SAT Writing : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

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

Asking the kids for help filling the water balloons proved to be a bad idea, they couldn't resist the urge to throw them at each other and the floor was quickly covered in water. No error

Possible Answers:

idea, they

No error

proved

other and

for help

Correct answer:

idea, they

Explanation:

This sentence contains a comma splice. Two independent clauses, like the two in the example, cannot be separated by just a comma. Instead, they should be linked using a period, a semicolon, or a comma with a conjunction.

Example Question #11 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Commas

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

The toughest subject for me has always been Spanish, I have struggled mightily to achieve any fluency in any language other than EnglishNo error

Possible Answers:

Spanish, I

for me 

have struggled mightily

in any language other than English

No error

Correct answer:

Spanish, I

Explanation:

This sentence features a common error of punctuation known as a comma splice. Both clauses, separated here by a comma, are independent. Independent clauses can be separated by a semicolon, a period, or a comma with a conjunction after it. Any of those three options would fix the comma splice error in this sentence, and all three options are equally grammatically correct in this instance.

Example Question #13 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

Select the underlined portion of the sentence that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Molly's sister's apartment is quite spacious, the high ceilings give it a very comfortable feel. No error

Possible Answers:

sister's

No error

it

Molly's

spacious, the

Correct answer:

spacious, the

Explanation:

This is an example of comma splice. The two clauses (separated here by a comma) are both independent clauses (each is a grammatically complete clause that could stand alone as a full sentence). If they are linked with a comma and no conjunction, as in this example, it is a comma splice. They should be linked with a comma and a conjunction, a period, or a semicolon.

Example Question #14 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

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

It is nearly dawn, there is simply no way we will make it to Minnesota before noon. No error

Possible Answers:

simply

No error

dawn,

it is

noon.

Correct answer:

dawn,

Explanation:

There are several acceptable ways to separate independent clauses, but simply using a single comma by itself is not one of them. To do so is to make an error known as the comma splice. The sentence above contains such a splice, and it should be corrected. The options to make this correction would be to add a coordinating conjunction after the comma, replace the comma with a period, or replace the comma with a semicolon.

Example Question #15 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

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

The brilliant surgeon had steady hands, she was an incredible pool player in her youthNo error

Possible Answers:

hands,

No error

she

her youth

The brilliant surgeon

Correct answer:

hands,

Explanation:

There are several acceptable ways to separate independent clauses, but simply using a single comma by itself is not one of them. To do so creates an error known as the comma splice. The sentence above features a comma splice after "hands." The first clause, "the brilliant surgeon had steady hands," is a grammatically complete independent clause, as is the second clause, "she was an incredible pool player." The options for separating these two clauses are to place a period, a semicolon, or a coordinating conjunction and a comma between them. All three of these options are equally grammatically correct, whichever you choose is a matter of style.

Example Question #11 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Commas

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

I have traveled all over the world, England is my favorite place. No error

Possible Answers:

favorite

over

No error

I have

world, England 

Correct answer:

world, England 

Explanation:

There are several acceptable ways to separate independent clauses, but simply using a single comma by itself is not one of them. That is an error known as the comma splice. The three options available to correct such an error are a period, a conjunction with a comma, or a semicolon. These three options are all equally grammatically correct, which one you choose is a matter of style. The example sentence contains two independent clauses, so rather than a comma after "world" one of those three options needs to be inserted.

Example Question #17 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

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

My friend Matt is an incredible computer programmer, my friend Sally is the best dancer I know. No error

Possible Answers:

 I know.

the best

programmer, my

no error

My friend Matt

Correct answer:

programmer, my

Explanation:

Both clauses in the example sentence are independent clauses (grammatically complete clauses that could stand on their own as sentences). When two independent clauses are connected into one sentence it is called a compound sentence. The correct ways to punctuate compound sentences are either a conjunction and a comma or a semicolon. The other option in this instance would be to simply replace the comma with a period.

Example Question #18 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

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

There are a lot of problems with the new dinosaur movie, it is riddled with factual inaccuracies. No error

Possible Answers:

inaccuracies.

movie, it

riddled

There are

No error

Correct answer:

movie, it

Explanation:

There are several acceptable ways to separate independent clauses, but simply using a single comma by itself is not one of them. To do so creates an error known as the comma splice. The example sentence, by using a comma instead of a period, coordinating conjunction and a comma, or a semicolon, contains such an error.

Example Question #19 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

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

Jordan had a terrifying dream in which he was attacked by piranhas, he decided to skip his swimming lesson the following dayNo error

Possible Answers:

the following day

No error

had

piranhas, he

in which

Correct answer:

piranhas, he

Explanation:

This is an example of a comma splice. The two clauses here are both independent clauses, meaning each could stand on its own as a full sentence. Commas cannot be used to separate such clauses. A semicolon would be appropriate here. Another alternative would be to add a conjunction after the comma, such as "...attacked by piranhas, so he decided..."

Example Question #20 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

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

Laura wanted to attend her high school's ten-year reunion, it was only the possibility of seeing her ex-boyfriend that made her hesistate. No error

Possible Answers:

possibility of

her high school's

No error

attend

reunion, it

Correct answer:

reunion, it

Explanation:

The error in this sentence is that two independent clauses ("Laura wanted to attend her high school's ten-year reunion" and "it was only the possibility of seeing her ex-boyfriend that made her hesitate") are being joined by a comma, which is an incorrect use of a comma. Since independent clauses could be seperate sentences, there needs to be a stronger form of punctuation than a comma to join them, such a semicolon, a period, or a coordinating conjunction followed by a comma. 

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