ACT English Section: Grammar and Usage Tips

The ACT English section evaluates your ability to identify and correct errors in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and usage. A strong performance in this section can significantly boost your overall ACT score. In this guide, we will provide you with essential grammar and usage tips to excel in the ACT English section.

1. Master Sentence Structure

Understanding sentence structure is crucial for identifying errors. Familiarize yourself with the following components of a sentence:

- Subject: The part of the sentence that performs the action.

- Verb: The action or state of being.

- Object: The recipient of the action.

- Modifiers: Words or phrases that provide additional information.

Ensure that each sentence you encounter in the ACT is well-structured, with clear subject-verb agreement and appropriate modifiers.

2. Subject-Verb Agreement

One of the most common errors in English is subject-verb agreement. Make sure that the subject and verb agree in number (singular or plural). For example:

- Incorrect: "The team are playing well."

- Correct: "The team is playing well."

3. Punctuation Rules

Understanding punctuation is crucial for the ACT. Pay attention to the correct usage of:

- Commas: Use commas to separate items in a list, set off introductory phrases, and separate independent clauses in compound sentences.

- Semicolons: Use semicolons to join closely related independent clauses.

- Colons: Use colons to introduce lists, explanations, or quotations.

4. Apostrophes

- Use apostrophes to indicate possession. For singular nouns, add 's (e.g., the dog's collar). For plural nouns ending in -s, add an apostrophe (e.g., the dogs' collars).

- Do not use apostrophes for plural nouns (e.g., CDs, not CD's).

5. Pronouns

- Ensure pronoun-antecedent agreement. The pronoun (he, she, it, they, etc.) should agree in number and gender with its antecedent (the noun it replaces).

- Correct: "Each student should bring their book."

6. Modifiers

- Misplaced modifiers can change the meaning of a sentence. Make sure modifiers are placed next to the word they modify.

- Incorrect: "She almost drove her kids to school every day."

- Correct: "She drove her kids to school almost every day."

7. Parallelism

- Parallel structure is essential in lists and comparisons. Items in a list or elements in a comparison should be grammatically parallel.

- Incorrect: "She enjoys swimming, hiking, and to ride a bike."

- Correct: "She enjoys swimming, hiking, and riding a bike."

8. Word Choice and Usage

- Be aware of commonly confused words, such as "there," "their," and "they're," or "its" and "it's."

- Make sure your word choice is appropriate for the context of the sentence.

9. Transitions and Cohesion

- Use transition words and phrases (e.g., however, therefore, in addition) to connect ideas and create a smooth flow in your writing.

10. Reading the Whole Sentence

- When identifying errors in the ACT English section, read the entire sentence, not just the underlined portion. This helps you understand the context and the role of the underlined part in the sentence.

11. Practice Regularly

- Consistent practice is the key to improving your grammar and usage skills. Work through ACT practice tests and review your mistakes.

12. Seek Feedback

- If possible, have a teacher or tutor review your writing and provide feedback. They can help you identify areas for improvement.

13. Stay Calm and Manage Time

- During the ACT, stay calm and manage your time wisely. If you encounter a challenging question, mark it for review and move on. Return to it if time permits.


Mastering grammar and usage is essential for success in the ACT English section. By understanding the rules of sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, punctuation, and word choice, and by practicing regularly, you can significantly improve your performance in this section. Remember that grammar is a skill that can be developed over time with consistent effort and practice.