08 June 2011

“But” or “yet” between adjectives = no comma

One of the ACT’s preferred tricks is to give you a sentence that looks like the following:

Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn is one of the most controversial, yet beloved books in all of American literature.

A. NO CHANGE
B. controversial; yet beloved
C. controversial, yet beloved,
D. controversial yet beloved

Because “controversial” and “beloved” are both adjectives, you do not need a comma between them. The answer is therefore (D).

You can also think of the rule this way: “comma + but/yet” = period. When you plug a period into the sentence, you get nonsense: Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn is one of the most controversial. Beloved books in all of American literature.

If a period doesn’t work, neither does “comma + but/yet.”

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