ACT English : Conjunction Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Conjunction Errors

"The Election of 1800" by Alec Slatky (2013)

The presidential election of 1800 was an unusual and unique contest in American history. The opponents were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson former friends who became rivals. Jefferson had actually been Vice President under Adams, but had not supported the latter’s policies. Jefferson leapt at the chance to unseat his former boss. Adams, too, would have enjoyed spending time on his farm more than dealing with political acrimony. Accordingly, he was too prideful to willingly relinquish his office. So, the two men who were most qualified for the position but least excited to have such a stressful job became the presidential candidates.

The campaign was a bitter partisan one and included numerous personal attacks. Critics called Jefferson a Democratic-Republican radical, he would lead the country down the bloody path of the French Revolution. Jefferson’s allies fired back, painting Adams as an anti-liberty autocrat. Adams was from Massachusetts. Adams even faced opposition from some extremists among his fellow Federalists and thus lacked the party unity required to win the election.

In the end, Jefferson emerged victorious, winning 73 of the 138 electoral votes. Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated as President, and Aaron Burr was inaugurated as Vice President. The election was a milestone in American history: it was the first that shifted control of the White House to a different party, the first with a modern mudslinging campaign, and the first that truly tested whether the new nation would remain united despite all its divisions.

Which of the following alternatives to the bolded section would be LEAST acceptable?

Possible Answers:

nevertheless

consequently

as a result

therefore

Correct answer:

nevertheless

Explanation:

"Nevertheless" is correct because the other three all indicate that Adams lacked party unity BECAUSE he faced opposition from fellow Federalists. The word “fellow” indicates that the opposition came from his own party; "nevertheless" indicates that Adams lacked party unity DESPITE the opposition he faced from his own party, which does not make sense.

Example Question #12 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

As the class entered the museum, Ms. Johnson noticed that two of her students had fallen behind the group. After all of the tickets had been secured, she approached the two girls, saying: “what on Earth is causing you to go so slow?” The taller girl, whose name was Ashley, was the first to respond:

“Veronica and I were just discussing something very private. Nobody can hear what her and I are discussing.”

“Well, Ashley, I think that our tour guide, Dr. Mitchell, will be offended by your behavior. You and Veronica should find separate places in the group and you should pay attention to him and me.”

The two girls reluctantly joined the rest of the class. Ms. Johnson looked to see if another student was out of their place, but everything seemed to be in order. The tour guide, Dr. Mitchell, introduced himself to the class: 

“Hello everyone! My name is Dr. Mitchell. I’m so glad that you have all come to the Museum of Natural History today; I think you’ll really enjoy our exhibits, which have been curated with the utmost care. The museum has three distinct types of exhibitions. Permanent exhibitions, temporary exhibitions, and space shows. The permanent exhibition and the space show is always available for viewing, but the temporary exhibition changes seasonally.“

Having finished his introduction, the permanent exhibition was the first thing that Dr. Mitchell showed to the class.

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

find separate places in the group, and you should

find separate places in the group; and you should

find separate places in the group. And you should

Correct answer:

find separate places in the group, and you should

Explanation:

Because the two clauses joined by the correlative or coordinating conjunction "and" are independent clauses, there must be a comma before the conjunction. Because both clauses have a subject and an object and could function independently as sentences, a comma is necessary before a coordinating conjunction.

Example Question #13 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

Adapted from “Emerson’s Prose Works” in The Works of Orestes A. Brownson: Philosophy of Religion by Orestes Brownson (ed. 1883)

Mr. Emersons literary reputation is established and placed beyond the reach of criticism. No living writer surpasses him in his mastery of pure and classic English; nor do any equal himneither in the exquisite delicacy and finish of his chiseled sentences, or in the metallic ring of his style. It is only as a thinker and teacher that we can venture any inquiry into his merits; and as such we cannot suffer ourselves to be imposed upon by his oracular manner, nor by the apparent originality either of his views or his expressions.

