Episode 19

Master These 5 Comma Rules and Raise Your ACT Score


June 18th, 2020

18 mins 6 secs

Season 1

Your Hosts

About this Episode

There are five key comma rules you must know to score well in ACT English.

1. Use a comma to separate main clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction. The common coordinating conjunctions are and, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet. A main clause is one that has both a subject (s) and a verb (v).

EX: We went to the store, and we spent our money.
S/V, and S/V.

-Some memorize the conjunctions with the word FAN BOYS

2. Set off words, phrases, and clauses that are not needed (nonessential). Use commas around nonessential, transitional, or contrasting information. Non-restrictive elements function much like appositives.

3 Examples Below:

  1. Intense preparation, then, is known to produce higher test scores. (transitional)
  2. Robert Frost, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is known for his poem “Birches.” (nonessential)
  3. Robert Kurson, not Stephen King, is my favorite author. (contrasting)

3. Use a comma after an introductory phrase, clause, and adverb. Short introductory prepositional phrases do not require commas unless needed for clarity.
3 Examples Below:

  1. To be able to compete on the collegiate level, many high school athletes practice their sport all year.
  2. If you are counting on a college scholarship, pay attention to your grades, class rank, community service, and standardized test scores.
  3. Occasionally, the person actually responsible for the vandalism will be caught and pay the damage.

4. A series can be defined as three or more words, phrases, or clauses in a sentence that have the same grammatical rank.
EX: I am taking biology, calculus and history.

-The comma before the word _and _is optional.

5. Use commas to separate adjectives in a series that describe the same word.
EX: The old, blue shirt was worn today.
EX: The dark blue shirt was worn today. The second sentence does not have a comma between dark and blue because dark describes blue; whereas, in the first sentence old does not describe blue.

-Can you replace the comma with the word and?
-Can you reverse the words?

Pages 41-49 of Chad Cargill's ACT prep book provides these rules, examples, exercises, and model ACT questions.

I’d love to connect with you and keep you posted on upcoming episodes and resources. For a free downloadable pdf What Scholarship Committees Look for and How to Win Them, go to scholarships.chadcargill.com, and get your guide now.

For a free downloadable pdf of Key Things You Must Know on Test Day, go to [testday.chadcargill.com](testday.chadcargill.com), and get your guide now.

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