Passage Modification Practice Questions

My 1Mother and Father were both born and raised in 2 Rochester, New York, 3 south from Lake Ontario. As they 4 grow older, my brother convinced them to move to South Georgia to be near him and his 5 wife who, was a doctor. While 6 Mother was impressed with the quality of medical care, the lower cost of living, and the beautiful 7 azaleas she could not handle the heat. All their friends were up North. After two years she decided to move back to Rochester. Soon after their return the city was hit with record snowfalls. “Now God is punishing is for coming 8 back” my mother observed 9factiously. 10 Irregardless, she seemed happier there with their new apartment and old friends.


  2. My mother and father
  3. My Mother, and Father,
  4. My Mother and father


  2. Rochester New, York
  3. Rochester New York
  4. Rochester, New York.


  2. south to Lake
  3. south of Lake
  4. south, Lake


  2. grown
  3. growing
  4. grew


  2. His wife, who was/li>
  3. His wife who was,
  4. His, wife who was


  2. mother
  3. the mother
  4. my Mother


  2. azaleas, she
  3. azaleas. She
  4. azaleas: she


  2. Coming back; my
  3. Coming back.” My
  4. Coming back,” my


  2. Fractiously
  3. Facetiously
  4. Factitiously


  2. Disregarding,
  3. Regardless,
  4. Respective,

Answers – Passage Modification

1. B: “Mother” and “Father” are only capitalized when used as names/proper nouns and/or in direct address, e.g. “Hello, Mother.” In this sentence they are used only as nouns describing relationship, i.e. “My mother and father.” Placing a comma between two nouns joined by the conjunction “and” (C) is incorrect. It is also incorrect to place a comma between the subject phrase (mother and father) and verb phrase (were born). Both words are lower-case; the first is not capitalized (D).

2. A: No change is needed here. A city and state are separated by a comma, and another comma follows the state to separate it from the rest of the sentence. (Note: If the two-letter abbreviation {“NY” in this case} is used for the state, no comma is needed after it.) A comma in between “New” and “York” (B) is incorrect: two-word state names are not punctuated in the middle. No punctuation between the city and state (C) is incorrect. Placing a period after “New York” (D) is incorrect as the rest of the sentence is a phrase and cannot stand alone as a sentence. A period would leave this phrase hanging incomplete.

3. C: The correct phrase indicating direction is “south of Lake Ontario.” The preposition “to” following a directional word like “south” (B) is incorrect, as is the preposition “from” used in the passage. With directional words, a preposition is needed; it is incorrect to substitute a comma (D) for a preposition.

4. D: The correct form is the past tense, “grew.” The rest of the sentence dictates this because the main verb “convinced” is in the past tense, so the dependent clause “as they grew older” must agree. The present tense in the passage is incorrect. The past participle “grown” (B) is incorrect. This would only work with the addition of an auxiliary verb to create the past perfect tense, e.g. “As they had grown older, my brother convinced them…” The progressive tense “growing” (C) is also incorrect. This could only work if, again, an auxiliary verb were added to make it past progressive, e.g. “As they were growing older, my brother convinced them…”

5. B: The correct punctuation is “his wife, who was a doctor.” When the subject is identified, as in “his wife” here, the relative clause “who was a doctor” is nonrestrictive or nonessential: it gives additional but not required information and it set off by commas. If the subject were not identified enough, the relative clause would be restrictive or essential and not set off by commas, e.g. “someone who was a doctor.” It is incorrect to place a comma between the verb (was) and its object (a doctor) (C). It is also incorrect to place a comma between the possessive pronoun (his) and the noun (wife) it modifies (D).

6. A: This is correct as is. “Mother” is capitalized when it is used as a name/proper noun, as it is here. In this sentence it is used the same way as a given name like “Mary.” If it were preceded by “my” or “our” or another modifier, it would be lower-case (B), but as it is used alone as a name, a lower-case initial m is incorrect. The lower-case m would be correct with “the mother” (C), but the usage “the mother” in this passage would be inconsistent with the context. This usage would only be appropriate in something like a case history or police report, e.g. “The child lives with his grandparents because the mother is deceased.” This passage is written from a first-person point of view, using “my” to describe the parents and sibling. Capitalizing “mother” when it is used with “my” as a noun rather than a proper name (D) is incorrect.

7. B: A comma should be placed between the dependent clause (“While Mother was impressed…azaleas,”) and the independent clause (“she could not handle the heat.”), to separate them. Separating them with a period (C) is incorrect because this would leave the initial dependent clause, which cannot stand alone as a sentence, hanging. It is not correct to separate dependent and independent clauses in a sentence with a colon (D). Colons are used to introduce lists of items in lieu of introductory words/phrases, to introduce a complete sentence or independent clause that explains or illustrates the previous complete sentence/independent clause, to introduce longer quotations, and in business letter salutations.

8. D: A comma should be used to separate the end of a short (under three lines) direct quotation from the rest of the sentence, both before and after it (e.g.: She said, “I do,” with a smile.) No comma, as in the passage, is incorrect. A semicolon (B) is incorrect. Semicolons are for separating independent clauses or a series of units with internal commas. The end of the quotation should not be punctuated with a period (C) because this would leave the rest of the sentence, which is not a complete sentence or independent clause, hanging.

9. C: The correct vocabulary word for the meaning intended here is “facetiously,” meaning humorously. It can be discerned from the context that the speaker was making a joke. The word “factiously” used in the passage means divisive or causing dissent, which is the wrong meaning. “Fractiously” (B) means quarrelsome, irritable, or unruly, and also conveys an incorrect meaning. “Factitiously” (D) means in a way that is false, fake, simulated, or artificial. This is also not a correct meaning for this sentence and passage.

10. C: “Regardless,” meaning nevertheless, notwithstanding, or anyway, is the correct choice for the semantic content of this sentence. “Irregardless” in the passage is not a real word as it is a redundant negative (the prefix “ir-” and the suffix “-less” both indicate negation and should not both be used in the same word). “Disregarding” (B) is a real word, but it is a verb form (either the progressive participle or a gerund used as a noun) rather than the adverb needed in this sentence, so it would be ungrammatical here without an object (e.g. “Disregarding this,”). “Respective” (D) has the wrong meaning: “Irrespectively” is a synonym for “regardless” and could be used here, but “respective”/“respectively” means separate/separately or particular/particularly.


Last Updated: June 4, 2019