snowy mountains in Zermatt. I rented a pair of skis and spent a few hours skiing in my jeans and coat! It was an amazing experience.

My journey to Switzerland is dear to me not just because of the many beautiful and exciting things I experienced, but also because I was alone. I had the time as well as the quiet atmosphere to absorb and contemplate not just what was going on around me but also what was going on inside myself. I felt changed somehow. I felt stronger and more independent.

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:

Unfortunately the train workers were on strike that day

Unfortunately the train workers were on strike that day,

Unfortunately, the train workers were on strike that day

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

When we begin a sentence with an adverb, we must place a comma after it. Because the phrase after the underlined portion is a complete sentence, we must also place a comma in between.

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors