PSAT Writing : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #51 : 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 older children, having seen the event before were not as excited as the little kids.

Possible Answers:

The older children, having seen the event before, were not 

The older children having seen the event before were not 

The older children, having seen, the event before were not 

The older children, having seen the event before were not 

The older children having seen the event before, were not 

Correct answer:

The older children, having seen the event before, were not 

Explanation:

The phrase "having seen the event before" is an interrupting phrase, one that adds information to the sentence, but sits outside the sentence's main structure. Any interrupting phrase needs to be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. "The older children, having seen the event before, were not" is the only answer choice that correctly sets the phrase off with commas.

Example Question #152 : 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 musician, capable of playing a dozen instruments needed a larger than normal space for all of his gear.

Possible Answers:

The musician, capable of playing a dozen instruments needed

The musician, capable of playing a dozen instruments, needed

The musician, capable of playing, a dozen instruments needed

The musician capable of playing a dozen instruments needed

The musician capable of playing a dozen instruments, needed

Correct answer:

The musician, capable of playing a dozen instruments, needed

Explanation:

The phrase "capable of playing a dozen instruments" is an interrupting phrase, one that adds extra information to a sentence, but sits outside the main structure of the sentence. Any interrupting phrase must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. "The musician, capable of playing a dozen instruments, needed" is the only answer choice that correctly sets off the interrupting phrase.

Example Question #1411 : 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.

The contractor, a strong and powerful man was able to lift two bags of cement mix at once.

Possible Answers:

The contractor, a strong and powerful man, was able to lift two bags of cement mix at once.

The contractor, a strong and powerful man was able, to lift two bags of cement mix at once.

The contractor a strong and powerful man was able to lift two bags of cement mix at once.

The contractor, a strong and powerful man was able to lift, two bags of cement mix at once.

The contractor, a strong and powerful man was able to lift two bags of cement mix at once.

Correct answer:

The contractor, a strong and powerful man, was able to lift two bags of cement mix at once.

Explanation:

The phrase "a strong and powerful man" is an appositive, a type of interrupting phrase that adds extra information to the sentence, but remains outside the main structure of the sentence. Any interrupting phrase must be set apart by commas from the rest of the sentence, making the correct answer choice "The contractor, a strong and powerful man, was able to lift two bags of cement mix at once."

Example Question #3861 : 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.

The new coach a staunch disciplinarian made the team work harder than they ever had.

Possible Answers:

The new coach a staunch disciplinarian made the team work harder than they ever had.

The new, coach a staunch disciplinarian made the team work harder than they ever had.

The new coach a staunch disciplinarian, made the team work harder than they ever had.

The new coach, a staunch disciplinarian, made the team work harder than they ever had.

The new coach, a staunch disciplinarian made the team work harder than they ever had.

Correct answer:

The new coach, a staunch disciplinarian, made the team work harder than they ever had.

Explanation:

The phrase "a staunch disciplinarian" is an interrupting phrase, one that adds extra information to the sentence, but remains outside the main structure of the sentence. An interrupting phrase needs to be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. The only answer choice that properly sets apart the interrupting phrase is "The new coach, a staunch disciplinarian, made the team work harder than they ever had."

Example Question #351 : 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 vagrant's father a well respected lawyer was as different from the man as could be imagined.

Possible Answers:

father a well respected lawyer, was

father a well respected, lawyer was

father, a well respected lawyer was

father a well respected lawyer was

father, a well respected lawyer, was

Correct answer:

father, a well respected lawyer, was

Explanation:

The phrase "a well respected lawyer" is an interrupting phrase, one that adds information to a sentence but remains apart from its main structure. Any interrupting phrase must be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. The only answer choice to correctly do this is "father, a well respected lawyer, was."

Example Question #61 : 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.

Heartbreak a favorite topic of songwriters, is a prevalent theme throughout the album.

Possible Answers:

Heartbreak a favorite topic of songwriters,

Heartbreak a favorite topic of songwriters

Heartbreak as a favorite topic of songwriters,

Heartbreak, a favorite topic of songwriters,

Heartbreak the favorite topic of songwriters,

Correct answer:

Heartbreak, a favorite topic of songwriters,

Explanation:

The phrase "a favorite topic of songwriters" is an interrupting phrase, a phrase that provides information but is not essential to the structure of the sentence. All interrupting phrases need to be set apart by commas; therefore, "Heartbreak, a favorite topic of songwriters," is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #32 : 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 actor unlike his colleagues, never performed until he was invited to be in the film.

Possible Answers:

The actor unlike his colleagues never performed

The actor unlike his colleagues, never performed

The actor, unlike his colleagues, never performed

The actor unlike his colleagues never performs

The actor, unlike his colleagues never performed

Correct answer:

The actor, unlike his colleagues, never performed

Explanation:

The phrase "unlike his colleagues" is an interrupting phrase, a phrase that provides information in the sentence, but is not a element key to its structure. All such phrases need to be set apart by commas; therefore, "The actor, unlike his colleagues, never performed" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #351 : 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 newspaper a radical journal often sought to foment rebellion.

Possible Answers:

The newspaper, a radical journal often sought to foment rebellion.

The newspaper a radical journal, often sought to foment rebellion.

The newspaper being a radical journal often sought to foment rebellion.

The newspaper, a radical journal, often sought to foment rebellion.

The newspaper a radical journal often sought to foment rebellion.

Correct answer:

The newspaper, a radical journal, often sought to foment rebellion.

Explanation:

The phrase "a radical journal" is an appositive. It provides extra information in the sentence by renaming the noun "the newspaper," but remains apart from the sentence's structure. An appositive always needs to be set apart by commas when the removal of the its information would not change the meaning of the sentence. The only answer choice that does this is "The newspaper, a radical journal, often sought to foment rebellion."

Example Question #61 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

School placement a highly controversial issue has been a hotly debated topic in legislatures, school boards, and parent groups.

Possible Answers:

School placement a highly controversial issue having been

School placement, a highly controversial issue, has been

School placement, a highly controversial issue has been

School placement a highly controversial issue has been

School placement a highly controversial issue, has been

Correct answer:

School placement, a highly controversial issue, has been

Explanation:

The phrase "a highly controversial issue" is an interrupting phrase, or one that provides extra information while remaining apart from the structure of the sentence. That is, "a highly controversial issue" could be removed from the sentence and the sentence would still make sense. Interrupting phrases that don't provide necessary information need to be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. "School placement, a highly controversial issue, has been" is the only answer choice that does this, so it is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #71 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Many Americans unaware of the historical circumstances, did not understand the President's reference to the Revolutionary War.

Possible Answers:

Many Americans' unaware of the historical circumstances, 

Many Americans being unaware of the historical circumstances, 

Many Americans unaware of the historical circumstances, 

Many Americans, unaware of the historical circumstances, 

Many Americans unaware of the historical circumstances

Correct answer:

Many Americans, unaware of the historical circumstances, 

Explanation:

In the sentence, the phrase "unaware of the historical circumstances" is an interrupting phrase, or a phrase that provides information but is not a necessary component of the complete sentence. Such clauses always need to be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. Thus, "Many Americans, unaware of the historical circumstances," is the correct answer choice.

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