Demystifying Punctuation Rules on the ACT English Test

By Steven Darby - April 1, 2024

Understanding Punctuation:

Punctuation plays a pivotal role in conveying clarity and coherence in written communication. On the ACT English Test, punctuation encompasses periods, commas, semicolons, colons, dashes, apostrophes, and parentheses.

Mastering Independent and Dependent Clauses:

A solid grasp of independent (IC) and dependent clauses (DC) is fundamental to answering punctuation questions effectively. Encourage your child to distinguish between ICs, which can stand alone as complete thoughts, and DCs, which rely on additional information for coherence.

Practice with ICs and DCs:

Engage your child in practice exercises to identify ICs and DCs within sentences. This hands-on approach fosters fluency in recognizing clause types, facilitating accurate punctuation application.

Nailing Periods and Semicolons:

Periods and semicolons serve as primary punctuation marks for separating ICs. Remind your child that semicolons function as 'super periods,' signaling a stronger connection between closely related clauses.

Harnessing the Power of Colons:

Colons, though less frequently tested, merit attention. They typically introduce lists, examples, or elaborations following an IC. Encourage your child to use colons judiciously, maintaining coherence and precision in their writing.

Embracing Dashes and Commas:

Dashes and commas offer versatility in punctuating sentences. They can replace commas or colons, adding emphasis or delineating supplementary information. Encourage your child to experiment with these marks, enhancing sentence structure and clarity.

Navigating Coordinating Conjunctions:

Coordinating conjunctions, such as FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so), govern the use of commas in separating ICs. Train your child to identify situations where commas are warranted, ensuring grammatical correctness and coherence.

Emphasizing the Oxford Comma:

Reinforce the importance of the Oxford comma, which precedes the final 'and' in a list of three or more items. This subtle yet crucial punctuation mark enhances clarity and consistency in writing.

Practical Application and Practice:

Provide ample opportunities for your child to apply punctuation rules in practice exercises. Encourage them to engage actively with texts, honing their punctuation skills through hands-on learning and application.

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