SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Complete Parts of Speech for SAT Writing and ACT English

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Jun 21, 2015 7:25:22 PM

SAT Writing, ACT English

 

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“Parts of speech” is a fancy way of saying that every word in the English language can be put into one of eight categories, depending on how it is used. Of these eight parts of speech, only 7 are tested on the Writing SAT and on ACT English. 

Understanding the different parts of speech is absolutely essential to having a firm grasp of English grammar, and in succeeding on the SAT and ACT. Unfortunately, nowadays many schools no longer focus on teaching this type of grammar.

Are you a bit unsure about what, exactly, a preposition is, or can’t tell the difference between an adjective and adverb? Feeling a bit rusty after learning this years ago? This article will provide the foundational information you need before moving on to more complex grammatical concepts. I'll also go over a few important SAT/ACT grammar rules.

 

How Should You Use This Guide?

This guide is designed to help you brush up on the basics before you tackle some of the more complicated grammar guides that we have written for the SAT and ACT. 

Many of the concepts covered here are things you'll already know if you've studied grammar in school. Even if you haven't, many (but not necessarily all) of them will seem natural to native English speakers. 

However, if you haven't studied grammar extensively, you can use this as a reference to help understand the basic ideas that our other guides will not cover. Check back here if you come across some terms you're unfamiliar with, or if you need to remind yourself of what something means.

Many of the concepts in this guide are not directly tested on the ACT and SAT. Instead, these concepts are building blocks that are important for understanding the why? behind the concepts that are tested. Therefore, do not worry about memorizing the names of the grammar terms in this guide, just use the concepts.

 

What Parts of Speech Are on SAT Writing and ACT English?

The seven parts of speech that are tested on the SAT and ACT are: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions.

Once you understand the different rules for each Part of Speech, you will see that these are relatively straightforward concepts, and they can be used to help you understand more difficult concepts.

 

Nouns

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Nouns are words that are people, places, things, or ideas.

If you are not sure if something is a noun or not, try putting "a" or "the" in front of it and see if it sounds correct. If it does, then it's probably a noun.

Examples

"A cat" and "the cat" sound correct. Therefore, "cat" is a noun.

"A him" and "the him" sound incorrect. Therefore, "him" is not a noun.

 

Categories of Nouns

Common Nouns refer to non-specific people, places, or things.

Proper Nouns refer to specific people, places, or things.

Examples

Common nouns: girl, city, bridge, university, company

Proper Nouns: Mary, San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, University of Notre Dame, PrepScholar

Concrete Nouns are people, places, or things that you can physically touch.

Abstract Nouns are thoughts, subjects, games, or ideals. These are things, but they cannot be touched.

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Love is an abstract noun.

Examples

Concrete nouns: water, air, street, person, concrete

Abstract nouns: freedom, love, justice, hockey, biology

 

Uses of Nouns

Nouns have several possible functions in a sentence. They can be used as the subject, predicate nominative, appositive, direct object, indirect object, or object of the preposition. There are other uses for nouns, but we won't go into them now.

Note: Remember that it is not important that you know the names of these functions. But it is important to understand how nouns can be used, so you can recognize when one is being used incorrectly.

Subject

The subject of the sentence is the person or thing that is doing the action of the verb. 

Example

Mary went to the store.

Mary is the subject of the sentence because she is doing the action.

 

Predicate Nominative

A predicate nominative comes after a linking verb (see the verb section for more info) and re-states the subject of the sentence.

Example

Mary is a great friend.

Mary is the subject. Friend is the predicate nominative. In this sentence, Mary and friend are the same thing, or Mary = friend.

 

Appositive

An appositive is a noun that re-states or gives more information about another noun in a sentence. Unlike a predicate nominative, it does not come after a linking verb. Instead, it's usually right next to the noun it's describing, and is set off by commas.

Because appositives are set off by commas from the rest of the sentence, it usually works to remove the appositive and still have a grammatically correct sentence.

