ACT English 2.3 Sentence Structure
ACT English: Sentence Structure Drill 2, Problem 3. What is the best way to punctuate this passage?
|ACT English||Sentence Structure|
|Product Type||ACT English|
|Sentence Structure||Comma Splices and Run-Ons|
Comma Splices and Run-on Sentences
Let's just kick (A) to the curb right from the get-go. There's no way this big mess of
a sentence doesn't need any changes.
No worries, though. We'll find a way to clean it up.
"The university's plan for expansion included a new arts building and a new library" is
one complete independent clause, while "if the funding drive is successful, there will
be enough money for both" is another.
By connecting these two independent clauses with nothing but a comma, the original sentence
becomes one big nasty comma splice.
If possible, choice (B) makes an even bigger mess out of the situation by not putting any
punctuation at all between our two independent clauses.
We know that two independent clauses that are jammed together without a conjunction
or the proper punctuation are what's known as a run-on or fused sentence.
(D) does get one thing right by using a semicolon to connect our independent clauses.
This is one of the semicolon's main jobs, and here it does that job well. At times,
it can be a great way to fix a run-on sentence.
However, choice (D) lets us down by allowing a comma to run wild.
"If the funding drive is successful" is an introductory phrase, which sets the stage
for the main clause to come.
In this case, the phrase starts with the preposition "if," so we know that this particular introductory
phrase is what's known as a prepositional phrase.
Anyway, whenever a sentence starts with an introductory phrase, it's important to set
it apart with a comma to help with clarity.
Choice (D), however, places the comma directly after the preposition "if," rather than after
the phrase as a whole.
This, of course, is incorrect, so while it impressed us with its semicolon, (D) gets
disqualified for its sloppy comma use.
Choice (C) solves our original comma splice issue correctly by separating the two independent
clauses with a period.
Now they're each free to be themselves, without the other all up in its business all the time.
Like Brad and Jennifer or Ben and J-lo, some couples just aren't meant
to be together...