6 Frequently Occurring Grammatical Mistakes in ACT English and Their Solutions

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6 Frequently Occurring Grammatical Mistakes in ACT English and Their Solutions

However, when it comes to being able to pass The ACT Dubai English section, and then being successful academically and professionally, knowing the standardized grammar rules and punctuation rules is crucial. Grammatical mistakes have become regular in this age that is dominated by social media as well as informal communication. There’s no authority that grades our DMs or scours TikTok for mistakes in subject-verb agreement. In reality, most of us do not need to know what an appositive expression means for it to be recognized by our colleagues. 

However, many students make the same errors in their ACT English section that makes it simpler to concentrate on a couple of important aspects. This article will cover six common mistakes and grammatical mistakes which students commit when they take the ACT Exam Test section, as well as strategies for avoiding them.

Overview of the ACT English Test

The ACT English section puts you in the editor’s position. Every one of five sections is followed by fifteen questions to test your proficiency in English (13-19 percent) and understanding of the standard conventions for English (51-56 percent) and the ability to evaluate the purpose and meaning of the writing (29-32 percent).

Common Mistakes on ACT English

It is important to know that the ACT English section requires you to be able to comprehend the concepts of punctuation and grammar in addition to the ability to critically read and analyze complicated sentences. The best method to develop these skills is to consistently go through material at the upper end of your proficiency and then study the most common punctuation and grammar rules. While this is great however, we do not always have the luxury of time.

We’ve collected suggestions to help you improve the quality of your ACT English score even if you don’t have time to become a reader and grammar expert. We’ll cover:

  1. Modifiers that are not in the right place
  2. Making the incorrect homophone
  3. Overusing commas
  4. Comma splices
  5. The misuse of plural pronouns
  6. Wordiness
  7. Fear of NO CHANGE

1. Misplaced Modifiers

Modifiers are phrases, words or clauses that give more information about a word in the sentence. A modifier may explain or define an adjective, verb or adjective to make it more precise or intriguing. For instance when you read “The green car drove down the road,” “green” is an adjective that describes the car.

Keep in mind that a phrase may be used as an alteration. For instance, consider this sentence, “Running down the street, he suddenly stopped.” In this instance, “running down the street” is a modifier which provides further details regarding the person “he.” The modifier phrase starts in the present tense “running” and describes the behavior by the individual.

Reading a sentence that contains an incorrect modifier can be a little similar to taking the wrong direction on a road trip. At some point, you realize you’re on the wrong track and have to return to the original route in order to get back on the right track. When a modifier appears located in an incorrect position within the sentence, it seems to alter the meaning of something and creates confusion. It may even alter what a phrase means, making it confusing or unreadable or cause a misunderstanding. humorous. Think about the following sentence…

Jack drove home.

Simple right? However, communication isn’t always that simple So we must use modifiers to provide more particulars. Let’s add some modifiers to our phrase…

After completing his final course, Jack quickly drove home to meet his girlfriend.

Let’s now identify the modifiers:

  1. “Having just finished his last class” is an expression that alters”Jack” into a subject “Jack.” This phrase describes what Jack did just before driving back home.
  2. “Quickly” is an adverb which modifies”drove” to mean “drove.” This adverb informs us of the way Jack returned home on his own, highlighting the speed at the speed he drove.

Modifiers typically are put close to the words they alter to make sure that the words are clear. If they’re not properly placed and confused, it can lead to confusion. Here are two examples of incorrectly placed modifiers:

The incorrect: “I found a wallet on the street with $50 inside.” Correct: “I found a wallet with $50 insideon the street.”

This sentence’s phrase (” with $50 inside“) implies that the street may have $50 inside, rather than the wallet. In placing the modifier nearer to its object (the wallet) the sentence will become more readable. Let’s look at a different instance…

The incorrect answer is: “I saw the Statue of Liberty flying to New York.”
The correct way to describe it is: “While flying to New York, I saw the Statue of Liberty.”

The word “flying to New York” in the sentence (” flying to New York“) implies it is possible that it was the Statue of Liberty that flew to New York rather than the speaker. It is possible to resolve this confusion by removing the adverbial phrasing (” flying to New York“) and putting it at the front, nearer to its topic (“I”).

Now that you’ve learned something about missing modifiers, let’s try it out. Locate the modifier you have lost and then correct the sentence.

The dog chased the mailman, tail wagging.

If you have read this passage and pictured a giddy mailman who was wagging his tail you’ll be able to see how incorrect modifiers create confusion. There are two options to fix the phrase: (1) The dog who was waving its tail chased the mailman (2) With a tail that wagged the dog chased after the mailman.

