PSAT Writing : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #41 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

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.

One of Robert's role models is his father, a fireman, local hero, and small business owner, he started a popular clothing retail store. 

Possible Answers:

owner, having started

owner, he started 

owner who started 

owner having started

owner, starting

Correct answer:

owner who started 

Explanation:

Grammatically, it is best to avoid use of verbs ending in "-ing" where they are not necessary. The correct answer avoids this by using the phrase "owner who started." It is also the most efficient (and least wordy) option. 

Example Question #1 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Although I was raised in an English-speaking household, I always found French and Spanish much more beautiful.

Possible Answers:

Although I, raised in an English-speaking household, always found French and Spanish much more beautiful.

I was raised in an English-speaking household, I always found French and Spanish much more beautiful.

Although I was always raised in an English-speaking household, found French and Spanish much more beautiful.

Although I was raised in an English-speaking household, I always found French and Spanish much more beautiful.

Although I was raised in an English-speaking household; I always found French and Spanish much more beautiful.

Correct answer:

Although I was raised in an English-speaking household, I always found French and Spanish much more beautiful.

Explanation:

The original sentence contains a subordinate clause, "Although I was raised in an English-speaking household," and an independent clause, "I always found French and Spanish much more beautiful." Therefore the comma separating them is correct, and the sentence contains no error. The word "although," especially when used at the beginning of a sentence, is an easy marker for subordinate clauses.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

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.

I find myself very drawn to the sea, I try to visit it often.

Possible Answers:

I find myself very drawn to the sea, I try to visit it often.

I, finding myself very drawn to the sea, I try to visit it often.

I find myself, and very drawn to the sea, so I try to visit it often.

I find myself very drawn to the sea; I try to visit it often.

To find myself very drawn to the sea, I try to visit it often.

Correct answer:

I find myself very drawn to the sea; I try to visit it often.

Explanation:

In this question, the original sentence was actually formed by two independent clauses combined with a comma (a comma splice). In order to unite two independent clauses, either one clause must be subordinated, or stronger punctuation must be used. Only the correct answer choice connects the independent clauses with the correct punctuation, in this case, a semicolon.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas In Lists

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.

Angles, Jutes, and Saxons, were the dominant tribes that invaded Britain during that era.

Possible Answers:

Angles Jutes, and Saxons were

Angles, Jutes, and Saxons were

Angles, Jutes, and Saxons, were

Angles Jutes Saxons were

Angles, Jutes, Saxons, were

Correct answer:

Angles, Jutes, and Saxons were

Explanation:

The list that forms the subject of the sentence, "Angles, Jutes, and Saxons," appropriately separates its items with commas. The comma between "Saxons" and "were" splits the subject of the sentence from the verb, and should be removed. This makes "Angles, Jutes, and Saxons were" the correct answer choice.

Example Question #351 : Correcting Punctuation Errors

Jane Sally and Suzy all went to the zoo together, making the experience one they all three would treasure.

Possible Answers:

Jane Sally and Suzy, all went to the zoo together

Jane Sally and Suzy all went to the zoo together

Jane, Sally, and Suzy all went to the zoo together

Jane, Sally, and Suzy, all went to the zoo together

Jane Sally, and Suzy all went to the zoo together

Correct answer:

Jane, Sally, and Suzy all went to the zoo together

Explanation:

The list of names that forms the subject of the sentence is written incorrectly. All lists need to have commas separating their parts from each other for purposes of clarity. The correct answer choice is "Jane, Sally, and Suzy all went to the zoo together."

Example Question #1601 : Improving Sentences

Tom Dick and Harry have all seen the problems with the newspaper's advertising strategy.

Possible Answers:

Tom Dick and Harry have all saw

Tom Dick and Harry have all seen

Tom, Dick, and Harry, have all seen

Tom Dick and Harry, have all seen

Tom, Dick, and Harry have all seen

Correct answer:

Tom, Dick, and Harry have all seen

Explanation:

The list of names that make up the subjects of the sentence all need to be appropriately punctuated. Any such list needs have all the elements set apart from each other; therefore, "Tom, Dick, and Harry have all seen" is the correct answer.

Example Question #661 : Improving Sentences

Politicians organizers and reformers all came together to bring the initiative to the legislature.

Possible Answers:

Politicians organizers and reformers all came together

Politicians organizers and reformers, all came together

Politicians organizers and reformers have all come together

Politicians, organizers, and reformers all came together

Politicians organizers and reformers all come together

Correct answer:

Politicians, organizers, and reformers all came together

Explanation:

The list that functions as the subject of the sentence needs to have commas separating its elements, distinguishing the different parts. The only answer choice that does this is "Politicians, organizers, and reformers all came together," making it the correct answer choice.

Example Question #101 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

The issues to be discussed in the debate will be economics foreign policy and health care

Possible Answers:

economics foreign policy health care.

economics, foreign policy, and health care.

economics foreign policy, and health care.

economics; foreign policy; and health care.

economics foreign policy and health care.

Correct answer:

economics, foreign policy, and health care.

Explanation:

A list like the one in the underlined portion of the sentence must always be appropriately separated out, especially when the elements of the list are two words, like "foreign policy." The only answer choice that clearly delineates the three component parts of the list is "economics, foreign policy, and health care."

Example Question #3781 : Sat Writing

The athletes musicians, and actors all came together to help the charity raise money at the event.

Possible Answers:

The athletes, musicians, and actors

The athlete's musician's and actor's

The athletes, musicians, actors

The athletes musicians, and actors

The athletes musicians and actors

Correct answer:

The athletes, musicians, and actors

Explanation:

Any list like the one used as the subject of the sentence needs to have its elements separated by commas to distinguish the separate parts. The only answer choice that appropriately does this is "The athletes, musicians, and actors," with every other answer choice being grammatically incorrect.

Example Question #7 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas In Lists

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.

Rowing lacrosse and tennis are all sports that are growing in popularity.

Possible Answers:

Rowing, lacrosse, and tennis are

Rowing lacrosse and tennis is

Rowing lacrosse and tennis are

Rowing lacrosse, and tennis are

Rowing lacrosse, and tennis is

Correct answer:

Rowing, lacrosse, and tennis are

Explanation:

A list like the one in the underlined portion of the sentence always needs to be separated by commas to clearly distinguish between the different elements in the list. The only answer choice that correctly does this is "Rowing, lacrosse, and tennis are," making it the correct answer choice.

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