ACT English: Sentence Structure Drill 1, Problem 1. Properly punctuating dependent clauses.
|ACT English||Sentence Structure|
|Product Type||ACT English|
|Sentence Structure||Sentence Fragments|
Subordination and Coordination
Some clauses are just way too dependent.
Unlike their independent cousins, they can't stand on their own as a complete sentence.
Sometimes this is because they don't have the basics of what makes a sentence complete,
i.e. at least one noun and one verb that work as a subject and predicate.
"Bill pukes," for example, is a very short, but totally independent, clause.
We've got the noun, "Bill," which works as the subject, and we've got the verb,
"pukes," which works as the predicate.
If someone tries to shove dependent clauses out the door on their own, they become what
are known as "fragments."
To help dependent clauses avoid this cruel fate, we have to make sure they stay attached
to a full sentence.
As one might suspect, since we spent so much time talking about this, the sentences in
question here have an example of a dependent clause turned fragment.
"Such as electrical, chemical, and industrial engineering," has no subject and no predicate.
It's a bunch of nouns, but no verbs telling us what they're doing, making the clause
Therefore, we know the period that separates the clause from the preceding sentence is
guilty of turning it into a fragment.
So, we can kick off our elimination process by scratching out choice (A), which claims
that the original sentences are correct.
(C) is super wonky, so it has to go as well. It places a period right smack dab in the
middle of "such" and "as," which doesn't make any sense at all.
These are two words that in general just don't like to be separated.
In this case, "such as" is actually functioning as a relative pronoun, which is a type of
pronoun that introduces a relative clause.
And what is a relative clause? It's a clause that modifies a word, phrase, or idea in the
So, in our sample sentence, "such as electrical, chemical, and industrial engineering" modifies
"majors in engineering" by specifying the kinds of majors we're talking about
Since relative clauses are always busy modifying something in the main clause, they're always
dependent on them.
If one of them is ever separated from the thing it's modifying, it's doomed to be
Choice (B) is a little bit better than (A) and (C), because it's not trying to turn
our dependent relative clause into a fragment by using a period.
However, like we said before, "such" and "as" are two words that usually hate to
be separated, even if it's with a comma. We've now narrowed our choices down to (D),
which correctly keeps the relative dependent clause connected to the main clause with a
comma, without splitting apart "such" and "as."
These dependent clauses may be needy, but they're nothing compared
to the codependent ones...