If you come across a wrongly placed modification on the ACT English exam, try to determine the modifier’s word or phrase as well as its subject. Move the modifier closer to the subject to help clarify.

2. The incorrect homophone

To understand what a homophone is, we can just look at its etymology–“homophone” comes from the Greek words “homos” meaning “same” and “phone” meaning “sound” or “voice.” Therefore, homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. For instance, the terms “blue” and “blew” are identical, yet have totally different meanings. This is an obvious example, however many homophones are more complicated. Here are a few common examples:

  1. their, there, they’re
  2. your, you’re
  3. its, it’s
  4. Two
  5. influence, effect
  6. Then,
  7. Hear here, here
  8. whose, who’s
  9. weather conditions, regardless of
  10. accept, with the exception of
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A lot of you are familiar with the distinctions between homophones, such as “their,” “there,” and “they’re.” However, students often misinterpret homophones as “its” and “it’s” or “affect” and “effect,” therefore let’s review these.

We’ve all heard of using an apostrophe to signify possession. If an item of footwear belongs to Jack and is his shoes. If a tire of the car popped it, we can tell “it’s tire popped,” is that right? Wrong. “It’s” is actually the contraction of “it is” while “its” is the possessive version that is “it.” Get it? Here’s a good example to make things clearer.

This is the cat’s toy. It’s their toy.
It’s cold outside. It’s cold outside.

One method to avoid using an incorrect version of it is to determine if you could replace the contraction by two terms (it can be). If you find”its” that can be replaced by “its” that can be substituted with “it is,” it’s not correct.

Let’s look at another frequent homophone that can cause students trouble–“affect” as opposed to “effect.” Now, the words might sound different based on the accent you use however they are homophones in the same sense. The distinction between the two lies in the fact that “affect” is typically a verb meaning to affect or cause a change to something, while “effect” is typically a noun which refers to the result or effect of an event or action.

“The new policy will affect the company’s profits.” (verb)
“The effect of the new policy on the company’s profits remains to be seen.” (noun)

In this case, “affect” is used as a verb to mean how the policy change will impact on the profits of the company. “Effect” is used as an adjective to describe the outcome or result from the new policy. It’s important to remember it is possible that “effect” can also be used as a verb which means to bring about or trigger something to occur However, this usage is more rare than the verb type.

One method to keep in mind the distinction between the two terms is to be aware the fact that “affect” starts with the letter “a,” which can be a reference to “action,” while “effect” begins at the end of “e,” which can be a reference to “end result.”

There isn’t a magic formula to solve every homophone issue. All you need is to know their distinctions and then remember them. Learn the commonly used homophones listed above, and pay attention whenever you read them, or when you need to write them down.

3. Overusing commas

The differences in the words “Let’s eat, Grandma!” and “Let’s eat Grandma!” ought to serve as a clear reminder of the significance of commas. However, despite their importance some students have received wrong advice about where to place a comma.

As young children, you might be taught to use the commas where you would need to pause in sentences. This is not the right way to go. Actually applying this method will result in a number of commas that are not needed. Consider this sample sentence taken from the ACT English section for example:

In 1948, two graduate students Norman Woodland and Bernard Silver were given the problem that had plagued retailers for many years trying to manage inventory.

    B) students, Norman Woodland and Bernard Silver
    C) students Norman Woodland and Bernard Silver
    D) students Norman Woodland and Bernard Silver


The best answer is C which means that the commas must be removed. In the case of the use of commas, if you’re not certain if you’re required to use one it’s probably best simply removing it. But, what happens when you need to use the punctuation mark?

To denote non-essential information from the remainder of a sentence, such as in:

The book, written in the 1800s, is still relevant today.

The example above can be written in the form “The book is still relevant today.” The statement “which was written in the 1800s” provides a fascinating, however non-essential detail. If the statement is vital, we’ll eliminate the commas like in the example below. In this example, “John Steinbeck” is an essential appositive that changes the name of “the author” and is not dissociated with the use of commas.

The writer John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Also, we must make use of commas if the sentence starts with an dependent clause or altering phrase. For a refresher dependent clauses are an expression that contains an object and verb, however it is not able to stand on its own as an entire sentence. So it is dependent on an autonomous clause.

We were inside because it was pouring rain.

In this case, ” because it was raining”is a dependent clause. It is not able to be used as a stand-alone sentence in an entire sentence. Contrarily, ” We stayed inside” is an independent clause due to the fact that it’s an entire sentence. In order to start the sentence with a dependent clause, we’d require the comma.

