ACT English : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Punctuation Errors

Adapted from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1784)

At the time I established myself in Pennsylvania there was not a good booksellers shop in any of the colonies to the southward of Boston. In New York and Philadelphia the printers were indeed stationers; they sold only paper, etc., almanacs, ballads, and a few common school-books. Those who loved reading were obliged to send for their books from England; the members of the Junto had each a few. We had left the ale-house, where we first met, and hired a room to hold our club in. I proposed that we should all of us bring our books to that room, where they would not only be ready to consult in our conferences but become a common benefit, each of us being at liberty to borrow such as he wished to read at home. This was accordingly done, and for some time contented us.

Finding the advantage of this little collection, I proposed to render the benefit from books more common by commencing a public subscription library. I drew a sketch of the plan and rules that would be necessary, and got a skillful conveyancer, Mr. Charles Brockden, to put the whole in form of articles of agreement, to be subscribed, by which each subscriber engaged to pay a certain sum down for the first purchase of books, and an annual contribution for increasing them. So few were the readers at that time in Philadelphia, and the majority of us so poor, that I was not able, with great industry to find more than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down for this purpose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum. On this little fund we began. The books were imported; the library was opened one day in the week for lending to the subscribers, on their promissory notes to pay double the value if not duly returned. The institution soon manifested its utility, was imitated by other towns and in other provinces. The libraries were augmented by donations; reading became fashionable; and our people, having no public amusements to divert their attention from study, became better acquainted with books, and in a few years were observed by strangers to be better instructed and more intelligent than people of the same rank generally are in other countries.

Which is the best form of the underlined section?

Possible Answers:

Pennsylvania, there

Pennsylvania: there

NO CHANGE

Pennsylvania; there

Correct answer:

Pennsylvania, there

Explanation:

The phrase that ends in "Pennsylvania" would be considered by a contemporary reader as an introductory phrase, and thus a comma should follow it.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Adapted from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1784)

At the time I established myself in Pennsylvania there was not a good booksellers shop in any of the colonies to the southward of Boston. In New York and Philadelphia the printers were indeed stationers; they sold only paper, etc., almanacs, ballads, and a few common school-books. Those who loved reading were obliged to send for their books from England; the members of the Junto had each a few. We had left the ale-house, where we first met, and hired a room to hold our club in. I proposed that we should all of us bring our books to that room, where they would not only be ready to consult in our conferences but become a common benefit, each of us being at liberty to borrow such as he wished to read at home. This was accordingly done, and for some time contented us.

Finding the advantage of this little collection, I proposed to render the benefit from books more common by commencing a public subscription library. I drew a sketch of the plan and rules that would be necessary, and got a skillful conveyancer, Mr. Charles Brockden, to put the whole in form of articles of agreement, to be subscribed, by which each subscriber engaged to pay a certain sum down for the first purchase of books, and an annual contribution for increasing them. So few were the readers at that time in Philadelphia, and the majority of us so poor, that I was not able, with great industry to find more than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down for this purpose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum. On this little fund we began. The books were imported; the library was opened one day in the week for lending to the subscribers, on their promissory notes to pay double the value if not duly returned. The institution soon manifested its utility, was imitated by other towns and in other provinces. The libraries were augmented by donations; reading became fashionable; and our people, having no public amusements to divert their attention from study, became better acquainted with books, and in a few years were observed by strangers to be better instructed and more intelligent than people of the same rank generally are in other countries.

Which is the best form of the underlined section?

Possible Answers:

conferences; but

NO CHANGE

conferences: but

conferences, but

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

Although "but" is being used as a contraction here, it is not followed by a complete sentence and thus would not need to be preceded by a comma.

Example Question #1 : Act English

Jimmy is annoyed at the video game that he was playing. For one thing, there was not nearly enough interesting characters suspenseful moments or exciting escapes in the game to satisfy him. For another, it was incredibly hard while playing the game to control the cars. It always wanted to veer to the left when he tried to steer to the right. But the ending of the game was worst. By the time he got to the end,  the hero had decided to stop chasing rogue spies and therefore marry his girlfriend, a surprise attack resulted in her being kidnapped, and the hero must go on a final mission to save her before the game can be completed. That would of been fine, except it involved tracking the enemy using a helicopter, and Jimmy much to his chagrin never mastered flying the helicopter.

