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SAT

Unit 11: Lesson 3

Writing: Grammar

Nonessential elements | Quick guide

What are nonessential elements?

What's on the test?

Tips and strategies

Your turn!

Want to join the conversation?

  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user artemis011235
    Even though the SAT doesn't test the minor differences between commas, parentheses, and dashes, when should each of them be used?
    (7 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Hecretary Bird
      Generally, commas are the most formal, followed by parentheses and then dashes. Use commas for items that fit well into the sentence, such as defining phrases:
      Usnavi, my longtime friend from college, recently won the lottery!
      Parentheses are used for elements of the sentence that don't fit as neatly as commas, such as little asides or clarifications:
      Usnavi really did win the lottery (after trying for years and years, of course).
      And finally, dashes do the same thing as parentheses, but with more excitement. You should use dashes to spotlight a certain part of your sentence:
      Usnavi won the lottery, and then donated his winnings--all 5 million dollars of them--to a local charity.
      (27 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Valery Louis
    is the same thing applies when the nonessential elements have "..." around them?
    (5 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user hamzzza2001
    I,having an unbearable love for video games, am really craving to play right now.
    hehe
    Though is this correct grammatically?
    (4 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user mh09196
    can you please give me some more info on this topic
    (1 vote)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Hecretary Bird
      So the SAT will sometimes test you about the punctuation around nonessential phrases, which are phrases whose meanings aren't integral to the logic of the sentence. On the SAT, these phrases will be attached by either commas, dashes, or parentheses to the rest of the sentence. If the phrase starts or finishes the sentence, there's only 1 comma/dash. If its in the middle of the sentence, there are a pair of the same punctuation marks (2 commas, open/closing parentheses, 2 dashes). Here are some examples:
      Usnavi, my brother from another mother, is an altogether a great human being.
      Running as if he was being chased by lions, Usnavi sped through the shopping mall last Saturday.
      (6 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Cheg Tan
    Are non essential elements always Dependent Clauses?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user ec03107
    Dale Havens, Morgantown's police commissioner is retiring after 35 years of serving the city.
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user MrNun
    so this is the only way we use dashes ? what about hyphens ?
    (1 vote)
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