ACT English : Usage Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Act English

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 beach can be a fun place to visit about long weekends.

Possible Answers:

The beach can be a fun place to visit about long weekends.

The beach is always a fun place to visit further long weekends.

The beach can be a fun place to visit on long weekends.

The beach is often a fun place to visit around long weekends.

The beach is always a fun place to visit beyond long weekends.

Correct answer:

The beach can be a fun place to visit on long weekends.

Explanation:

Here, the preposition "on" is most appropriate of the choices available.

Example Question #11 : Correcting Preposition 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.

Never before did the members of the class see a sight such like that.

Possible Answers:

sight such like that.

 a sight such like that.

 a sight such like.

 a sight such as that.

 a sight such that.

Correct answer:

 a sight such as that.

Explanation:

"Such as" and "like" are related terms, with both being used to indicate examples of things mentioned earlier in the sentence. The correct usage, however, is either "such as" or "like," with "such like" being completely incorrect. The correct answer is "a sight such as that."

Example Question #13 : Usage Errors

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:

NO CHANGE

was annoyed

has been annoyed

will be annoyed

Correct answer:

was annoyed

Explanation:

The entire passage is written in past tense, so the past tense form "was annoyed" is most appropriate here.

Example Question #13 : 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.

Which is the best form of the bolded and underlined section?

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

was deciding

decided

is deciding

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

The hero's decision takes place in the past of other past events in the game, so the past perfect form ("had decided") is appropriate here.

Example Question #21 : Act English

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:

One woman was the one was answered our questions

By one woman most of our questions were answered

NO CHANGE

One woman answered our questions

Correct answer:

One woman answered our questions

Explanation:

The original form of the sentence is in passive voice, and all but the choice "One woman answered our questions" are variations on the passive voice.

Example Question #2 : Verb Formation 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:

Hugh was annoyed

Hugh got annoyed

Hugh had gotten annoyed

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

Hugh got annoyed

Explanation:

The phrase "Hugh got annoyed" would be the most active form of the phrase as the original and all the other choices are in passive voice.

Example Question #1 : Other Usage Errors

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:

the worst

worser

NO CHANGE

more worse

Correct answer:

the worst

Explanation:

In the context of the passage, Jimmy is comparing three things: the lack of suspenseful moments and so on, the difficulty of steering the cars, and the ending. Since three things are being compared, the superlative form "the worst" would be the most logical choice here. A "the" is needed because "worst" is acting as a substantive adjective, or an adjective that stands in for a noun. For example, the sentence could say, "But the ending of the game was the worst part of it," or it could say, "But the ending of the game was the worst," and leave the comparison between the lack of suspenseful moments and so on, the difficulty of steering cars, and the ending implied but not directly stated.

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:

the biggest

the biggest of the three

NO CHANGE

the biggest of the two

Correct answer:

the biggest of the three

Explanation:

More than two paintings are being compared, and so the superlative form "the biggest of the three" would be appropriate. "The biggest" would be an incomplete idea.

Example Question #1 : Other Usage 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 of the following would be an acceptable replacement for the underlined phrase?

Possible Answers:

in effect

and so forth

that is

for example

Correct answer:

and so forth

Explanation:

"Etc." is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase "et cetera," which literally means "and so forth."

Example Question #1 : Other Pronoun 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 whomever 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:

NO CHANGE

What

Whom

Whomever

Correct answer:

Whom

Explanation:

The interrogative pronoun "whom" is the correct answer here because if the question were answered, the result would be "They talked to a woman," meaning that the pronoun that would replace it needs to be an object pronoun ("whom") rather than a subject pronoun ("who").

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