PSAT Writing : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas for Introductory or Interrupting Phrases

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #761 : 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 lottery winner a poor farmer, said he was unsure what he would do with his winnings.

Possible Answers:

The lottery winner, a poor farmer, said

The lottery winner a poor farmer, said

The lottery winner a poor farmer said

The lottery winner a poor farmer, says

The lottery winner, a poor farmer said

Correct answer:

The lottery winner, a poor farmer, said

Explanation:

The phrase "a poor farmer" is an interrupting phrase, one that provides extra information but is not a crucial part of the sentence's structure. All interrupting phrases must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "The lottery winner, a poor farmer, said."

Example Question #1471 : Psat Writing Skills

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.

Although she was supposed to pick out one puppy to adopt at the animal shelter Sarah wanted to adopt all of them.

Possible Answers:

Although she was supposed to pick out one puppy to adopt at the animal shelter. Sarah wanted to adopt all of them.

Although she was supposed to pick out one puppy to adopt at the animal shelter Sarah wanted to adopt one of them.

Although she was supposed to pick out one puppy to adopt at the animal shelter, so Sarah wanted to adopt all of them.

Although she was supposed to pick out one puppy to adopt at the animal shelter, Sarah wanted to adopt all of them.

Although she was supposed to pick out one puppy to adopt at the animal shelter; Sarah wanted to adopt all of them.

Correct answer:

Although she was supposed to pick out one puppy to adopt at the animal shelter, Sarah wanted to adopt all of them.

Explanation:

"Although she was supposed to pick out one puppy to adopt at the animal shelter" is a subordinate or dependent clause. When you begin a sentence with a subordinate clause, you need to separate it from the independent clause with a comma.

Example Question #3921 : Sat Writing

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.

For the next twenty years which went past his retirement, the detective was haunted by the unsolved murder case.

Possible Answers:

For the next twenty years going past his retirement

For the next twenty years, which went past his retirement

For the next twenty years which went past his retirement

For the next twenty years which went past his retirement,

For the next twenty years, which went past his retirement,

Correct answer:

For the next twenty years, which went past his retirement,

Explanation:

The phrase "which went past his retirement" is an interrupting phrase, a phrase whch provides information to the meaning of the sentence but is outside the structure of the sentence. An interrupting phrase needs to be set apart by commas, making "For the next twenty years,which went past his retirement," the correct answer choice.

Example Question #3922 : Sat Writing

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.

Finding the best location the treasure hunters began digging furiously.

Possible Answers:

Finding the best location the treasure hunters began digging furious.

Finding the best location for the treasure hunters began digging furiously.

Finding the best location the treasure hunters began to dig furiously.

Finding the best location, the treasure hunters began digging furiously.

Finding the best location the treasure hunters began digging furiously.

Correct answer:

Finding the best location, the treasure hunters began digging furiously.

Explanation:

"Finding the best location" is an introductory phrase in the sentence, meaning that it conditions the action of the main portion of the sentence. All introductory phrases must be set apart from the main part of the sentence by a comma. The only answer choice that does this is "Finding the best location, the treasure hunters began digging furiously."

Example Question #3923 : Sat Writing

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.

Under the old rules that kind of shot was perfectly legal.

Possible Answers:

Under the old rules that kind of shot was perfectly legal.

Under the old rules that kind of shot was perfect legal.

Under the old rules, that kind of shot was perfectly legal.

Under the old rules this kind of shot was perfectly legal.

Under the old rules that kind of shot is perfectly legal.

Correct answer:

Under the old rules, that kind of shot was perfectly legal.

Explanation:

The phrase "Under the old rules" is an introductory phrase, one that conditions the meaning of the sentence but remains apart from its structure. All introductory phrases must be set off by a comma. The only answer choice that inserts such a comma is "Under the old rules, that kind of shot was perfectly legal."

Example Question #3924 : Sat Writing

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 soldier, a mercenary from a foreign country was distrusted by the army's commanders.

Possible Answers:

The soldier, a mercenary from a foreign country were

The soldier, a mercenary from a foreign country was

The soldier, a mercenary from a foreign country, was

The soldier a mercenary from a foreign country was

The soldier a mercenary from a foreign country were

Correct answer:

The soldier, a mercenary from a foreign country, was

Explanation:

In the sentence, the phrase "a mercenary from a foreign country" is an interrupting phrase, one that provides information but is not critical to the structure of the sentence. All such phrases need to be set apart from the sentence by a comma; therefore, the correct answer is "The soldier, a mercenary from a foreign country, was."

Example Question #1751 : 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 soldiers tired from their long march, gladly settled down for the night.

Possible Answers:

The soldiers' tired from their long march, gladly settled

The soldiers, tired from their long march, gladly settled

The soldiers tired from their long march, gladly settled

The soldiers tired from their long march gladly settles

The soldiers tired from their long march gladly settled

Correct answer:

The soldiers, tired from their long march, gladly settled

Explanation:

The phrase "tired from their long march" is a non-restrictive interrupting phrase, a phrase the provides information, but is not necessary in the sentence. Such phrases always must be set off by commas. Therefore, "The soldiers, tired from their long march, gladly settled" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #3926 : Sat Writing

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.

Under the old regime the action was perfectly legal and undertaken quite often.

Possible Answers:

Under the old regime, the action was

Under the old regime the action had been

Under the old regime, the action was

Under, the old regime, the action was

Under, the old regime the action was

Under the old regime the action was

Under the old regime the action had been

Under the old regime the action was

Under, the old regime the action was

Under, the old regime, the action was

Correct answer:

Under the old regime, the action was

Explanation:

The phrase "Under the old regime" is what is called a conditional phrase, as it gives the conditions which make the main body of the sentence possible. Such phrases always need to be set off from the main part of the sentence by a comma; therefore, "Under the old regime, the action was," is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #3927 : Sat Writing

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 general prone to overly assertive maneuvers, found his army caught out in front of the main lines.

Possible Answers:

The general prone, to overly assertive maneuvers,

The general prone, to overly assertive maneuvers,

The general, prone to overly assertive maneuvers

The general, prone to overly assertive maneuvers,

The general prone to overly assertive maneuvers,

Correct answer:

The general, prone to overly assertive maneuvers,

Explanation:

The underlined portion of the sentence contains an interrupting phrase, "prone to overly assertive maneuvers." All interrupting phrases must be set apart by commas from the rest of the sentence. Therefore, the correct answer is, "The general, prone to overly assertive maneuvers,."

Example Question #3928 : Sat Writing

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 executive a shrewd negotiator, always waited to make sure he knew his opponent's strengths and weaknesses.

Possible Answers:

The executive, a shrewd negotiator always

The executive, a shrewd negotiator, always

The executive a shrewd negotiator always

The executive a shrewd negotiator, always

The executive a shrewd negotiator, always

Correct answer:

The executive, a shrewd negotiator, always

Explanation:

The phrase "a shrewd negotiator" is an interrupting phrase, a phrase that has no bearing on the construction of the sentence but provides additional information. All interrupting phrases must be set apart by commas; therefore, the correct answer choice is "The executive, a shrewd negotiator, always."

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