Example

My friend, Mary, is an exceptional human being.

Here, Mary is an appositive because it gives more information about who the friend is.

If you remove the appositive the sentence still makes sense:

My friend is an exceptional human being.

 

Direct Object

A Direct Object is a noun that receives the action of a transitive verb (more on these here)

Example

I got a perfect score on the SAT.

Ask yourself: I got what? Got a score. Therefore, score is the direct object.

 

Indirect Object

An Indirect Object is a noun that receives the Direct Object.

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Being the indirect object of brownies is always a good thing.

Example

I made Kim some brownies.

Ask yourself: I made what? Brownies. Therefore, brownies is the direct object.

Who received the brownies? Kim. Therefore, Kim is the indirect object.

 

Object of a Preposition

All prepositional phrases consist of at least a preposition (see below) and a noun. The noun that comes after a preposition is called the object of the preposition.

Example

I got a perfect score on the SAT.

Here, the preposition is on. On what? On the SAT. Therefore, SAT is the object of the preposition on.

 

Forming the Plural of Nouns

This is another concept that is not directly tested on the SAT and ACT, but occasionally you will need to recognize if a noun is singular or plural in order to match it with the correct verb.

  • Most nouns form the plural by adding -s.

Examples

cat + -s = cats

donkey + -s = donkeys

  • Add -es if the noun ends in -s, -x, -z, -sh, or -ch. This is simply because of pronunciation - it's really difficult to make these sounds followed by "-s"

Examples

fox + -es = foxes

buzz + -es = buzzes

brunch + -es = brunches

  • If the last two letters of a noun are a consonant followed by -y, drop the -y and add -ies

Examples

pony → ponies

fly → flies

  • Some nouns that end in -f or -fe form the plural by dropping the -f/-fe and adding -ves.
  • Once again, this is all about ease of pronunciation, as it's really difficult to make the -fs sound at the end of a word.

Examples

leaf → leaves

life → lives

  • Some nouns form the plural irregularly. Unfortunately, there are no rules for how to form these, and you just have to memorize these words. Fortunately, most of these words are quite common and you should know most of them already.

Examples

mouse mice

child → children

man → men

goose → geese

foot → feet

  • Some words don't change at all in the plural.

Examples

deer → deer

fish → fish

sheep → sheep

  • NOTE: NEVER FORM THE PLURAL BY ADDING -'S (apostrope +s). This should only be used for showing possession.

 

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The people of Leeds are appropriately passionate about misused apostrophes.

 

Forming the Possessive of Nouns

The possessive is how we show ownership.

To form the possessive of a singular noun, always add -'s.

Examples

Bob's, mouse's, donkey's

To form the possessive of a plural noun that ends in -s, just add an apostrophe.

Examples

purses', monkeys', dogs'

To form the possesive of a plural noun that is irregular and does NOT end in -s, add -'s.

Examples

children's, women's, mice's

 

Special Types of Nouns

Are you a grammar pro? If you already knew all of the above about nouns, here are a few special categories of noun you may have been unaware of!

 

Gerunds

The -ing form of a verb can be used as a verb as long as it has a helping verb. But did you know that if it's standing on its own, it's called a gerund and is used as a noun?

Example

Baking is a pleasurable hobby.

Here, baking is a noun and is the subject of the sentence.

 

Infinitive as a Noun

Similarly, the infinitive form (the "to" form) can be used as a noun.

Example

He likes to run.

Here, "to run" is the direct object of the verb "likes". Therefore, it is being used as a noun.

 

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This man loves to run...for president.

 

Pronouns

Pronouns are words that can replace nouns. Unlike nouns, pronouns have different cases.

 

What Is a Case?

This means that the form the pronoun takes can change depending on what purpose it has in the sentence. Above, we saw that nouns can be used either as a subject/nominative, or as several different types of objects. Personal pronouns have one form when they are used as a subject or predicate nominative, and another form when used in any of the object functions (direct object, indirect object, or object of preposition).

NOTE: This actually is tested on the ACT!

 

Personal Pronouns

Nominative case (subject)    

Singular

Plural

First Person

I

We

Second Person

You

You

Third Person

He, She, It      

They



Objective case

Singular

Plural

First Person

Me

Us

Second Person   

You

You

Third Person

Him, Her, It        

Them

 

What Do These Charts Mean? 

The nominative case forms should ONLY be used when the personal pronoun is being used as the subject of a clause or as the predicate nominative. (Don't remember what these are? Check out the Noun section above!)

Examples

She and I went to the store.

Michael and he are my best friends.

Many people would say “Michael and him”, but this is incorrect because “he” is a subject of the clause and therefore must be in the nominative case. When you are not sure, try crossing out the other subject. You would never say, “Him is my best friend.”

Example

The winner of the race was he.

This construction does not sound correct to most people, but it is. Try flipping the sentence around: He was the winner of the race. This is an example of a personal pronoun being used as as predicate nominative.

The objective case of pronouns should be used for direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of prepositions.

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Examples

He gave her and me great presents.

He gave us a great present.

The presentation will be given by Tom and me.

She loves him. I don’t like you.

For more on how to use pronouns in different cases, see our guide.

 

Non-Personal Pronouns

These include but are not limited to: this, that, both, some, few, many, either, which, who, and one. These pronouns do not change form between the nominative case and the objective case.

Some people do not think that these pronouns look correct standing on their own, but they are.

Examples

I have two dogs. Both are very lucky.

This rose is beautiful. This is my favorite flower.

Many people went to search for the treasure. Only some returned.

These pronouns can be tricky to use with verbs because it is not very obvious whether they are singular or plural. A good way to figure this out is to try to add the word “one” after the pronoun. Does it make sense? If so, use a singular verb.

Examples

This (one) is my favorite. CORRECT

That (one) is my sister. CORRECT

Few (one) succeeds. INCORRECT

If adding “one” does not work, mentally add “of them”. If this makes sense, use the plural verb.

Examples

Many (of them) try to get a perfect SAT score. (CORRECT)

Few (of them) succeed. (CORRECT)

Exception: The pronoun "one" is always singular, even though "one of them" sounds correct. Always use a singular verb.

 

Forming the Possessive of Pronouns

The possessive forms of the personal pronouns are:


 

Singular

Plural

First Person

mine

ours

Second Person    

yours

yours

Third Person

his, hers, its    

theirs

 

Because these are pronouns (not adjectives), they can be used independently.

Examples

Hers is the chocolate dessert.

That report card is yours.

Theirs beat out ours.

 

 

Main Rules for Pronouns on the SAT and ACT

The SAT and ACT both frequently test pronouns. Here is a brief summary of what you are most likely to see tested. For more detail, see our article on pronouns on the ACT English and SAT Writing.

 

Rule 1

Always make sure a pronoun has a clear antecedent. The antecedent is the noun that the pronoun is replacing. If there is not an obvious antecedent for the pronoun either in the same sentence, or a sentence very nearby, it is considered an error.

Example

Mary and Eileen both like strawberries, but she likes them more. 

This would be considered incorrect because it is not clear who "she" is referring to.

Sometimes the antecedent will be in a previous sentence. In this case, it should also be very clear.

Example

John Wallach, an award-winning journalist who covered conflicts in the Middle East for two decades, founded Seeds of Peace in 1993. He chose the campsite because it is a beautiful natural setting far from the places of conflict. It remains unaffiliated with any nation, organization, or peace group, and although countries may select their campers, they cannot pay for the camp.

Here it appears that “it” refers to “campsite” in the previous sentence - really it should refer to “Seeds of Peace” in the first sentence. This would be considered an unclear and incorrect use of a pronoun.

 

Rule 2

Pronouns should always be consistent. For example, if you are using second person pronouns in a sentence, you should use them all the way through the sentence.

Examples

Before one starts a new class, you should always read the syllabus. INCORRECT

Before you start a new class, you should always read the syllabus. CORRECT

Before one starts a new class, one should always read the syllabus. CORRECT

Before people start a new class, they  should always read the syllabus. CORRECT

 

Rule 3

Pronouns should always match their antecedents in gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural). For more examples of this rule, see our guide.

Examples

The boys all asked her out, but she didn’t like him. INCORRECT

They boys all asked her out, but she didn’t like them. CORRECT

One of the children painted this portrait. Art is a great talent of theirs. INCORRECT

One of the children painted this portrait. Art is a great talent of his or hers. CORRECT

Each of the actresses was considered most beautiful when they were in their prime. INCORRECT

Each of the actresses was considered most beautiful when she was in her prime. CORRECT

 

Verbs

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Verbs are words that show actions or states of being. For a more complete guide on how to use verbs on the SAT and ACT, read our grammar guide.

 

Types of Verbs

Linking verbs are verbs that show a relationship between the subject and the predicate nominative or predicate adjective. We can think of them as an equals sign. The most common linking verb is the verb “to be.”

Examples

I am a human being.   I = human being

The cake smells delicious.     cake = delicious

 

Action verbs are verbs that show an action. Many (but not all) of these verbs will take direct objects. A verb that takes a direct object is called a transitive verb; a verb that does not is called intransitive. Remember, you do not need to know these terms for the test.

Examples

The car rolled backwards. (No direct object)

I ate wonderful toast. (I ate what? I ate toast. Toast is the direct object.)

 

 

Conjugating Verbs

Most verbs follow a simple pattern in the present tense:

Present tense

Singular

Plural

First Person

(I) walk

(we) walk

Second Person

(you) walk

(you) walk

Third Person

(he/she/it) walks        

(they) walk

 

Notice that only the third person plural (he/she/it) is different. This will become very important on the ACT and SAT because of…

 

Subject-Verb Agreement

When you have a singular noun or pronoun as the subject of a clause, it must be matched by a singular verb. When you have a plural noun as the subject of a clause, it must be matched with a plural verb.

While subject-verb agreement seems simple in theory, the SAT and ACT will try to trick you on this by adding extra words and phrases to sentences. This can make it more difficult to see if the verb works with the subject, as opposed to another noun in the sentence.

Examples

My sister, despite having to carry three children, walk five miles every day.

The test will try to trick you with questions like this by putting a plural noun that is NOT the subject next to a plural verb. To avoid falling for this, find the verb, and then ask yourself, “who is doing this action?” In this case, who is walking five miles? It is my sister, which is a singular noun. Therefore the sentence should read, “My sister, despite having to carry three children, walks five miles every day.

Maria and Joe likes to dance. 

Here you have two subjects: Maria and Joe. Therefore you need the plural form of the verb.

Correct: Maria and Joe like to dance.

 

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Verb Tense

Tense tells when the action of a verb is taking place.

The present tenses tell about things that are happening now:

Present

no helping verb

he sings

Present Perfect

to have + past participle

he has sung

Present Progressive   

to be + present participle     

he is singing

 

The past tenses express actions that have already happened.

Past

no helping verb

he sang

Past Perfect

had + past participle

he had sung

Past Progressive   

to be + present participle    

he was singing

 

The future tenses express actions that are going to happen.

Future

will or shall + verb

he will sing

Future Perfect

will have + past participle

he will have sung

Future Progressive    

will + be + present participle    

he will be singing

 

You should always try to keep tenses consistent in one sentence. This is something the SAT and ACT will frequently test.

Example

After Mary had eaten the soup, she eats the main course.

This sentence matches past perfect with present, and therefore would be considered incorrect.

Instead try:

After Mary had eaten the soup, she ate the main course.

This matches past perfect with past, which is ok for showing progression of time within a sentence.

Example

The olive oils we tasted yesterday are delicious.

