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Sentence Structure

Writing: Improving Sentences

Part of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select Choice A.

First, read the sentence to see if anything sounds wrong. Predict by trying to correct the error. Then, match your prediction to the answer choices. Focus on differences among the answer choices to help you narrow down your options.

Unlike an acoustic guitar, whose hollow body acts as a sound box to project sound, there is almost no sound when a solid-body electric guitar is not amplified

The underlined section starts right after a comma, so consider what needs to be there. "Unlike an acoustic guitar" is an introductory phrase, and "whose hollow body acts as a sound box..." is a relative clause (it has a subject and a verb, and it relates to or describes one word in the sentence). Neither of them contains the subject of the sentence. After an introductory phrase, the very next independent noun is the subject of the sentence, so the first thing you will need to do is replace "there" with "guitar."  


Now look at the answer choices:
(A) there is almost no sound when a solid-body electric guitar is not amplified
(B) there is not an amplification system, so a solid-body electric guitar makes almost no sound
(C) an amplification system is needed for solid-body electric guitars, if they are to make much sound
(D) the electric guitar’s solid body makes it have almost no sound without the aid of an amplification system
(E) the solid-body electric guitar is almost soundless without the aid of an amplification system

Based on your prediction, you can eliminate A, B, and C. Focus next on the differences between D and E to choose the best answer. The phrase "makes it have almost no sound" is awkward when compared with "almost soundless," so E sounds better and is the best choice.

Unlike an acoustic guitar, whose hollow body acts as a sound box to project sound, the solid-body electric guitar is almost soundless without the aid of an amplification system.

On sat.collegeboard.org, 59% of responses were correct.

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