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ACT English and Writing: Improving Sentence Structure

The ACT English and Writing section is an important component of the ACT exam, and it assesses a student’s ability to understand and improve the structure of sentences. Strong sentence structure is crucial for effective communication, whether it’s in writing or speaking. In this article, we will explore various strategies and techniques to improve sentence structure in the ACT English and Writing section. By understanding the rules and principles of sentence structure, students can enhance their performance on this section and improve their overall ACT score.

The Importance of Sentence Structure

Sentence structure refers to the way words and phrases are organized to form a complete sentence. It includes elements such as subject, verb, object, clauses, phrases, and punctuation. Good sentence structure is essential for clear and effective communication. It helps convey ideas accurately and ensures that the intended meaning is understood by the reader or listener.

In the context of the ACT English and Writing section, sentence structure plays a significant role in determining the correctness and clarity of a sentence. The exam tests students’ ability to identify errors in sentence structure and improve sentences to make them more concise, coherent, and grammatically correct.

Common Sentence Structure Errors

Before we delve into strategies to improve sentence structure, let’s first identify some common errors that students often make in this section. By understanding these errors, students can be better equipped to spot and correct them during the exam.

  • Run-on Sentences: Run-on sentences occur when two or more independent clauses are joined together without proper punctuation or conjunctions. These sentences can be confusing and make it difficult for the reader to understand the intended meaning.
  • Fragments: Sentence fragments are incomplete sentences that lack a subject, verb, or both. They often occur when a dependent clause is mistakenly used as a standalone sentence.
  • Subject-Verb Agreement: Subject-verb agreement errors occur when the subject and verb in a sentence do not agree in number. For example, using a singular verb with a plural subject or vice versa.
  • Misplaced Modifiers: Misplaced modifiers are words or phrases that are not placed close enough to the word they are intended to modify, resulting in confusion or ambiguity.
  • Parallelism: Parallelism errors occur when items in a list or series are not grammatically parallel in structure. This can disrupt the flow and coherence of a sentence.
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Strategies to Improve Sentence Structure

Now that we have identified common sentence structure errors, let’s explore some strategies and techniques to improve sentence structure in the ACT English and Writing section. By applying these strategies, students can enhance the clarity, coherence, and grammatical correctness of their sentences.

1. Use Clear and Concise Language

One of the key principles of good sentence structure is using clear and concise language. Avoid using unnecessary words or phrases that do not add meaning to the sentence. Instead, focus on conveying your ideas in a straightforward and concise manner.

For example, consider the following sentence:

“The reason why I didn’t attend the party was that I had a lot of homework to do.”

This sentence can be improved by removing unnecessary words:

“I didn’t attend the party because I had a lot of homework.”

By eliminating unnecessary words, the sentence becomes more concise and easier to understand.

2. Vary Sentence Length and Structure

Another strategy to improve sentence structure is to vary the length and structure of your sentences. Using sentences of different lengths and structures can make your writing more engaging and prevent it from becoming monotonous.

For example, consider the following paragraph:

“I woke up early in the morning. I had breakfast. Then, I went for a walk. After that, I met my friends for lunch. In the evening, I watched a movie.”

This paragraph can be improved by varying the sentence length and structure:

“I woke up early in the morning and had breakfast. Later, I went for a walk before meeting my friends for lunch. In the evening, I enjoyed watching a movie.”

By varying the sentence length and structure, the paragraph becomes more engaging and flows better.

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3. Pay Attention to Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of sentence structure. It is important to ensure that the subject and verb in a sentence agree in number. A singular subject requires a singular verb, while a plural subject requires a plural verb.

For example:

“The dog runs in the park.”

“The dogs run in the park.”

In the first sentence, the subject “dog” is singular, so the verb “runs” is also singular. In the second sentence, the subject “dogs” is plural, so the verb “run” is also plural.

4. Use Parallel Structure

Parallel structure refers to using the same grammatical structure for items in a list or series. This helps maintain consistency and clarity in a sentence.

For example:

“She likes running, swimming, and to play tennis.”

This sentence can be improved by using parallel structure:

“She likes running, swimming, and playing tennis.”

By using parallel structure, the sentence becomes more coherent and grammatically correct.

5. Proofread and Edit Your Writing

Lastly, it is essential to proofread and edit your writing to identify and correct any sentence structure errors. Take the time to review your sentences for clarity, coherence, and grammatical correctness. Pay attention to punctuation, subject-verb agreement, and the overall flow of your writing.

Proofreading and editing allow you to catch any mistakes or inconsistencies in your sentence structure and ensure that your writing is clear and effective.

Conclusion

In conclusion, improving sentence structure is crucial for success in the ACT English and Writing section. By understanding the rules and principles of sentence structure, students can enhance their performance on this section and improve their overall ACT score. Strategies such as using clear and concise language, varying sentence length and structure, paying attention to subject-verb agreement, using parallel structure, and proofreading and editing can help students improve their sentence structure skills. By practicing these strategies and techniques, students can become more proficient in identifying and improving sentence structure errors, leading to stronger and more effective communication skills.

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