SAT Writing : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas for Dependent Clauses

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store varsity tutors amazon store varsity tutors ibooks store

Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

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 managers decided to make a change for no particular reason which stressed their underlings.

Possible Answers:

The managers decided to make a change for no particular reason, which stressed their underlings.

The managers decided to make a change, for no particular reason which stressed their underlings.

The managers decided to make a change for no particular reason which stressed their underlings.

The managers decided to make a change for no particular reason which stressed, their underlings.

The managers, decided to make a change, for no particular reason which stressed their underlings.

Correct answer:

The managers decided to make a change for no particular reason, which stressed their underlings.

Explanation:

The phrase "which stressed their underlings" is a dependent clause, or a clause that relies on the main body of the sentence for its full meaning. Any dependent clause must be set apart from the main body of the sentence by a comma. The answer choice that appropriately uses such a comma is "The managers decided to make a change for no particular reason, which stressed their underlings."

Example Question #311 : 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.

The rise of violence throughout the decade has been the subject of speculation, by scholars.

Possible Answers:

speculation by scholars.

speculation, of scholars.

speculation by, scholars.

speculation by scholar's.

speculation, by scholars.

Correct answer:

speculation by scholars.

Explanation:

The phrase underlined at the end of the sentence is one whole and complete phrase. Thus, the use of a comma anywhere in the phrase is grammatically incorrect. "Speculation by scholars" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #11 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The budding writer was confident in her ability to write plays and poems but she wasn't sure she would be able to write a novel.

Possible Answers:

but she

a novel

budding

sure she

No error

Correct answer:

but she

Explanation:

Since "but she wasn't sure she would be able to write a novel" is a dependent clause (composed of a conjunction, a subject, and a verb), there needs to be a comma before the conjunction "but" in order to seperate it from the independent clause.

Example Question #1501 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

In the intervening years, the old man rarely talked to his children as the pain was too much for him to bear.

Possible Answers:

rarely talked to his children, as the pain too much for him to bear.

rarely talked to his children, as the pain was too much for him to bear.

rarely talking to his children, as the pain was too much for him to bear.

rarely talked to his children as the pain was too much for him to bear.

rarely talking to his children as pain was bearing too much for him.

Correct answer:

rarely talked to his children, as the pain was too much for him to bear.

Explanation:

The underlined portion of the sentence contains a small punctuation problem. Specifically, the phrase "as the pain was too much to bear," is a phrase that explains the sentence, but is not necessary to its construction. All such phrases need a comma to separate them from the body of the sentence. "Rarely talked to his children as the pain was too much for him to bear," is the best answer choice.

Example Question #11 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

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.

When you talk to your mother like, that you bring shame on the whole family.

Possible Answers:

When you talk to your mother like, that you bring shame on the whole family.

When you talk to your mother like that, you bring shame on the whole family.

When, you talk to your mother like that, you bring shame on the whole family.

When you talk to your mother like that you bring shame on, the whole family.

When you talk to your mother like that you bring shame on the whole, family.

Correct answer:

When you talk to your mother like that, you bring shame on the whole family.

Explanation:

A dependent clause, or a clause which cannot stand on its own, must be separated from the main clause in a sentence by a comma. The full dependent clause in the example sentence is the introductory phrase "When you talk to your mother like that," not "when you talk to your mother like." Thus, the comma attempting to separate the introductory clause in the sentence above actually creates a comma splice error. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is, "When you talk to your mother like that, you bring shame on the whole family."

Example Question #13 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

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.

He's always bothering his classmates it's just what he does.

Possible Answers:

He's always bothering, his classmates it's just what he does.

He's always bothering his classmates it's just what he does.

He's always bothering his classmates it's, just, what he does.

He's always bothering, his classmates, it's just what he does.

He's always bothering his classmates, it's just what he does.

Correct answer:

He's always bothering his classmates, it's just what he does.

