Know your SAT Grammar : Punctuations

Punctuations are extremely important. Wrong punctuations can cause ambiguity in meaning, or sometimes even completely misrepresent the intended meaning of a sentence.  

For instance, it can make a sweet natured woman come off as a heartless psychopath!

Punctuation Horrors!

Btw, the problem here is with punctuations: Rachel probably finds inspiration in cooking, her family and her dog. Not from cooking her loved ones!

That said, punctuation are intended to help us avoid misunderstanding. Unfortunately, punctuation marks such as hyphen, quotation marks, commas and semicolon are frequently neglected and this creates issues with understanding the intended meaning of the information given. Punctuation marks are like signs; they are indicators what highlight what important aspects of a sentence without any special emphasis. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone”. So it’s pretty evident that we have got to understand the prominence of the punctuation.

How are punctuations tested on the SAT?

On the test day,  the writing section consists of 44 questions and you only have 35 minutes to solve all of these reading based questions that test your ‘writing skills’ proficiency. Things such as syntax, concision, and cogency are tested. As part of syntax, punctuations become a very important aspect of testing! It’s also quite shocking that many students make the most errors in the types of questions that test punctuation in context!

So to give you an edge, let’s look at the three common punctuation related rules tested on the SAT.

Comma Subject rule

When you find a sentence beginning with parenthesis and separated by a comma, always check for the subject. Let’s look at an example:

Walking out of the library, Sam’s book dropped. (Wrong)

Walking out of the library, Sam dropped his book. (Correct)

If we contemplate on the example we notice that in the incorrect sentence the subject is Sam’s book which is wrong. It has to be Sam because he was walking out of the store.

Usage of colon

Colon is used to introduce or emphasize a short phrase, quotation, explanation, example, or list.

Lucy had two important tasks to finish: a math solution and an essay.  

Usage of comma

Here are some important things to remember about the comma.

They are used to:

  • Separate independent clauses connected by FANBOYS conjunction.   (For,and,nor,but,or,yet,so)
  • Separate modifying or introductory phrases. Ex: Walking out of the library, Sam dropped his book.
  • To set off items in a series or list. Ex: Leo bought vegetables such as carrots, onions, and potatoes

Want to know more about commas and their use? Read our article on “Using Comma”.

These are the major areas to work on to avoid the punctuation errors on SAT.  For more inputs please visit our nearest Kaplan-Logiquest Center and talk to our Kaplan certified trainers for higher scores on the SAT.

Suresh Daniel has been teaching English for 15 years now. He is now a Kaplan certified trainer for GRE, GMAT, SAT & ACT. Suresh loves reading fiction, especially thriller genre and detective novels.