Since it was pouring rain and it was raining, we stayed inside.

Always put a comma at the conclusion of dependent sentences if it starts with a sentence. Here are a few examples that clarify the rule:

  1. “Because she was feeling tired, she decided to go to bed early.”
  2. “Although he had never been to Paris before, he was excited to explore the city.”
  3. “When I finish this project, I’ll have time to relax.”
  4. “If you don’t leave now, you’ll miss the train.”
  5. “Since it’s raining outside, we’ll have to stay indoors today.”

4. Comma splices

Yes, there’s another article on the use of commas. We aren’t cheating. Comma Splices are an everyday enough problem in the ACT English exam that they merit the space of their own. Comma splices are cause in the event that two separate clauses have been improperly punctuate with a colon. Independent clauses should be punctuate with a semicolon, comma or semicolon and the coordinating conjunction.

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Untrue: I went for an outing, and I saw a bird.
Untrue: I went for a walk and came across an animal.
The correct answer is: I went for an exercise and observed a bird.
True: I went for an exercise. I observed the bird.
True: I went for an outing; I saw a bird.

If you can see two separate clauses joined by an apostrophe, you’ve come up with a problem. Try adding a comma or a coordinating conjunction, or add the semicolon or period. For a way to make this a reality we’ll look at the UWorld College Prep’s ACT English practice questions:

The presents are put in a central place the participants decide the manner in which they’ll be picking the presents.

    B) Location and
    C) location,
    D) address

The first step is to look at the text from the opposite side of the underlined part. Adding “while” to an independent clause is a way of making it dependent. We discover the independent clause linked to the dependent clause by the use of a semicolon. This is not correct.

We know C is incorrect because it is impossible to connect two distinct clauses by using just a comma. Furthermore, D is probably wrong since the absence of punctuation could result in a run-on sentence. Thus, the answer has to be B–adding a comma, and the co-ordinated phrase “and.”

5. Wordiness

There may be an essay in your ACT English exam that contains inexplicably “fluff.” That means that you could have to omit an entire phrase or word, regardless of its grammatically sound. In the case of wordiness, the most common problem is redundancy. Redundancy is when two phrases or words are reiterating the same concept without adding anything else such as:

Untrue: Annually, Texas averages around 136 twisters each year.

The correct answer is: Texas averages about 130 twisters each year.

Because “annually” and “every year” refer to the same thing and by not removing either the significance of the sentence has not been altered. If you find an identical sentence within the ACT English section, simply choose the option that removes the redundant.

But not all wordiness originates from redundant words. There may be an entire sentence that has two words that aren’t necessarily redundant, but are very alike.

Untrue: The captain of the plane, who was also the individual on the plane who was responsible for the operation of the plane, was employed by American Airlines.

True: The captain of the plane was employ by American Airlines.

As we all know that the pilot of the plane is accountable for its operation and directing it’s operations, this is redundant, even though its concepts aren’t the same. Although there aren’t any grammatical issues with this sentence, it is important to get rid of its excessive words.

The final reason for wordiness is due to a lack of clarity. Utilizing the word economy isn’t related to grammar, but it is crucial in the context of clarity. The following example comes from the practice questions bank of UWorld:

The Maori refer to their people in the form of “people of the land.” The phrase can also be used to refer to the Maori people in general with respect to New Zealand as a whole.

    B) is a different way of referring to
    C) could also be a reference to
    D) comes the name of a

You should choose the answer that’s the most concise method of expressing an idea. If the answer that is shortest is grammatically correct, and it makes sense in the context, it’s appropriate. In the above example we can see that B and A are five and six words each. D is the one with the smallest amount of words, however it changes what the sentences mean. Thus, the answer has to be C since it only contains four words, while maintaining the clarity and meaning in the sentences.

6. Fear of NO CHANGE

Examinees tend to be hesitant to pick”NO CHANGE” as a result “NO CHANGE” option. It is because the ACT English section requires you to make corrections tomistakes which is why it could be a scam isn’t it? Wrong. The answer to NO CHANGE must not just be treated as a different answer option It is often the right choice often. Consider this real ACT English section test as an example:

The bar code that was first used consisted of four lines that were set at a specific distance from one another against black background.

    B) distances, so that each was distinct by one
    C) places, each distinct from the others.
    D) lengths of distances from each other


At first, you might believe that there is something wrong with one of the answers, causing you to doubt yourself and reevaluate your decision. If you’re prone to this type of thinking, instead of looking at NO CHANGE think about the underlined section in the A option. This will help you remember that NO CHANGE can be thought of like every other answer option.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes on ACT English

We’ve covered strategies to avoid the most common mistakes we’ve highlighted in the previous paragraphs, below are a few methods you can employ to avoid making the same mistakes generally.

