ACTGrammarSAT

Commas and Appositives on the SAT® and ACT® Exams

Commas and Appositives on the SAT® and ACT® Exams

Both the SAT and ACT exams expect students to know whether or not appositives should be set off from the rest of the sentence with commas.

To make that decision, it’s important to know what appositives are: nouns or noun phrases that rename or provide additional information about the nouns right beside the appositive.

When the noun being described is a proper noun or name, usually the information that follows is set off with commas.

UWorld College Prep ACT SAT Example: This old car, the one with all the dents (Appositive), means a lot to me.

Other appositives don’t describe proper nouns, but they are still set off with commas.

UWorld College Prep ACT SAT Example: This old car, the one with all the dents (Appositive), means a lot to me.

An appositive that begins a sentence is followed by a comma to separate it from the rest of the sentence.

UWorld College Prep ACT SAT Example: A hard worker (Appositive), my dad may never retire.

Likewise, when an appositive ends a sentence, it is separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma.

UWorld College Prep ACT SAT Example: SMU professor Marshall Terry (Appositive) was a favorite with his students.

The only appositives that aren’t set off with commas are proper nouns because they always identify specifically who or what is being discussed.

UWorld College Prep ACT SAT Example: SMU professor Marshall Terry (Appositive) was a favorite with his students.

We hope this helps to clarify the use of commas with appositives so that you will feel more confident choosing the correct answer to these types of questions on both the SAT and ACT.

If you feel like you need more practice deciding whether commas should set off appositive phrases, use the released tests provided by the College Board and ACT, or practice online with exam-like questions at UWorld.