ACT English 2.5 Sentence Structure
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ACT English: Sentence Structure Drill 2, Problem 5. Which punctuation marks best complete the sentence?
|ACT English||Sentence Structure|
|Product Type||ACT English|
|Sentence Structure||Comma Splices and Run-Ons|
Comma Splices and Run-on Sentences
There's definitely more than one snake in this pit.
The phrase, "in fact," is coiled in the middle of this sentence, evilly plotting to throw
us off the trail.
See, "in fact" can sometimes function as a subordinating phrase.
If it were doing so here, it would turn the independent clause, "you might prefer the
snake pit" into a dependent one, meaning that the phrase would then not be able to exist
on its own anymore.
However, that's not what "in fact" is doing here at all. Besides acting as a subordinating
phrase, it can also sometimes act as an introductory phrase.
It does this here by setting the stage for "you might prefer the snake pit."
Therefore, we know that both of our clauses here are independent, and the comma that attempts
to connect them in the original sentence is guilty of creating a comma splice.
Which means we can get rid of choice (A) and move on with our lives.
Let's see what choice (C) has to offer.
Well, it does do a good job of connecting our independent clauses with a semicolon.
However, it messes up by not placing a comma after the introductory phrase, "in fact."
It's crucial, for clarity's sake, that a comma always follows any introductory phrase.
We can nix choice (D) pretty easily. While it does remember to put that crucial comma
after our introductory phrase, "in fact," it tries to connect our two independent clauses
with a colon.
Colons can connect independent clauses, but only when the second clause is an explanation.
Here, the second clause is more of a clarification, really, so the colon doesn't work.
We've now narrowed it down to choice (B), which comes through with flying colors.
It remembers that crucial comma after our introductory phrase, and also correctly divides
our independent clauses with a period.
For the record, we at Shmoop will take a metaphorical snake pit over a real one any day...