Explanation:

A dependent clause, or a clause which cannot stand on its own, must be separated from the independent clause in a sentence by a comma. In the example sentence "it's just what he does" is a dependent clause that explains the main clause, and thus must be separated from the main clause with a comma.

Example Question #13 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

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 actor was quite exhausted and ready to go home, as his performance had been incredibly long.

Possible Answers:

The actor was, quite, exhausted and ready to go home, as his performance had been incredibly long.

The actor was quite exhausted and ready to go home as, his performance, had been incredibly long.

The actor was quite exhausted and ready to go home. As his performance had been incredibly long.

The actor, was quite exhausted and ready to go home as his performance had been incredibly long.

The actor was quite exhausted and ready to go home, as his performance had been incredibly long.

Correct answer:

The actor was quite exhausted and ready to go home, as his performance had been incredibly long.

Explanation:

The example sentence is a compound sentence, one that joins two complete thoughts together to show their connection to one another. Here, the conjunction "as" must be preceded by a comma. The correct answer choice is the one which reproduces the example sentence as written.

Example Question #14 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

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. Note that it is incorrect to use a semicolon and a coordinating conjunction together.

Boxers with brittle hands are at a huge disadvantage in their careers because they are very likely to injure themselves in training. 

Possible Answers:

Boxers, with brittle hands, are at a huge disadvantage in their careers, because they are, very likely, to injure themselves in training. 

Boxers with brittle hands are at a huge disadvantage in their careers because they are very likely to injure themselves in training. 

Boxers with brittle hands are at a huge disadvantage in their careers, because, they are very likely to injure themselves in training. 

Boxers with brittle hands are at a huge disadvantage in their careers, because they are very likely to injure themselves in training. 

Boxers with brittle hands are at a huge disadvantage in their careers; because they are very likely to injure themselves in training. 

Correct answer:

Boxers with brittle hands are at a huge disadvantage in their careers, because they are very likely to injure themselves in training. 

Explanation:

The example sentence is a compound sentence, one which connects two independent clauses together in one sentence to show that they are connected ideas. The coordinating conjunction "because," as used in the example sentence, necessitates a comma. 

Example Question #12 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

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 many species of cacti are native to the Sonoran desert only one variety has distinctive bright blue flowers.

Possible Answers:

Although many species of cacti are native to the Sonoran desert; only one variety has distinctive bright blue flowers.

Although many species of cacti are native to the Sonoran desert, only one variety has distinctive bright blue flowers.

Although, many species of cacti are native to the Sonoran desert only one variety has distinctive bright blue flowers.

Although many species of cacti are native to the Sonoran desert only one variety has distinctive bright blue flowers.

Although, many species of cacti are native to the Sonoran desert, only one variety has distinctive bright blue flowers.

Correct answer:

Although many species of cacti are native to the Sonoran desert, only one variety has distinctive bright blue flowers.

Explanation:

“Although many species of cacti are native to the Sonoran desert” is a dependent clause, and “only one variety has distinctive bright blue flowers” is an independent clause. Dependent clauses must be separated from independent clauses with commas.

Example Question #13 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Commas For Dependent Clauses

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.

As soon as my sister leaves the house I’m going to have to frost the cake for her surprise party.

Possible Answers:

As soon as my sister leaves the house I’m going to have to frost the cake for her surprise party.

As soon as my sister leaves the house; I’m going to have to frost the cake for her surprise party.

As soon as: my sister leaves the house I’m going to have to frost the cake for her surprise party.

As soon as: my sister leaves the house, I’m going to have to frost the cake for her surprise party.

As soon as my sister leaves the house, I’m going to have to frost the cake for her surprise party.

Correct answer:

As soon as my sister leaves the house, I’m going to have to frost the cake for her surprise party.

Explanation:

“As soon as my sister leaves the house” is a dependent clause, and “I’m going to have to frost the cake for her surprise party” is an independent clause. Dependent clauses must always be separated from independent clauses with commas. 

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors