ACT English 1.1 Sentence Structure

ACT English: Sentence Structure Drill 1, Problem 1. Properly punctuating dependent clauses. 

ACT EnglishSentence Structure
LanguageEnglish Language
Product TypeACT English
Sentence StructureSentence Fragments
Subordination and Coordination

Transcript

00:31

Some clauses are just way too dependent.

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Unlike their independent cousins, they can't stand on their own as a complete sentence.

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Sometimes this is because they don't have the basics of what makes a sentence complete,

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i.e. at least one noun and one verb that work as a subject and predicate.

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"Bill pukes," for example, is a very short, but totally independent, clause.

00:55

We've got the noun, "Bill," which works as the subject, and we've got the verb,

01:01

"pukes," which works as the predicate.

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If someone tries to shove dependent clauses out the door on their own, they become what

01:08

are known as "fragments."

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To help dependent clauses avoid this cruel fate, we have to make sure they stay attached

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to a full sentence.

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As one might suspect, since we spent so much time talking about this, the sentences in

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question here have an example of a dependent clause turned fragment.

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"Such as electrical, chemical, and industrial engineering," has no subject and no predicate.

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It's a bunch of nouns, but no verbs telling us what they're doing, making the clause

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totally dependent.

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Therefore, we know the period that separates the clause from the preceding sentence is

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guilty of turning it into a fragment.

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So, we can kick off our elimination process by scratching out choice (A), which claims

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that the original sentences are correct.

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(C) is super wonky, so it has to go as well. It places a period right smack dab in the

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middle of "such" and "as," which doesn't make any sense at all.

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These are two words that in general just don't like to be separated.

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In this case, "such as" is actually functioning as a relative pronoun, which is a type of

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pronoun that introduces a relative clause.

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And what is a relative clause? It's a clause that modifies a word, phrase, or idea in the

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main clause.

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So, in our sample sentence, "such as electrical, chemical, and industrial engineering" modifies

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"majors in engineering" by specifying the kinds of majors we're talking about

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here.

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Since relative clauses are always busy modifying something in the main clause, they're always

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dependent on them.

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If one of them is ever separated from the thing it's modifying, it's doomed to be

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a fragment.

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Choice (B) is a little bit better than (A) and (C), because it's not trying to turn

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our dependent relative clause into a fragment by using a period.

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However, like we said before, "such" and "as" are two words that usually hate to

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be separated, even if it's with a comma. We've now narrowed our choices down to (D),

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which correctly keeps the relative dependent clause connected to the main clause with a

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comma, without splitting apart "such" and "as."

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These dependent clauses may be needy, but they're nothing compared

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to the codependent ones...