Mr. Emerson has had a swarm both of admirers but also of detractors. With many, he is a philosopher and sage, almost a god; while with others, he is regarded as an unintelligible mystic, babbling nonsense fitted to captivate beardless young men and silly maidens with pretty curls, all of who constituted years ago the great body of his hearers and worshipers. We rank us in neither class, though we regard he as no ordinary man. Indeed, we believe he to be one of the deepest thinkers as well as one of the first poets of our country. Indeed, by long acquaintance have him and us been in mutual contact—if only from a distance at times. We know him to be a polished gentleman, a genial companion, and a warmhearted friend, whose' kindness does not pass over individuals and waste itself in a vague philanthropy. So much, at least, we can say of the man, and this do we base not only upon former personal acquaintance and upon our former study of his writings.

What is the best form of the bolded selection "Neither in the exquisite delicacy and finish of his chiseled sentences, or in the metallic ring of his style"?

Possible Answers:

neither in the exquisite delicacy and finish of his chiseled sentences, nor in the metallic ring of his style

NO CHANGE

neither in the exquisite delicacy and finish of his chiseled sentences, and in the metallic ring of his style

neither in the exquisite delicacy and finish of his chiseled sentences or in the metallic ring of his style

Correct answer:

neither in the exquisite delicacy and finish of his chiseled sentences, nor in the metallic ring of his style

Explanation:

The issue here is the use of the correlative conjunctions, "Neither . . . nor." The sentence does not use "nor" properly. The "or" should be replaced with "nor."

Example Question #14 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

Adapted from “Emerson’s Prose Works” in The Works of Orestes A. Brownson: Philosophy of Religion by Orestes Brownson (ed. 1883)

Mr. Emersons literary reputation is established and placed beyond the reach of criticism. No living writer surpasses him in his mastery of pure and classic English; nor do any equal himneither in the exquisite delicacy and finish of his chiseled sentences, or in the metallic ring of his style. It is only as a thinker and teacher that we can venture any inquiry into his merits; and as such we cannot suffer ourselves to be imposed upon by his oracular manner, nor by the apparent originality either of his views or his expressions.

Mr. Emerson has had a swarm both of admirers but also of detractors. With many, he is a philosopher and sage, almost a god; while with others, he is regarded as an unintelligible mystic, babbling nonsense fitted to captivate beardless young men and silly maidens with pretty curls, all of who constituted years ago the great body of his hearers and worshipers. We rank us in neither class, though we regard he as no ordinary man. Indeed, we believe he to be one of the deepest thinkers as well as one of the first poets of our country. Indeed, by long acquaintance have him and us been in mutual contact—if only from a distance at times. We know him to be a polished gentleman, a genial companion, and a warmhearted friend, whose' kindness does not pass over individuals and waste itself in a vague philanthropy. So much, at least, we can say of the man, and this do we base not only upon former personal acquaintance and upon our former study of his writings.

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:

both of admirers and of detractors

both admirers and with detractors

both of admirers and not of detractors

both of admirers or of detractors

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

both of admirers and of detractors

Explanation:

The problem in this selection is the use of the correlative conjunction set "both . . . and . . ." As written, the sentence incorrectly uses "but also." Note, however, that the form, "Both of admirers and not of detractors" also is incorrect because of the immediate negation ("not") after "and."

Example Question #15 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

Today, most Americans are familiar with the idea of purchasing music and movies online. While a number of these users continue to download these media files illegally, the overall public conscience had changed regarding this matter. Early in the history of digital media, most were far less certain about the legality and illegality of downloading such files. Today, matters are quite different, not only because of several important lawsuits but, indeed, because of the overall growth of relative inexpensive means of purchasing such digital content. This change of conscience has been accompanied by a simultaneously change in culture regarding online file-sharing. In the early days of illegal file-sharing, users would regularly host servers that were overtly and publically visible to users and potential enforcement personnel. Today, however, people utilize a number of carefully planned modes of obfuscation. Using encryption, indirection, and other means the contemporary illegal file-sharer shows clear awareness of the fact that their activity is illegal.

What is the best form of the bolded selection?