This sentence mixes past tense (tasted) with present tense (are). This would be considered incorrect.

The better way would be:

The olive oils we tasted yesterday were delicious.

 

Adjectives

What Are Adjectives?

Adjectives are descriptive words that modify nouns and pronouns.

 

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Types of Adjectives

Like nouns, adjectives can be common or proper. Some common adjectives include beautiful, short, angry, obese. Proper adjectives are formed from proper nouns. Like proper nouns, they must be capitalized.

Examples

I like Mexican food.

He plays the French horn.

 

Possessive Adjectives

These adjectives are formed from the personal pronouns and are used to describe objects that belong to a certain person.

Personal Pronoun  

Possessive Adjective  

Personal Pronoun  

Possessive Adjective

I/me

my

we

our

you

your

you

your

he/she/it

his/her/its

they

their

 

Unlike the possessive pronouns discussed above, these possessive adjectives must be used with a noun.

Examples

That car is mine. vs. That is my car.

Running is a great skill of his. vs. Running is his great skill.

Ours constantly leaks. vs. Our faucet constantly leaks.

 

Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives include this, that, these and those. When these words are used as adjectives instead of pronouns, they must be  modifying a noun.

Examples

That is the person I hate. vs. I hate that person.

These are my best friends. vs. My best friends are these people.

 

Adjectives Formed From Verbs

Adjectives that are formed from verbs are called participles. 

The present participle is formed by adding -ing to a verb stem. The past participle is formed by adding -ed to a verb stem.

Examples

The burned chicken did not taste very good.

The chirping birds woke him up.

 

Adjectives Formed from Nouns

Sometimes you will see a noun being used as an adjective:

Example

The basketball player is tall.

Normally, basketball is a noun. But here it is being used as an adjective to tell you what kind of player the person is. You will occasionally see this on the SAT or ACT, usually to describe a person by his or her profession.

Remember that when a noun is being used as an adjective, there is no need to put a comma in between it and the noun it is describing.

Examples

The basketball, player is tall. INCORRECT

The basketball player is tall. CORRECT

 

Uses of Adjectives

Adjectives are usually used to describe nouns, and are usually placed before the noun they describe.

Example

The beautiful girl walked down the street.

If more than one adjective precedes a noun, they should be separated by a comma if the order of the adjectives is not important.

Example

The slobbering, feisty dog wagged his tail.

The feisty, slobbering dog wagged his tail.

 

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If you have a sentence in which the order of the adjectives IS important - meaning if you reversed them, the sentence would not make as much sense - then do not use a comma.

Examples

She went to the store to purchase spreadable chocolate frosting. CORRECT

She went to purchase chocolate, spreadable frosting. INCORRECT - ORDER MATTERS

 

Do not sit in the broken wood chair. CORRECT

Do not sit in the wood, broken chair. INCORRECT - ORDER MATTERS

Adjectives are also used as predicate adjectives. Like predicate nominatives, this means they come after a linking verb and they describe the subject of the sentence.

Examples

The cake smells delicious. Delicious describes cake.

That runner is very fast. Fast describes runner.

 

Adverbs

What Are Adverbs?

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Adverbs are words that describe or modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.

Note: Use of adverbs vs. use of adjectives is tested on the SAT and ACT. Therefore, it's important to be able to understand what the adverb or adjective is modifying, to make sure that it is being used correctly.

Examples

He ran quickly down the street. Quickly describes how he ran. (Adverb describing verb)

She was very happy with the present. Very describes how happy the girl was. (Adverb describing adjective)

Stop talking so loudly! So describes how loudly the person is talking. (Adverb describing adverb)

 

How Are Adverbs Formed?

Many adverbs are simply formed by adding the ending -ly to an adjective

Examples

careful → carefully

easy → easily

quiet → quietly

 

However, some adverbs are formed irregularly:

Adjective

Adverb

good

well

fast

fast

hard

hard

late

late

early

early

daily

daily

straight

straight

wrong

wrong OR wrongly

 

Example

The good girl drives very well.

