PSAT Writing : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Introductory Or Interrupting Phrases

Select the answer that produces the most effective sentence, one that is clear and exact, without awkwardness or ambiguity.

The Americans unaware of their countries tense foreign relationship with the small island, were surprised when they heard of the protests.

Possible Answers:

Unaware of their country's tense foreign relationship the Americans

The Americans, unaware of their country's tense foreign relationship

Unaware of the American's tense foreign relationship

The Americans are unaware of their country's tense foreign relationship

The Americans, having been unaware of their countries tense foreign relationship

Correct answer:

The Americans, unaware of their country's tense foreign relationship

Explanation:

When additional elements are put after or before the subject (in this case, "unaware of their country's") it should be separated by commas. Also look for the answer where "country" is in its proper possessive state: "their country's tense foreign relationship."

Example Question #41 : Correcting Punctuation 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.

The speaker a long time civic activist urged the crowd to take a grass roots approach to politics.

Possible Answers:

The speaker a long time civic activist urged

The speaker, a long time civic activist urged

The speaker as a long time civic activist urged

The speaker, a long time civic activist, urged

The speaker a long time civic activist, urged

Correct answer:

The speaker, a long time civic activist, urged

Explanation:

The phrase "a long time civic activist" is an appositive, a noun that renames a previously introduced noun while providing more information about that previously introduced noun. Appositives that can be removed from a sentence without affecting the sentence's meaning must be set apart by commas. "The speaker, a long time civic activist, urged" is the only answer choice that actually does this.

Example Question #351 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

The dogs all rescued from local shelters took quite awhile to adjust to their new foster homes.

Possible Answers:

The dogs all rescued from local shelters, took quite a while to adjust to their new foster homes.

The dogs, all rescued from local shelters, took quite a while to adjust to their new foster homes.

The dogs, all rescued from local shelters took quite a while to adjust to their new foster homes.

The dogs, all rescued, from local shelters, took quite a while to adjust to their new foster homes.

The dogs all rescued from local shelters took quite a while to adjust to their new foster homes.

Correct answer:

The dogs, all rescued from local shelters, took quite a while to adjust to their new foster homes.

Explanation:

The phrase "all rescued from local shelters" is an interrupting phrase, a phrase that gives additional information to the sentence but remains apart from its structure. All interrupting phrases must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. The only answer choice that appropriately does this is "The dogs, all rescued from local shelters, took quite a while to adjust to their new foster homes."

Example Question #41 : Correcting Punctuation 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.

The tournament held every four years is one of the biggest spectacles in the world.

Possible Answers:

The tournament, held every four years, is

The tournament, held every four years is

The tournament held every four years is

The tournament held every four years are

The tournament held every four years, is

Correct answer:

The tournament, held every four years, is

Explanation:

The phrase "held every four years" is an adjectival participle phrase, one that sits outside the structure of the sentence, but provides extra information. Any such phrase must be set apart by commas. "The tournament, held every four years, is" is the only answer choice that appropriately does this.

Example Question #11 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Introductory Or Interrupting Phrases

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 dance originally scheduled for three hours had to be cut short after just an hour.

Possible Answers:

The dance originally scheduled for three hours had to be cut short after just an hour.

The dance originally scheduled for three hours, had to be cut short after just an hour.

The dance, originally scheduled for three hours had to be cut short after just an hour.

The dance, originally scheduled for three hours, had to be cut short after just an hour.

The dance originally, scheduled for three hours had to be cut short after just an hour. 

Correct answer:

The dance, originally scheduled for three hours, had to be cut short after just an hour.

Explanation:

The phrase "originally scheduled for three hours" is an interrupting phrase, or one that sits outside the sentence's structure but provides extra information. All interrupting phrases must be set apart by commas. The only answer choice that appropriately does this is "The dance, originally scheduled for three hours, had to be cut short after just an hour.

Example Question #42 : Correcting Punctuation 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.

Black clothing said to be slimming actually depends on the wearer’s shape for its slimming qualities.

