ACT English 1.4 Sentence Structure
ACT English: Sentence Structure Drill 1, Problem 4. Which punctuation fits best?
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|Sentence Structure||Sentence Fragments|
Verbals are derived from verbs, but they serve different functions from their original verb
Here, "leaving" is based on the verb "leave," but the "ing" ending and its function in the
sentence magically transform it into a type of verbal known as a participle.
"Leaving" introduces the participle phrase, "Leaving her team at a time when we needed
Participles and participle phrases always function as adjectives, which means that they
have to be attached to a noun or pronoun that they modify in some way.
The participle phrase in question here is describing, or modifying, Coach Dietz, who
either just can't take the heat, or has a serious lack of team spirit.
However, it's well nigh impossible for a participle phrase to do its job of modifying something,
when there's a period getting in its way.
In order for it to describe Coach Dietz, it needs some kind of punctuation to keep it
attached to the previous sentence.
Therefore, we know that choice (A) is incorrect.
The period that's keeping our phrase apart from the word it's trying to modify actually
turns it into a fragment.
What can we say? Participle phrases just aren't good with being alone...
Choice (C) does try to bridge the gap by using a bit of punctuation.
Unfortunately, semicolons are used to connect two independent clauses.
Since our modifying participle phrase is totally dependent in the first sentence, we can say
sayonara to choice (C).
Choice (D) tries to connect the two sentences with a colon, but this doesn't work either.
Colons can only be used to connect an independent clause to something else, like a list or another
The trouble here is that "Coach Dietz exemplified unprofessional behavior by walking off the
field in the middle of," is not an independent clause.
It just sounds weird, right? Putting the colon there breaks up the prepositional phrase "of
the game" in a way that just isn't natural.
We can definitely take (D) out of the running.
Choice (B) wins the day by correctly using a comma to connect the participle phrase to
the first sentence.
Now our modifying phrase can describe Coach Dietz's bad behavior without anything standing
its way...although we're guessing that Dietz would rather the phrase keep its modifying