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:

interesting characters suspenseful moments plot twists, or exciting escapes

interesting characters, suspenseful moments, or exciting escapes

interesting characters, suspenseful moments, or exciting escapes,

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

interesting characters, suspenseful moments, or exciting escapes

Explanation:

Commas are needed to separate each of the items in a list. While some outmoded grammar guides suggest omitting the comma before "and" or "or" in a series of three objects, the more common practice is to include it, so the phrase should read "suspenseful moments, plot twists, or exciting escapes." This particular comma is called the Oxford comma, and is used to avoid ambiguity in certain sentences.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Jimmy is annoyed at the video game that he was playing. For one thing, there was not nearly enough suspenseful moments plot twists or exciting escapes in the game to satisfy him. For another, it was incredibly hard while playing the game to control the cars. It always wanted to veer to the left when he tried to steer to the right. But the ending of the game was worst. By the time he got to the end, the hero had decided to stop chasing rogue spies and therefore marry his girlfriend, a surprise attack resulted in her being kidnapped, and the hero must go on a final mission to save her before the game can be completed. That would of been fine, except it involved tracking the enemy using a helicopter, and Jimmy much to his chagrin never mastered flying the helicopter.

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:

Jimmy, much to his chagrin, never mastered

NO CHANGE

Jimmy much to his chagrin, never mastered

Jimmy, much to his chagrin never mastered

Correct answer:

Jimmy, much to his chagrin, never mastered

Explanation:

The phrase "much to his chagrin" is extra information in the sentence and can be taken out without affecting the sentence's meaning, so it should be set off by commas.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Adapted from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1784)

At the time I established myself in Pennsylvania there was not a good booksellers shop in any of the colonies to the southward of Boston. In New York and Philadelphia the printers were indeed stationers; they sold only paper, etc., almanacs, ballads, and a few common school-books. Those who loved reading were obliged to send for their books from England; the members of the Junto had each a few. We had left the ale-house, where we first met, and hired a room to hold our club in. I proposed that we should all of us bring our books to that room, where they would not only be ready to consult in our conferences but become a common benefit, each of us being at liberty to borrow such as he wished to read at home. This was accordingly done, and for some time contented us.

Finding the advantage of this little collection, I proposed to render the benefit from books more common by commencing a public subscription library. I drew a sketch of the plan and rules that would be necessary, and got a skillful conveyancer, Mr. Charles Brockden, to put the whole in form of articles of agreement, to be subscribed, by which each subscriber engaged to pay a certain sum down for the first purchase of books, and an annual contribution for increasing them. So few were the readers at that time in Philadelphia, and the majority of us so poor, that I was not able, with great industry to find more than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down for this purpose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum. On this little fund we began. The books were imported; the library was opened one day in the week for lending to the subscribers, on their promissory notes to pay double the value if not duly returned. The institution soon manifested its utility, was imitated by other towns and in other provinces. The libraries were augmented by donations; reading became fashionable; and our people, having no public amusements to divert their attention from study, became better acquainted with books, and in a few years were observed by strangers to be better instructed and more intelligent than people of the same rank generally are in other countries.

Which is the best form of the underlined section?

Possible Answers:

able with

NO CHANGE

able; with

able, or with

Correct answer:

able with

Explanation:

There would be no need for a comma in this context since Franklin is using "with great industry" as an adjectival clause to describe his inability to find subscribers for the library.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Adapted from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1784)

At the time I established myself in Pennsylvania there was not a good booksellers shop in any of the colonies to the southward of Boston. In New York and Philadelphia the printers were indeed stationers; they sold only paper, etc., almanacs, ballads, and a few common school-books. Those who loved reading were obliged to send for their books from England; the members of the Junto had each a few. We had left the ale-house, where we first met, and hired a room to hold our club in. I proposed that we should all of us bring our books to that room, where they would not only be ready to consult in our conferences but become a common benefit, each of us being at liberty to borrow such as he wished to read at home. This was accordingly done, and for some time contented us.