Possible Answers:

not only because of several important lawsuits but, indeed, because of the overall growth of relative inexpensive means of purchasing such digital content

not only because of several important lawsuits but also because of the overall growth of relative inexpensive means of purchasing such digital content

not only because of several important lawsuits nor because of the overall growth of relative inexpensive means of purchasing such digital content

not only because of several important lawsuits but instead because of the overall growth of relative inexpensive means of purchasing such digital content

Correct answer:

not only because of several important lawsuits but also because of the overall growth of relative inexpensive means of purchasing such digital content

Explanation:

The expression "not only" functions as a correlative conjunction with the expression "but also." It indicates two things that are gathered together, drawing attention to the fact that there is a second thing under consideration.  Here, the two reasons for increased awareness are:

(1) "several important lawsuits"

(2) "the overall growth of inexpensive means of sharing content"

Example Question #16 : Correlative Conjunction Errors

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

Dogs are known for being very friendly, and cats are thought to be more aloof. 

Possible Answers:

moreover

NO CHANGE

inasmuch

so

but

Correct answer:

but

Explanation:

The first part and second part of the sentence are both independent clauses; they also demonstrate a contrast; therefore, "but" is the apropriate conjunction in this situation.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Correlative Conjunction 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.

In Emily Brontë's novel Wuthering Heights, the heroine, Catherine, must choose between true love or social preeminence.

Possible Answers:

the heroine, Catherine, must have chosen between true love or social preeminence.

the heroine, Catherine, must have to be choosing between true love either or social preeminence.

the heroine, Catherine, must choose between true love and social preeminence.

the heroine, Catherine, must make a choice between true love or social preeminence.

the heroine, Catherine, must choose between true love or social preeminence.

Correct answer:

the heroine, Catherine, must choose between true love and social preeminence.

Explanation:

Only answer choice "the heroine, Catherine, must choose between true love and social preeminence" correctly uses "and" with the preposition "between."

The other answer choices, including the original text "the heroine, Catherine, must choose between true love or social preeminence," contain an incorrect idiomatic expression. When we have "between," we typically need the word "and"—rather than "or"—to separate the entities that follow.

Example Question #3 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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. One of the answer choices repeats the underlined portion as it is written.

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, but polar bears, iguanas, and toucans.

Possible Answers:

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, and polar bears, iguanas, and toucans.

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, also polar bears, iguanas, and toucans.

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, although polar bears, iguanas, and toucans too.

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, but also polar bears, iguanas, and toucans.

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, but polar bears, iguanas, and toucans.

Correct answer:

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, but also polar bears, iguanas, and toucans.

Explanation:

In standard English, when you use the phrase "not only" in a sentence, it should be followed by the phrase "but also." So, the correct answer is "When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, but also polar bears, iguanas, and toucans."

Example Question #4 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The remake of the film was neither enjoyable and definitely not faithful to the original film.

Possible Answers:

and definitely not faithful to the original film

nor were it faithful to the original film

nor faithful to the original film

and it wasn't even faithful to the original film

nor was it faithful to the original film

Correct answer:

nor faithful to the original film

Explanation:

When "neither" is used in a sentence, "nor" should follow it, creating the structure "neither X nor Y," where X and Y are items formatted in the same manner. To correct the sentence, we need to change "and definitely not" to "nor." Several answer choices do this: "nor faithful to the original film," "nor were it faithful to the original film," and "nor was it faithful to the original film." "Nor were it faithful to the original film" and "nor was it faithful to the original film" might each look like potentially correct answers, but each introduces a verb that disrupts the parallel structure of "neither X nor Y," in which "nor" should be immediately followed by "faithful to the original film." The correct answer is thus "nor faithful to the original film," making the corrected sentence, "The remake of the film was neither enjoyable nor faithful to the original film."

Example Question #5 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

After Jonas graduates from high school, his father hopes that Jonas will either attend college nor join the army to learn a skill.

Possible Answers:

Jonas will neither attend college or join the army to learn a skill

Jonas will either attend college or joining the army to learn a skill

Jonas will either attend college and join the army to learn a skill

Jonas will either attend college nor join the army to learn a skill

Jonas will either attend college or join the army to learn a skill

Correct answer:

Jonas will either attend college or join the army to learn a skill

Explanation:

Correlative conjunctions are used in specific pairs: "either" must be paired with "or" and "neither" must be paired with "nor" when you want to use them as correlative conjunctions. When using these correlative conjunctions, it is also important to remember to use parallel phrasing with each element that is being associated through the use of the conjunction.

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