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ACT Sentence Sense
Sentence Sense Questions on ACT Sentence sense questions test your understanding of how words are combined to form clear, correct, and complete sentences. To be a complete, a sentence must have a subject, a verb, and a complete thought. – Clause: a group of words that contains both a subject and a verb. Jan runs everyday. – Independent Clause: a complete sentence Matt rides his bike to the park. – Dependent Clause: (fragment) a phrase that cannot stand alone and “depends” on another clause for meaning/completion. after Tim closes the door.
Types of Sentence Sense Questions 1.Sentence Structure: test your ability to recognize whether a sentence expresses a complete thought or whether too many thoughts are run together incorrectly (run-ons). 2.Consistency: these questions require you to understand how non-underlined verbs and pronouns dictate the proper form of an underlined verb or pronoun. 3.Word Order: test your ability to recognize difficult phrase combination that lead to illogical statements.
Sentence Structure Rules 1.A sentence must contain one independent clause. 2.The –ing form of a verb cannot be used without a helping verb. Let’s look at some more examples…
Sentence Structure#1: Fragments Fragment: Although rain is predicted for tonight. Sentence: Although rain is predicted for tonight, we still plan to go camping. Fragment: That Samantha will play goalie. Sentence: The coach said that Samantha will play goalie.
Sentence Structure#1: Run-ons Run-on: Wayne planned his time carefully, he finished his term paper a day early. Right: Wayne planned his time carefully, so he finished his term paper a day early. Right: Wayne planned his time carefully; he finished his term paper a day early. Right: Wayne planned his time carefully. He finished his term paper a day early. Right: Because Wayne planned his time carefully, he finished his term paper early.
Sentence Structure Practice Dependent Clause (Fragments): Umbrellas, which people often forget in public places, other portable items such as cameras and cell phones. a.NO CHANGE b.Umbrellas, people often forget them in public places, and in addition c.People, who often forget umbrellas in public places, along with d.People often forget umbrellas in public places, along with
Sentence Structure #2: -ING Fragment: Lucinda and I going to the same college. Sentence: Lucinda and I will be going to the same college. Fragment: Deb playing in the band concert tonight. Sentence: Deb will be playing in the band concert tonight.
Sentence Structure Practice Verb ending in –ING: AS they prepared the dinner, Cindy and Lauren finding, to their dismay, that they had forgotten to purchase two ingredients. a.NO CHANGE b.Lauren, they found, c.Lauren found, d.Lauren, who found
Consistency Rule #1 Verb Tense Consistency: The underlined verb tense in a sentence must match the other verb tenses in that sentence. Wrong: Before I can pack my suitcase, I still needed to do some shopping. Right: Before I can pack my suitcase, I still need to do some shopping.
Consistency Practice Verb Tense Agreement: Before he moved to Boston, the Alabama native hardly imagines how cold a New England winter actually could be. a.NO CHANGE b.could have been imagining c.could have imagined d.will imagine
Consistency Rule #2 Pronoun Consistency: When an underlined segment includes a pronoun make sure it clearly refers to another noun or pronoun in the sentence. Wrong: A Politician should do everything they can to improve the lives of their constituents. Right: Politicians should do everything they can to improve the lives of their constituents.
Consistency Rule #2 Correct the verb and pronoun tense problems: Quite a bit of preparation is needed for a camping trip. You must make sure that all your equipment- tent, sleeping bags, lanterns, and cookware-is in good condition. Someone has to plan the menu and decided when to do the shopping. Will you shop in advance to buy everything you need before one leaves home, packing the meat and dairy products in a cooler? Or will one drive to the campground first and purchase all of the food locally? Time is another thing to think about. It was easier to choose a spot and set up tents in daylight than it is in the dark
Consistency Practice Pronoun Agreement: While the librarian taught us some important research skills that go into preparing a term paper, very few students actually applied it. a.NO CHANGE b.students actually applied them. c.of the students, in fact, actually applied it. d.students actually applied what it was they actually had learned.
Word Order Modifiers: a word or group of words that provide information about another word in the sentence. – Modifiers need to be placed close to the word they are modifying. – Wrong: Practicing diligently over the course of several months, the audience was stunned by the excellent quality of the school band. – Right: The audience was stunned by the excellent quality of the school band, which had practiced diligently over the course of several months.
Word Order Rule A sentence that violates the word order rule usually sounds confusing as if the sentence is scrambled: Wrong: Suddenly, when the baseball, holding the expensive crystal glassware, was knocked to the floor, the high shelf came crashing through the window. Right: The high shelf holding the expensive crystal glassware was knocked to the floor when the baseball came suddenly crashing through the window.
Word Order Practice Make sure the modifiers are next to the word they are modifying: Exhausted after a stressful day at work, the fender bender during the evening rush hour only added to Susan’s frustration. a.NO CHANGE b.frustration only increased for Susan as a result of the fender bender during the evening rush hour c.the evening rush hour led to a fender bender that only increased Susan’s frustration d.Susan became even more frustrated after the fender bender during the evening rush hour.
Sentence Sense Answer Traps Dependent Clauses: Watch for words that introduce dependent clauses and make sure there is an independent clause in the sentence to support it. Words that introduce dependent clauses: after sincewhich although thatwhile because thoughwho Beforeunlesswhoever itwhereas
Sentence Sense Answer Traps Verbs ending in -ING: the test often uses a verb ending in -ing without a helping verb. – Wrong: Sammy going to the store to buy some milk for baking. – Right: Sammy was going to the store to buy some milk for baking.
Sentence Sense Answer Traps Underlined Sentences: When an entire sentence is underlined, occasionally, the NO CHANGE option is correct. USUALLY a change will need to be made due to incorrect word order or the sentence will need to be OMITTED because it does not fit with the paragraph.