ACT English : Other Usage Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

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Example Question #748 : Usage Errors

Adapted from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)

At three o’clock precisely I was at Baker Street, but Holmes had not yet returned. The landlady informed me that he had left the house shortly after eight o’clock in the morning. I sat down beside the fire, however, with the intention of awaiting him, however long he might be. I was already deeply interested in his inquiry, for, though it was surrounded by none of the grim and strange features which were associated with the two crimes which I have already recorded, still, the nature of the case and the exalted station of his client gave it a character of its own. Indeed, apart to the nature of the investigation which my friend had on hand, there was something in his masterly grasp of a situation, and his keen, incisive reasoning, which made it a pleasure to me to study his system of work, and to follow the quick, subtle methods by which he disentangled the most inextricable mysteries. So accustomed was I to his invariable success that the very possibility of his failing had ceased to enter into my head.

Which of the following alternatives would NOT be an appropriate substitution for the bolded and underlined sentence?

Possible Answers:

So accustomed was I to his invariable success that the possibility of he failing had ceased to enter into my head.

I was so accustomed to his invariable success that the very possibility of his failing had ceased to enter into my head.

None of the other answers.

I was so accustomed to his invariable success that the very possibility of his failing had ceased to enter my head.

So accustomed was I to his invariable success that the very possibility of his failing had ceased to enter my head.

Correct answer:

So accustomed was I to his invariable success that the possibility of he failing had ceased to enter into my head.

Explanation:

The grammatical error that cannot be ignored is that of the prepositional phrase, "of his failing" in which the gerund, failing, must follow a possessive pronoun ("his," not "he").

Example Question #2621 : Act English

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

Garrett was extremely frustrated to find that the results of his study were inconsistent to those presented in previous research.

Possible Answers:

were inconsistent with those

were inconsistent with that

were inconsistent from those

were inconsistent to that

NO CHANGE.

Correct answer:

were inconsistent with those

Explanation:

The adjective "inconsistent" should be paired with the preposition "with" as opposed to with "to" or "from." "Inconsistent with" is the appropriate pairing. Because the demonstrative "those" refers to "results," which is plural, "those" is the correct choice over "that."

Example Question #2622 : Act English

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

With three older siblings already having excelled as tennis stars at the school, Hannah strived to be different than her siblings and chose soccer instead.

Possible Answers:

Hannah strived to be different than her siblings, and chose soccer instead.

Hannah strived to be different after her siblings, and chose soccer instead.

NO CHANGE.

Hannah strived to be different from her siblings and chose soccer instead.

Hannah strived to be different to her siblings and chose soccer instead.

Correct answer:

Hannah strived to be different from her siblings and chose soccer instead.

Explanation:

The pairing "different from" is correct, as opposed to "different to" or "different than." "Than" is used for comparatives, as in something is MORE different than something else, so "different from" is more appropriate here. No comma is necessary in this underlined portion.

Example Question #2261 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Passage adapted from Stephen Leacock, The Dawn of Canadian History: A Chronicle of Aboriginal Canada (1915)

When the Europeans came to this continent at the end of the fifteenth century they found it already inhabited through races of men very different from themselves. These people, whom they took to calling "Indians," were spread out, though very thinly, from one end of the continent to the other. Who were these nations, and how was their presence to be accounted 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:

found it already inhabited by races of men very different from themselves

found it already inhabited through races and men very different from themselves

found it already inhabited through races of men very different than themselves

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

found it already inhabited by races of men very different from themselves

Explanation:

The correct version of the sentence uses the preposition "by" to introduce the agent performing the action of the passive verb phrase. It is clear that "races of men" functions as the agent here, because flipping the sentence around to make it active communicates the same idea: "races of men very different than themselves already inhabited..."

The preposition "through" is not appropriate here, since it doesn't complement the participle "inhabited" but rather the whole clause, "they found it inhabited." This yields the implausible meaning "with help from races of men, they found the land inhabited."

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