I was going through two questions on an ACT Practice test and was wondering about the choice of punctuation.

Problem 1:

To add to the confusion, every New Year's Day a person according to this Korean counting system, becomes a year older, regardless of his or her actual birthday.

According to the test, there should be a comma between person and according. Can anyone explain why?

Problem 2: Other letters are solemn; speaking of relatives and friends who had died.

According to the test, the semi-colon should be replaced with a comma. However, I thought that there are two independent clauses, so there should be a semi-colon or period. Please explain why there is a comma.


  • The answers are pretty straightforward if you review examples on restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses.
    – Stu W
    Jun 23, 2017 at 1:57
  • So in the first example is the information non-essential making it a nonrestrictive clause?
    – G.B
    Jun 23, 2017 at 2:16

1 Answer 1


The comma sets off nonessential information. The phrase according to this Korean counting system may be removed without altering meaning or clarity. The same applies to your second example - which means the comma, rather than the semicolon, should be used.

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