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ACT Grammar

ACT English – Grammar Primer

If you’re nervous about all of the grammar on the ACT English Test, and not sure where to even begin your studies, remember that ACT English (thankfully) is only concerned with about a dozen grammatical errors. Even if English is not your strongest subject, once you can identify these common errors, you’ll be able to get the vast majority of these questions correct. Before you can understand these common errors, such as pronoun-antecedent agreement or verb tense agreement, you’ll need to make sure you gasps some grammar fundamentals, and can easily recognize parts of speech.

Parts of Speech

The most basic part of speech is the NOUN, which is what we call a person, place, thing, or idea. Special nouns refer to groups and are called COLLECTIVE NOUNS.

     My favorite subject in school is math.

     The tennis team won another victory.
A VERB is a word that tells us the action of a noun. A verb can also describe a state of being.

     I am 17 years old.

     I prefer to watch movies than to watch television.
A PRONOUN is a word used to take the place of a noun. A common error on the ACT English Test occurs when a pronoun appears without a logical antecedent (or noun to refer back to).

     When Maggie is studying for the ACT, make sure she studies at least every day to prepare      for it.
An ADJECTIVE is a modifier (a word whose job it is to describe a noun or pronoun). They can come before or after the word they modify. Notice how many adjectives this sentence has:

     The special effects in the Marvel superhero movie were incredible

“Special” and “incredible” help describe the “effects” even though the two words sit at opposite ends of the sentence. The two adjectives “Marvel superhero” are used to describe what type of “movie” is being discussed.
An ADVERB is a modifier used to describe a verb. However, it can also be used to modify adjectives or additional adverbs.

     The barely injured runner nevertheless crossed the marathon finish line slowly.

Here we have two adverbs: “barely” is modifying the adjective “injured” and “slowly” is modifying the verb “crossed.”
A CONJUNCTION is a part of speech that combines two ideas.

     Do you want to eat dinner now or wait until later?

There’s a special category of conjunctions called “coordinating conjunctions” – we’ll cover those in another blog!
Finally, a PREPOSITION is a word that describes location and/or relationship.

     I lost the game of hide-and-go seek when I was discovered under the bed.
Luckily, the ACT English Test will never require you to point out and name the various parts of speech, but once you’ve got these basics down, you’ll have an easier time understanding grammar concepts that are tested such as parallelism, subject-verb agreement, and modifying clauses. You may even want to print this primer out and have it next to you until you can remember these parts of speech!

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