Possible Answers:

Black clothing is said to be slimming, actually depends on the wearer’s shape for its slimming qualities.

Black clothing said to be slimming, actually depends on the wearer’s shape for its slimming qualities.

Black clothing, said to be slimming actually depends on the wearer’s shape for its slimming qualities.

Black clothing said to be slimming actually depends on the wearer’s shape for its slimming qualities.

Black clothing, said to be slimming, actually depends on the wearer’s shape for its slimming qualities.

Correct answer:

Black clothing, said to be slimming, actually depends on the wearer’s shape for its slimming qualities.

Explanation:

The phrase "said to be slimming" is an interrupting phrase, a phrase that provides extra information to a sentence, but is not a crucial part of its structure. Any interrupting phrase must be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "Black clothing, said to be slimming, actually depends on the wearer’s shape for its slimming qualities."

Example Question #43 : Correcting Punctuation 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.

The advertisement, which broke new ground in the medium remained famous for decades after its creation. 

Possible Answers:

The advertisement which broke new ground in the medium, remained

The advertisement, which broke new ground in the medium, remained

The advertisement which broke new ground, in the medium remained

The advertisement, which broke new ground in the medium remained

The advertisement which broke new ground in the medium remained

Correct answer:

The advertisement, which broke new ground in the medium, remained

Explanation:

The phrase "which broke new ground in the medium" is an interrupting phrase, a phrase that provides information but is not crucial to the structure of the sentence. All interrupting phrases must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. The only answer choice that appropriately does this is "The advertisement, which broke new ground in the medium, remained."

Example Question #44 : Correcting Punctuation 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.

The sportscaster, a familiar presence on local radio announced his retirement earlier this month, at the age of eighty-seven.

Possible Answers:

The sportscaster, a familiar presence on local radio announced his retirement earlier this month, at the age of eighty-seven.

The sportscaster a familiar presence on local radio announced his retirement earlier this month, at the age of eighty-seven.

The sportscaster, a familiar presence on local radio, announced his retirement earlier this month, at the age of eighty-seven.

The sportscaster a familiar presence on local radio announced his retirement earlier this month at the age of eighty-seven.

The sportscaster, a familiar presence on local radio announced his retirement earlier this month at the age of eighty-seven.

Correct answer:

The sportscaster, a familiar presence on local radio, announced his retirement earlier this month, at the age of eighty-seven.

Explanation:

The phrase "a familiar presence on local radio" is an interrupting phrase, one that provides extra information to the sentence but is not part of the sentence's necessary structure. All interrupting phrases must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. The only answer choice that correctly sets off the interrupting phrase is "The sportscaster, a familiar presence on local radio, announced his retirement earlier this month, at the age of eighty-seven."

Example Question #31 : 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.

Moving away from his hometown, the college student wanted to experience a different part of the country.

Possible Answers:

Moving away from his hometown, the college student wanting

Moving away, from his hometown, the college student wanted

Moving away from his hometown, the college student, wanted

Moving away from his hometown, the college student wanted

Moving away from his hometown the college student wanted

Correct answer:

Moving away from his hometown, the college student wanted

Explanation:

The phrase "Moving away from his hometown" is an introductory phrase, one that conditions the main action of the sentence while remaining separate from the sentence's main body. All introductory phrases must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by a comma. "Moving away from his hometowm, the college student wanted" is the only answer choice that appropriately does this.

Example Question #51 : Correcting Punctuation 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.

The driver, making up for lost time started driving much faster than the speed limit.

Possible Answers:

The driver making up for lost time started driving much faster

The driver, making up for lost time started driving much faster

The driver, making up for lost time started to drive much faster

The driver, making up for lost time, started driving much faster

The driver making up for lost time started to drive much faster

Correct answer:

The driver, making up for lost time, started driving much faster

Explanation:

The phrase "making up for lost time" is an interrupting phrase, one that adds extra information to the sentence, but remains apart from its structure. All interrupting phrases must be set apart from the sentence by commas. "The driver, making up for lost time, started driving much faster" is the only answer choice that correctly does this.

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