13 March 2011

No comma between compound items (subjects, objects, verbs)

This is one of the most common errors involving commas on the ACT, and it’s one that’s very easy to identify and fix.

A compound item is simply two nouns or verbs joined by the word “and.” The rule is that you never need a comma before the “and.”

If the grammatical terminology makes you too nervous, there’s also a great shortcut: comma + and = period, and if you plug in a period, you won’t have two full sentences. Since the period isn’t correct, “comma + and” isn’t correct either.


Compound Subject Errors

Incorrect: The cover, and the binding of the old book are beginning to disintegrate.

Period replaces “comma + and:” The cover. The binding of the old book are beginning to disintegrate.

Correct: The cover and the binding of the old book are beginning to disintegrate.


Compound Object Errors

Incorrect: The book has many pages, and illustrations.

Period replaces “comma + and:” The book has many pages. Illustrations.

Correct: The book has many pages and illustrations.


Compound Verb 

Incorrect: The cover of the old book is beginning to fade, and disintegrate.

Period replaces “comma + and:” The cover of the old book is beginning to fade. Disintegrate.

Correct: The cover of the old book is beginning to fade and disintegrate.

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