Good is an adjective describing the noun girl; well is an adverb describing the verb drives. This is one of the most commonly confused adverbs, so make sure to memorize it.

Remember if you see good in a sentence, it must be describing a noun, not a verb.

Examples

I did good on the test. = INCORRECT

I did well on the test = CORRECT

I daily receive a daily newspaper.

 

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The daily Daily.

 

Of course, nobody would really speak this way because it’s redundant. But it shows that daily can be an adverb describing the verb receive, and also an adjective describing the noun newspaper.

Example

He woke up late and then had to take a hard test.

Late is an adverb describing the verb woke up; hard is an adjective describing the noun test.

Example

The late boy worked hard on the test.

Late is an adjective describing the noun boy; hard is an adverb describing the verb worked.

 

Challenge question: what is the error in this sentence?

 

Because our casserole was smelling surprisingly badly as it baked, the food science teacher
                                                                         A
came over to ask us what we had put in it. No error.
                                    B                    C          D            E

 

The answer is (A). Why? This could be confusing because “badly” is a correctly formed adverb. However, we don’t need an adverb, we need an adjective. “was smelling” is here used as a linking verb, and therefore we need a predicate adjective to tell us what it smelled like. “Surprisingly” is ok as it is because it is an adverb that should be modifying an adjective. Here is how it would look when corrected: “Because our casserole was smelling surprisingly bad as it baked…..”

If left as is, badly would have to be describing “was smelling”, which would imply that the casserole has a poor sense of smell.

 

Prepositions

What Are Prepositions?

Prepositions are words that show where someone or something is, or tells when something is happening. They can also be used to show a few other relationships, such as to whom you give something, or if you do something with or without something else.

 

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Common Prepositions

Here are some of the most common prepositions in the English language:

about

above

across

after

against

along

amid

among

around

at

atop

before

behind

below

beneath

beside

between

beyond

but (meaning except)

by

concerning

down

during

except

for

from

in

inside

into

like

near

of

off

on

onto

out

outside

over

past

regarding        

since

through

throughout

to

toward

under

underneath        

until

up

upon

with

within

without

 

 

Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase is a phrase (group of words) that includes AT LEAST a preposition and a noun or pronoun, which is known as the object of the preposition. It is not important to know this terminology, but this is an important concept to understand.

When using a pronoun as part of a prepositional phrase, make sure that it is in the objective case.

Examples

Give the cake to me! CORRECT

Give the cake to I! INCORRECT

Usually this kind of mistake will sound incorrect to native English speakers - hopefully the above example did. But some are trickier, usually those involving I vs. me as part of a compound object.

Examples

He went to the mall with Sarah and I. INCORRECT

He went to the mall with Sarah and me. CORRECT

The report was given by him and I. INCORRECT

The report was given by him and me. CORRECT

If you're having problems, try taking out the other part of the compound object. This can help make the correct form of the pronoun more obvious. 

Example

He went to the mall with Sarah and me. CORRECT

 

Often the SAT and ACT will add unnecessary prepositional phrases to sentences to try to make errors less obvious. Feel free to cross out prepositional phrases in order to make sentences easier to analyze.

Here is an example SAT question. Identify the error in this sentence:

 

Anne Tyler’s novel The Accidental Tourist features a character whose obsession with saving
                                                                               A                             B                               C
time and money are absurd, yet somehow plausible. No error.
                               D                                                                 E

 

Now look with a prepositional phrase crossed out:

 

Anne Tyler’s novel The Accidental Tourist features a character whose obsession with saving
                                                                              A                             B                               C
time and money are absurd, yet somehow plausible. No error.
                               D                                                                 E

 

After crossing out the prepositional phrase, it becomes much more obvious that “obsession are absurd” is incorrect.

 

Prepositions in Idioms

Many prepositions have to be used in a certain way with certain phrases. This is not because one preposition is grammatically more correct, but because certain phrases in English are idiomatically correct because they have always been said a certain way.

