ACTGrammarSAT

Commas after Introductory Information on the SAT® and ACT® Exams

Commas after Introductory Information on the SAT® and ACT® Exams

Both the SAT and ACT exams test student knowledge about whether a comma should be placed between introductory information and the sentence’s independent clause. Introductory information can include phrases or dependent clauses that come before a sentence’s independent clause.

UWorld College Prep ACT SAT Example:After running four laps around the track, she was tired and started walking.  Introductory phrase		      	Independent clause Comma	          Because he needed money to buy a car, my cousin got a job after school.              Introductory dependent clause	          		Independent clause

Sometimes students will be presented with compound introductory phrases/clauses. In these sentences, be careful to determine where the introductory information ends as it may contain a conjunction like “and.”

UWorld College Prep ACT SAT Example: Correct - Introductory dependent clause Comma	          Independent clause Because the car needed gas and we needed a break, we stopped at a service station. 
Incorrect:
Incorrect comma 		        Correct comma	Independent clause
Because the car needed gas, and we needed a break, we stopped at a service station.

In addition, the SAT and ACT exams try to distract students by including answers choices with the wrong punctuation mark between the introductory information and the independent clause and/or incorrectly adding a conjunction.

UWorld College Prep ACT SAT Example: Incorrect -
 Semicolon
 When biking after dark; make sure you wear reflective clothing.
 Introductory information		      	Independent clause
 Conjunction 
Although I wanted to tell her the truth, but I didn't want to hurt her feelings. 
 Introductory information	          			Independent clause

If you need more practice with comma and other punctuation questions, use the released tests provided by the College Board and ACT or practice online with exam-like questions at websites like UWord.