Finding the advantage of this little collection, I proposed to render the benefit from books more common by commencing a public subscription library. I drew a sketch of the plan and rules that would be necessary, and got a skillful conveyancer, Mr. Charles Brockden, to put the whole in form of articles of agreement, to be subscribed, by which each subscriber engaged to pay a certain sum down for the first purchase of books, and an annual contribution for increasing them. So few were the readers at that time in Philadelphia, and the majority of us so poor, that I was not able, with great industry to find more than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down for this purpose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum. On this little fund we began. The books were imported; the library was opened one day in the week for lending to the subscribers, on their promissory notes to pay double the value if not duly returned. The institution soon manifested its utility, was imitated by other towns and in other provinces. The libraries were augmented by donations; reading became fashionable; and our people, having no public amusements to divert their attention from study, became better acquainted with books, and in a few years were observed by strangers to be better instructed and more intelligent than people of the same rank generally are in other countries.

Which is the best form of the underlined section?

Possible Answers:

bookseller's shop

booksellers' shop

NO CHANGE

book sellers shop

Correct answer:

bookseller's shop

Explanation:

The word "bookseller" is singular, so an apostrophe and an "s" should be used to show possession instead of just an "s," which indicates the plural form.

Example Question #1 : Other Usage Errors

The teacher had several questions for her students when they returned from the museum. Who did they talk to? What did they see?  

 “We talked to whoever would answer our questions,” replied Jake with the red hair (as opposed to Jake who sat behind him with the brown hair). “Our questions were answered by one woman most of the time.”

"But who was that woman?" the teacher asked.

"We never got her name," Jake with the brown hair said.  "At the time, we didn't think her name was important." 

Upon hearing this, Hugh was getting annoyed. "Her name wasn't 'Important,'" said Hugh, "it was Ingrid." 

"Oh," Jake with the brown hair said. "I knew it started with an 'I.'"

"We saw several paintings by some guy named Renoir," Jake with the red hair said. 

"What were these?" Jake with the brown hair asked.

"They were the bigger of the three by the door," Jake with the brown hair replied.

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

Possible Answers:

as opposed to the Jake with brown hair who sat behind him

as opposed to Jake who sat behind him

as opposed to Jake with the brown hair who sat behind him

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

as opposed to Jake with the brown hair who sat behind him

Explanation:

The phrases "with the brown hair" and "who sat behind him" are both functioning as adjectival prepositional phrases here, but they must be placed in the most logical order - "Jake with the brown hair" functions as one grammatical idea, and "who sat behind him" in turn modifies it.

Example Question #2 : Other Usage Errors

The teacher had several questions for her students when they returned from the museum. Who did they talk to? What did they see?  

 “We talked to whoever would answer our questions,” replied Jake with the red hair (as opposed to Jake who sat behind him with the brown hair). “Our questions were answered by one woman most of the time.”

"But who was that woman?" the teacher asked.

"We never got her name," Jake with the brown hair said.  "At the time, we didn't think her name was important." 

Upon hearing this, Hugh was getting annoyed. "Her name wasn't 'Important,'" said Hugh, "it was Ingrid." 

"Oh," Jake with the brown hair said. "I knew it started with an 'I.'"

"We saw several paintings by some guy named Renoir," Jake with the red hair said. 

"What were these?" Jake with the brown hair asked.

"They were the bigger of the three by the door," Jake with the brown hair replied.

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

Possible Answers:

At that time

In that time

In the time

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

The phrase "at the time" is the most logical prepositional phrase to use here.

Example Question #711 : Improving Sentences

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The girls were always challenging their father's rules for every opportunity.

Possible Answers:

their father's rules on every opportunity.

their father's rules at every opportunity.

their father's rules in every opportunity.

their father's rules onto every opportunity.

their father's rules for every opportunity.

Correct answer:

their father's rules at every opportunity.

Explanation:

The use of the preposition "for" in the sentence is odd, and does not properly reflect what the girls are doing. The preposition should be changed to indicate that they challenged during certain moments. The preposition that best shows this is "at," making the correct answer choice "their father's rules at every opportunity."

Example Question #1 : Word Usage Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

While I really enjoy studying the French language, I would also like to try and learn some Portuguese as well.

Possible Answers:

I would also like to try to learn some Portuguese as well.

I would also like to try and learn some Portuguese.

I would also like to try to learn some Portuguese.

I would also like to try and learn some Portuguese as well.

I would also like to try learning some Portuguese.

Correct answer:

I would also like to try to learn some Portuguese.

Explanation:

Only the preposition “to” can follow the verb “to try.” It isn’t necessary to include the “as well” because “also” means the same thing; the original phrasing is redundant. 

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