For example, we would say: “She fell in love with him.” We would never say, “She fell towards love at him.”

We would say, “He is hard at work.” We would never say, “He is hard in work” with the same meaning in mind.

For a full breakdown of the how the SAT uses idioms, see this guide.

 

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Conjunctions

What are Conjunctions?

Conjunctions are words that link ideas together. There are three main types of conjunctions: coordinating, subordinate, and correlative.

 

Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are probably the conjunctions that you are most familiar with. There are seven: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

You can remember these with the acronym FANBOYS:

 F 

 for

 A 

 and

 N

 nor

 B

 but

 O

 or

 Y

 yet

 S

 so

 

Coordinating conjunctions can be used to join similar words, phrases, or clauses. The most commonly used conjunction is “and."

Examples
 

Joining words: John and Kim went to the store.

Joining phrases: The mouse ran out the door and through the garden.

Joining clauses: The mouse ran out the door, and I followed it.

Joining clauses: I love him, but he hates me.

 

body_fanboys.jpg

A different kind of fanboys (and girl)

 

Coordinating conjunctions can also be used to join two independent clauses. An independent clause is something that can stand on its own as a sentence.

Example

           subject+verb   +CONJ +        subject+ verb

The professor paced,     but        the student  sat quietly. 

“The professor paced” and “The student sat quietly” could both be independent sentences.

 

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions are used to join a dependent clause to an independent clause. An independent clause is a clause that can stand on its own as a sentence - it expresses a complete thought. A subordinate clause is a clause that cannot be a sentence on its own. 

Usually, a subordinate clause will describe either the background circimstances of the independent clause or will give more detail about one part of the independent clause.

There are a lot of subordinate conjunctions, but some of the more common ones include:

after    

although     

because   

even though   

if

once

since

though

unless

until

when

whenever

where

wherever

while


You can use the following structures to form sentences with dependent and independent clauses:

(subordinating conjunction + dependent clause) , (independent clause).

Example

Since she loved chocolate, she ate the whole box of candy.

(independent clause) + (subordinating conjunction + dependent clause).

Example

She ate the whole box of candy because she loves chocolate.

 

body_chocolates.jpg

 

Sometimes, a subordinate conjunction and dependent clause can come in between parts of the independent clause.

Example

Sonja, because she loves chocolate, eats it every chance she gets.

 

Correlative Conjunctions

These are very similar to coordinating conjunctions, but they must always be used in pairs. These pairs are worth memorizing because occasionally the SAT and ACT will test these to see if you know which words belong together.

both...and

either...or

neither…nor

not only...but also

whether...or

Examples

Both my sister and I went to the park.

Do you either want to go dancing or go to the gym?

The soup contains neither onions nor garlic. 

 

Best Overall Tip for Conjunctions

The SAT and ACT like to test parallel structure in sentences. When two or more things are linked by a conjunction, remember that they should have the same general structure. For more information on parallel structure and how it is tested, see this post.

Examples

Mike likes biking and to swim. INCORRECT

Mike likes biking and swimming. CORRECT

Mike likes to bike and to swim. CORRECT

 

She searched outside and under the stairs. INCORRECT

She searched outside the house and under the stairs. CORRECT



What’s Next?

You’ve refreshed the basics of grammar, so now it’s time to dive into the harder concepts: See this guide for all the other grammar rules tested on the ACT and on the SAT.

Want to know what you are up against? Here is exactly what you will find on the Writing SAT and on ACT English.

Want some pointers as you study? Check out 8 key strategies for doing well on SAT Writing, and 5 critical concepts you need to master for ACT English.

Aiming high? Read our famous guides for a perfect 800 on SAT Writing and a 36 on ACT English.



Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Mary Ann Barge
About the Author

Mary Ann holds a BA in Classics and Russian from the University of Notre Dame, and an MA from University College London. She has years of tutoring experience and is also passionate about travel and learning languages.



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