SAT Writing : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Comma Splices

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #31 : 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.

A rigorous national curriculum should encompass not only excellent preparation in reading and mathematics but also so-called extracurricular activities such as sports, arts, and music, studies have shown that the most successful people in life are often those with divergent, varied interests. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

such as

and music,

not only

divergent,

Correct answer:

and music,

Explanation:

Here we have a comma splice: two independent clauses that are incorrectly separated by a comma and should instead be punctuated by either a comma with a conjunction or a semicolon. Written correctly, this sentence would read: “A rigorous national curriculum should encompass not only excellent preparation in reading and mathematics but also so-called extracurricular activities such as sports, arts, and music; studies have shown that the most successful people in life are often those with divergent, varied interests.” “The list “sports, arts, and music” is correctly punctuated with commas, as are the two adjectives that precede “interests.”

Example Question #32 : 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.

Prison reform is one issue the senator is expected to address in his upcoming bill, the bill would include long awaited laws to preserve inmates’ basic human rights. No error

Possible Answers:

bill,

No error

long awaited laws

inmates’

is one issue the senator is expected to address

Correct answer:

bill,

Explanation:

Here we have a comma splice: two independent clauses that are incorrectly separated by a comma and should instead be punctuated by either a comma with a conjunction or a semicolon. Written correctly, this sentence would read: “Prison reform is one issue the senator is expected to address in his upcoming bill; the bill would include long-awaited laws to preserve inmates’ basic human rights.” The apostrophe is correctly forming a plural possessive.

Example Question #33 : 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.

Ever since he learned how to speak, my little brother has been asking for a dog, my parents think he should wait until he’s old enough to take care of a pet, though. No error

Possible Answers:

dog,

until he’s old enough

pet,

No error

speak,

Correct answer:

dog,

Explanation:

This is another comma splice. In other words, we have two independent clauses that are incorrectly separated by a comma and should instead be punctuated by either a comma with a conjunction or a semicolon. The first and last commas in this sentence are both correct, since they separate dependent clauses from the main independent clause. The correct sentence is “Ever since he learned how to speak, my little brother has been asking for a dog, my parents think he should wait until he’s old enough to take care of a pet, though.”

Example Question #34 : 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.

With drought threatening crops, livestock, and landscaping across the state, California had no choice but to enact water restrictions, residents complained, but most understood the necessity of the measures. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

complained,

restrictions,

state,

the necessity of the measures.

Correct answer:

restrictions,

Explanation:

Here is another comma splice. We have two independent clauses (“With drought threatening crops, livestock, and landscaping across the state, California had no choice but to enact water restrictions” and “residents complained, but most understood the necessity of the measures”) that are incorrectly separated by a comma and should instead be punctuated by either a comma with a conjunction or a semicolon. The list is correctly punctuated with commas.

Example Question #35 : 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.

As most people learn in elementary school, butterflies undergo astounding metamorphoses in their short lifetimes, they begin as larvae and quickly transform into pupae and then beautiful, multicolored adults. No error

Possible Answers:

beautiful, multicolored

elementary school,

metamorphoses

No error

lifetimes,

Correct answer:

lifetimes,

Explanation:

This is another comma splice. In other words, we have two independent clauses that are incorrectly separated by a comma and should instead be punctuated by either a comma with a conjunction or a semicolon. The first and last commas in this sentence are both correct: The first one separates the dependent from the independent clause, and the last one separates two adjectives that are modifying the same noun. they separate dependent clauses from the main independent clause. The correctly punctuated sentence is “As most people learn in elementary school, butterflies undergo astounding metamorphoses in their short lifetimes; they begin as larvae and quickly transform into pupae and then beautiful, multicolored adults.”

Example Question #36 : 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.

Contrary to popular belief, chicken soup does not prevent one from contracting the common cold, it simply strengthens the immune system by providing nutrition. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

by providing

prevent one from

common cold,

Contrary to popular belief,

Correct answer:

common cold,

Explanation:

A comma correctly separates a dependent clause (“Contrary to popular belief”) from an independent clause (“chicken soup does not prevent one from contracting the common cold”), but it incorrectly separates two independent clauses (“chicken soup does not prevent one from contracting the common cold” and “it simply strengthens the immune system by providing nutrition”). This is called a comma splice, and it can be fixed by replacing the comma with a semicolon.

Example Question #37 : 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 manager says it’s always better to apologize than to argue with our customers, they’re not always right, but it’s our job to pretend they are. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

right,

customers,

they’re not

it’s

Correct answer:

customers,

Explanation:

Here we have a comma splice: two independent clauses that are incorrectly separated by a comma. Two independent clauses in the same sentence must be punctuated by either a comma with a conjunction or a semicolon. Correctly punctuated, this sentence would read: “My manager says it’s always better to apologize than to argue with our customers; they’re not always right, but it’s our job to pretend they are.”

Example Question #31 : 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.

Jeremiah always tried to avoid cleaning the toilets, sometimes he would volunteer to do other chores instead, like washing the dishes. No error

Possible Answers:

instead, like

No error

toilets, sometimes

other

avoid

Correct answer:

toilets, sometimes

Explanation:

This sentence features two independent clauses separated by a comma, otherwise known as a comma splice. The sentence needs to be separated by a conjunction like "and" or "so," or by a punctuation mark that divides the sentence into two, like a period or a semicolon.

Example Question #1062 : Identifying Sentence Errors

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

The incompetent plumber did not know the source of the problem, he wasted an hour of my day while he called his supervisor in hopes of hearing a second, wiser opinionNo error

Possible Answers:

source

No error

a second, wiser

problem, he

The incompetent plumber

Correct answer:

problem, he

Explanation:

This is a comma splice. The two clauses in this sentence are both independent clauses, meaning each could stand on its own as a full sentence. For that reason, they must be joined by either a semicolon or a comma WITH a conjunction.

Example Question #1063 : Identifying Sentence Errors

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

Despite its complexities, the bill should lead to a vastly improved living standard for the population, it will be happy and wealthy. No error

Possible Answers:

should lead

its

population, it will

vastly improved living standard

No error

Correct answer:

population, it will

Explanation:

Because the comma after "population" separates two independent clauses, there must be a coordinating conjunction after the comma. Alternatively, a semicolon could be inserted in lieu of the comma. Using just a single comma to join two independent clauses creates a comma splice. 

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