Mastering Grammar Rules for ACT English Section – College Admissions

Mastering Grammar

Grammar may appear a dreaded subject for many students but it constitutes being the central portion of ACT English. The section score for Standard English Convention accounts for 51-56 percent against 29-32 percent for writing production and 13-19 percent for language knowledge. Students preparing for the ACT need to pay special attention to a number of grammar rules for best results. Below we outline four major grammar areas which the students need to fully understand for successfully completing the ACT English section.

  1. Consistence verb tense – In an ACT passage one needs to maintain the verb tense throughout a single sentence. For instance, change of present tense to past tense must be avoided. So if in the passage a student writes a present tense then the sentence must not conclude like “He ran to the swimming pool every morning because he liked to swim”. But the same sentence must continue using the same tense by writing the given sentence as “He ran to the swimming pool every morning because he likes to swim”.

While answering the questions on verb tense in an ACT question, one must review both sides of the question portions for determining the existing verb tense. The embedded context clues in the sentence also signal out the correct tense and students must be using the same tense in their answer.

Reviewing less common tenses is also a critical part in ACT English papers. Prefer using the present perfect tense – has/have along with the past participle – when actions begun in the past are ongoing. Use past perfect tense – had along with past participle – when describing first two actions that have been completed in the past. Also, use future perfect – will have along with the past participle – when an action is to take place after a future event.

Mastering Grammar Review

  1. Apostrophes and Possessives – In ACT, some students become confused while working on possessives because apostrophes are used under two general instances. These two instances are contractions and possessives. An apostrophe must be used when replacing the missing letters truncated when two words form a contraction. For instance, “did not” becomes “didn’t”.

               Possessives are to be used with any noun other than pronouns for reflecting ownerships. For         singular possessives, use apostrophe with ‘s’, for instance – “Mike’s clothes”. Also, use                apostrophe for reflecting ownership for plurals that end with ‘s’ like “boys’ shoes”. Similarly, use      apostrophe followed by ‘s’ for plurals that do not end with ‘s’, for instance, “women’s wear”.

               Hers, his and its are pronouns that are possessive and do not need an apostrophe. Remember          that it’s is always “it is” while ‘its’ is always a possessive. So if a passage contains a sentence that says – “It’s pages are missing” – then consider correcting it to – “Its pages are missing”.

  1. Semicolon – Semicolons are always used to separate two completely different thoughts. Generally, one uses a comma along with FANBOYS word – for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so – for joining two complete thoughts. However, semicolons also allow doing the trick without connecting or FANBOYS words. Also, use semicolons for connecting two related thoughts.

               For instance – “it’s going to rain tomorrow; so bring your umbrella”, makes a logical sense                whereas the sentence – “bring your umbrella; elephants are crossing the road” does not apply     the semicolon. In ACT, consider using semicolon for connecting two clauses or sentences or two   independent ideas. Also, a semicolon cannot connect a dependent and an independent clause.

  1. The English section in ACT frequently tests the use of comma for its correct use students need to remember three rules.

       First, the information that is not directly related to the sentence and can be removed without  changing the meaning of the sentence is to be put within the commas. For instance – “Giraffe,          commonly found in Africa, are the tallest animals found on our planet”. Here, the part of               sentence that is contained within comma can be removed without affecting the meaning of the        sentence. Second, commas are used to separate list items that contain at least three things. For                example, “apples, oranges, grapes and guavas”.

               Third, remember that two independent or different ideas cannot be connected by using just a     comma. For these to connect one must use the comma along with FANBOYS word for                appropriation. For example – “Don’t pile up your work, it will block your progress tomorrow”         – can be written as” Don’t pile up your work, for it will block your progress tomorrow”.

Apart from these rules there are several more aspects that need to be considered for guaranteeing the success rate. The English section in ACT cannot be overlooked for being either hard or easy. By practicing and knowing more of the existing rules that apply for making the sentences and phrases correct one can for sure ensure to score maximum of marks.

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