Page 1 Language Study Guide for the TABE

How to Prepare for the TABE Language Test

General Information

The TABE Language test covers a lot of ground, from mechanics to word usage, and many concepts in between. Be sure you are familiar with all of these terms and how they contribute to standard written English.

Note: Although our practice questions and flashcards are each divided into two sections, we have combined Language skills into one study guide for your convenience.

Mechanics and Usage

Some of the questions on the TABE Language test simply require you to “fix” things within sentences. You should be familiar with correct grammar and usage in these areas.


Remember that every sentence begins with a capital letter. If you are just beginning a written piece, use a capital letter. If you are in the middle of writing and you use a period (.), the letter right after it should be a capital.

I walked to the park. It was sunny. (correct)
i walked to the park. it was sunny. (incorrect)

Proper nouns should also begin with a capital letter. There are many different types of proper nouns, such as names of people, company names, holidays, historical eras, city names, etc. Complete lists of the many types of proper nouns can be found online.

Capitalize title abbreviations such as Mrs., Dr., etc. Full titles should be capitalized only if used as a proper noun:

Professor Jones was late to class.
The professor was late to class.
Hi, Professor!

Each sentence is correct. Titles like professor, doctor, president, etc should be capitalized only when they are used as someone’s name.


Punctuation includes all those little marks we add to the words in sentences that make the sentence easier to read and understand. If these marks are misplaced, or not used at all, it can be difficult to achieve communication.

Sentence end marks

Every sentence must end with a punctuation mark. The simplest way to look at it is this:
If you are making a statement, end the sentence with a period (.).
If you are conveying excitement, loud volume, or a strong feeling, use an exclamation mark (!).
If you are asking a question, end with a question mark (?).

I’m a graphic designer.
I love graphic design!
Do you know any graphic designers?


Commas (,) are generally used to separate grammatical units and to create brief pauses in sentences. These pauses help the writer to avoid a run-on sentence and help the reader understand the text. When in doubt about whether to use a comma, try reading the sentences out loud to see if there is a natural pause. If so, a comma is more than likely necessary.

After I ran the entire marathon I took a long shower. (incorrect)
After I ran the entire marathon, I took a long shower. (correct)

When writing a sentence, use a comma and a conjunction to separate two independent clauses.

Jim put on his shoes, and he walked to the grocery store.

Commas should also be used to separate three or more items in a list. The comma before the words and or or is known as the Oxford comma.

I love dogs, cats, and rabbits.

There has been some disagreement over whether or not the Oxford comma is necessary, but it is generally safe to err on the side of using it.