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 #62 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

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.

The boys in the band as disputatious as ever, refused to board the bus until they were paid.

Possible Answers:

The boys in the band as disputatious, as ever,

The boys in the band as disputatious as ever,

The boys in the band, as disputatious as ever,

The boys in the band as disputatious as ever

The boys' in the band as disputatious as ever,

Correct answer:

The boys in the band, as disputatious as ever,

Explanation:

The phrase "as disputatious as ever" is a non-restrictive interrupting phrase, or a phrase that provides extra information and is not necessary to the meaning of the sentence. Any such phrase must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. As such, "The boys in the band, as disputatious as ever," is the correct answer.

Example Question #63 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

Frequently students wish they did not have to take as many required courses.

Possible Answers:

Frequently students'

Frequently students

Frequent, students

Frequently, students

Frequent students

Correct answer:

Frequently, students

Explanation:

The word "Frequently" in the sentence is used as an adverb describing the actions of the students; therefore, it must be set apart from the rest of the sentence, and "students" in particular, to work as an introductory phrase. "Frequently, students" is the correct answer.

Example Question #71 : Correcting Punctuation Errors

Day by day fewer people emerged from the countryside to attend the fair in the village.

Possible Answers:

Fewer day by day

Day by day, fewer 

Day, by day fewer 

Fewer, day by day

Day, by day, fewer 

Correct answer:

Day by day, fewer 

Explanation:

The phrase "day by day" is used in the sentence as an introductory phrase, modifying the meaning of the sentence. As such, it needs to be set off from the rest of the sentence. "Day by day, fewer" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #65 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

When researching employment opportunities college students frequently become overly focused on one potential job.

Possible Answers:

employment, opportunities college students

employment opportunities college, students

employment opportunities college students

employment opportunities, college students

employment opportunities college students,

Correct answer:

employment opportunities, college students

Explanation:

The phrase "when researching employment opportunites" operates in the sentence as an introductory conditional phrase, giving a necessary "if" to the sentence. Such a clause needs to be appropriately set apart from the rest of the sentence; therefore, "employment opportunities, college students" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #66 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

Everyday people wander into dangerous areas of the city, and do not appear the next day.

Possible Answers:

Every day people

Everyday, person

Everyday people

Everyday persons

Everyday, people

Correct answer:

Everyday, people

Explanation:

The word "everyday" in the sentence acts as a conditional phrase, indicating how often people do what is described in the sentence. Such a phrase, must be set off by a comma from the rest of the sentence. Therefore, "Everyday, people" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #67 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

Lately families have begun moving back to the city's core and sparking a revitalization of downtown businesses.

Possible Answers:

Lately, family's

Late, families

Lately, families

Lately families

Lately family's

Correct answer:

Lately, families

Explanation:

The underlined portion of the sentence contains a slight punctuation error. Speciifically, the word "Lately" is used as an introductory phrase, explaining the condition under which the action takes place, and such clauses need to be set off by a comma from the rest of the sentence. "Lately, families" is the correct answer.

Example Question #68 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

On this date an unspeakable evil befell the world, changing the way people thought forever.

Possible Answers:

On this date the unspeakable evil

On that date an unspeakable evil

On this date, an unspeakable evil

On this date unspeakable evil

On this date an unspeakable evil

Correct answer:

On this date, an unspeakable evil

Explanation:

The phrase "On this date" is an introductory clause, describing when the action of the sentence took place. An introductory clause must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by a comma. Therefore, "On this date, an unspeakable evil" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #69 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

Unfamiliar to most listeners the band was highly influential among its most devoted fans.

Possible Answers:

Unfamiliar to most listeners the band

Unfamiliar, to most listeners the band

Unfamiliar, to most, listeners the band

Unfamiliar to most listeners, the band

Unfamiliar to most, listeners of the band

Correct answer:

Unfamiliar to most listeners, the band

Explanation:

The phrase "Unfamiliar to most listeners" is used in this sentence as an introductory phrase, something that explains the actions of the rest of the sentence. All such sentences must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by a comma. "Unfamiliar to most listeners, the band" is the correct answer.

Example Question #70 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

Working on a new book the author refused to answer any press questions about his previous novels.

Possible Answers:

Working on a new book, the author

Working on a new book the author

Working, on a new book the author

Working on a new book for the author

Working, on a new book, the author

Correct answer:

Working on a new book, the author

Explanation:

The phrase "Working on a new book" is an introductory phrase that explains the condition upon the action of the sentence. All such phrases must be separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma. "Working on a new book, the author" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #361 : Punctuation Errors

Unquestionably the most difficult thing in professional sports is hitting a baseball.

Possible Answers:

Unquestionably, the most difficult thing

Unquestionably the most difficult thing,

Unquestionably the most difficult, thing

Unquestionably the most difficult thing

Unquestionably, the most difficult thing,

Correct answer:

Unquestionably, the most difficult thing

Explanation:

The word "unquestionably" is used in this sentence as an introductory phrase, giving a condition for the rest of the sentence (namely that the statement can not be questioned). An introductory phrase must always be set apart from the rest of the sentence by a comma. "Unquestionably, the most difficult thing" is therefore the correct answer choice.

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