ACT English: Grammar and Punctuation Review

The ACT English section is a critical part of the ACT exam, and it assesses your grammar and punctuation skills. To excel in this section, you need a solid understanding of English grammar rules and punctuation. In this article, we'll provide a comprehensive review of key grammar and punctuation concepts that will help you perform well in the ACT English section.

Grammar Review

1. Subject-Verb Agreement

Ensure that the subject and verb in a sentence agree in number (singular or plural). For example, "He works" is correct, but "He work" is not.

2. Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

Make sure pronouns agree in gender and number with their antecedents. For instance, "Each student should bring their textbook" is incorrect because "each student" is singular, and "their" is plural. It should be "his or her textbook."

3. Verb Tense

Use the appropriate verb tense to convey the correct timeframe. For example, "She will be studying" indicates future tense, while "She was studying" indicates past tense.

4. Run-On Sentences and Fragments

Avoid run-on sentences (sentences with no punctuation or conjunctions where needed) and sentence fragments (incomplete sentences). Correct these issues by adding punctuation or combining ideas appropriately.

5. Parallel Structure

Use parallel structure when listing items in a sentence. For example, "She likes swimming, hiking, and to jog" should be "She likes swimming, hiking, and jogging."

6. Modifiers

Ensure that modifiers (words that describe or limit other words) are correctly placed. Misplaced modifiers can lead to confusion. For example, "Quickly, she ate the pizza" implies she ate the pizza quickly, while "She quickly ate the pizza" means she ate the pizza quickly.

7. Pronoun Usage

Use pronouns accurately, making sure it's clear which noun they refer to. Avoid using pronouns in a way that creates ambiguity.

Punctuation Review

1. Commas

- Use commas to separate items in a list. For example, "I bought apples, bananas, and grapes."

- Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet) in a compound sentence. For instance, "I studied, but I still need to review."

- Use a comma to set off introductory elements. "After the movie, we went for ice cream."

2. Semicolons

Use semicolons to join two closely related independent clauses (complete sentences). For example, "She wanted to visit Paris; I preferred Rome."

3. Colons

Colons are used to introduce lists, explanations, or elaborations. For instance, "The ingredients for the cake are: flour, sugar, and eggs."

4. Apostrophes

Use apostrophes to show possession or contraction. For possession, "The dog's collar is red." For contractions, "It's a beautiful day."

5. Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks to enclose direct speech or quotations. For example, She said, "I'll be there at 3 o'clock."

6. Dashes

Dashes can be used to set off a phrase that adds emphasis or information to the main clause. For example, "She loves the outdoors—hiking, camping, and fishing."

Common ACT English Questions

The ACT English section typically includes various question types, such as sentence structure, punctuation, and rhetorical skills. Here are common question formats:

1. Add/Delete: 

You'll be asked whether a particular sentence or phrase should be added or deleted to improve the passage's clarity or flow.

2. Transitions: 

Questions about the use of transitional words or phrases to enhance the relationship between sentences or ideas.

3. Sentence Placement: 

Determine where a sentence would best fit within a paragraph.

4. Rhetorical Skills: 

Evaluate the effectiveness of a sentence in achieving a specific purpose, such as maintaining the passage's tone or style.

5. Grammar and Punctuation: 

Correct grammatical errors, such as subject-verb agreement, pronoun usage, or punctuation.

6. Conciseness and Clarity: 

Choose the sentence that is the most concise and clear while retaining all essential information.

Practice and Preparation

To excel in the ACT English section, practice is key. Use official ACT practice tests, review grammar and punctuation rules, and take advantage of test prep resources and courses. Familiarize yourself with the question formats and practice time management.

Additionally, consider seeking help from teachers, tutors, or study partners. They can provide valuable feedback and explanations for questions you find challenging.

Remember that the ACT English section is not only about knowing the rules but also about applying them in the context of the passage. Be sure to read passages carefully and consider the broader context when making decisions.

By hning your grammar and punctuation skills and practicing effectively, you can boost your confidence and success in the ACT English section. Good luck!