Time management

You will have 45 minutes to complete 75 questions, which are distribute equally over 5 passages. You’ll have 36 seconds per question which is 9 minutes per passage, and the questions it accompanies. Of course, you’ll have to answer certain questions in a matter of seconds, while others require more time and time, but every question is worth the same amount of time and only the correct answers count towards the final grade.

So, spending longer on a challenging issue is usually a loss strategy. If, for instance, you are stuck, just go on with your life and return to it later. In case you are unsure, allow yourself enough time towards the end of the exam to answer the missing questions and check your answers. If you are taking exams in practice, you should allow yourself not more than 45 mins to ensure you can adjust to the stricter time limits.

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Utilize the elimination method

Eliminating answers that are not correct will leave you with a smaller number of options to think about and increases the chances of choosing the right answer. It also helps to save time. Instead of struggling to answer a challenging question, you’ll be able to quickly eliminate answers you are certain are not correct and move on to the next one then return to it when you are done. Use for instance this ACT English practice question from UWorld for an example:

White Elephant, Yankee Swap and Dirty Santa are all names for games at parties where fun gifts are trade.

    B) Elephant, Yankee Swap, and
    C) Elephant Yankee Swap, and
    D) Elephant Yankee Swap and

We can quickly determine that A is not correct since it puts an apostrophe after the conjunction, rather than prior to it. Both C and D do not use an apostrophe to separate the two items on the list. Thus the correct answer should be B. You can apply the process of elimination to answer any subject however you should be aware of the grammar rules of the question in order to eliminate mistakes, which leads us to the next point…

Learn the fundamentals

There are numerous websites and tools to help you master grammar but if you’re looking to get through an exam like the ACT English Test and you’re looking to pass, nothing can beat learning from an ACT English-focused resource. detailed explanations of answers will help you understand the reasoning behind each answer to determine whether it’s correct or not. This helps you to identify correct answers and improve your grammatical skills. Here’s a example of explanations of the answers to the question that we used earlier:

Rule Lists of items with more than two items are separate by commas.

To determine where the commas are Find the items on the list.

Tip: Even though the Oxford comma technically is not require, the ACT always incorporates it.

Three different names of the game are provided: “White Elephant,” “Yankee Swap,” and “Dirty Santa.” Commas must be place between the first and the second item so they are all clearly identify. The only correct answer that includes placement of commas can be White Elephant, Yankee Swap along with Dirty Santa.

(Choice A) This answer incorrectly uses a comma following”and,” which is the word that begins with “and” instead of before it, which makes “and” seem like part of the list rather than the word that connects the two other items.

(Choices C and D) Neither of these answers use a comma to divide the two items in the list, which makes it appear as if “White Elephant Yankee Swap” is a single name rather than two. But, each item typically has a parallel arrangement, and the final one has an adjectival “Dirty” followed by a noun “Santa.” Therefore, it makes sense that the other two items are two words that are adjectives (ex. “White” or “Yankee” followed by the Noun (“Elephant” as well as “Swap”).

Things to be aware of:
Commas indicate the place where an item’s list starts and ends, while the next item starts. In this case it is use to separate the two last items of the list.

Use ACT English Practice Exercises

The practice of simulated time as well as the format and the difficulty of the ACT English section is the best way to practice for the test. Consider this in terms of if you feel like you are doing the exact thing and the exam will be similar to practice. If you’re trying to get better in soccer, you are playing soccer. If you’re looking to increase the quality of your ACT English section results, you will practice using questions that are at or above the difficulty of the exam.

Fortunately the ACT offers real ACT English test questions at its site. This is a great resource to begin, however you’ll need to do a lot of practice to increase the chances of getting an excellent score.

UWorld College Prep offers 2650+ exam-like, test-like questions that cover all sections that make up the ACT. The questions are develop by our expert team in-house of subject-matter specialists to ensure that they meet or exceed the level of exam difficulty. Utilize these questions to create unlimited, custom-designed test questions or full-length mocks of the exam then our performance monitoring technology will give you a report on areas in need of improvement. Find out more about the top preparation exam for taking the ACT Exam.

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In the ACT English section, each question is important. By focusing on the most frequent mistakes and understanding how you can avoid these, you’ll be able to dramatically increase the chances of scoring a top score. However, don’t stop there. you’ll need to know:

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