The ACT English test frequently includes questions about punctuation.  Commas, easily misused, are often included in one of the answer options given students.

ACT English Test Example 1

The example below is an ACT English test question from a previous test.

The astute reader will immediately recognize that in this sentence, there are two subjects: “The movie scene” and “a boy.”  Each is followed by a verb, which means these are two independent clauses.   Independent clauses can stand alone as sentences (with a period in between).  They can also be connected with a semi-colon, connected by use of a comma and coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so).  In certain cases, they can also be connected with a colon.

In this example, only one of those choices is offered, which makes the answer easy.  Option H correctly ends the first sentence with a period.

As written, the sentence is a comma splice.


ACT English Test Example 2

In this second example, in Question 46, the situation seems to be similar.  There are clearly two subjects in the sentence: “Bonnie Bassler” and “her face.”  The verb “leans” makes the first part an independent clause.  However, there is no verb following “her face.”  Instead, what follows is an adjectival phrase describing her face, so the second part of the sentence is not an independent clause.  Therefore, because a semi-colon is not needed to connect the independent clause and the phrase, Choice F is incorrect.  Instead, a comma is sufficient, as in Choice J.

Note that Choice H introduces the verb “is” to the answer, making the second part of the sentence an independent clause.  However, that answer only joins what would be two independent clauses with a comma, which is insufficient.  Choice G also adds “is” and a coordinating conjunction, but it lacks a comma and is therefore incorrect.  Choice J, which joins the phrase and independent clause with a comma, is correct.

The Knowledge Edge ACT Preparation program typically includes 10 hours of English prep.  Punctuation, grammar, usage and sentence structure are covered in detail to refresh students on details usually learned in middle school.  To check out additional ACT English Test tips, go to our blog and look at other posts under ACT Practice.  For more information on ACT prep at Knowledge Edge, click here.  If your student is interested in preparing for the February 2019 ACT tests, prep should start now!  Call 262-238-8867 to set up a schedule today!