Blog

Prepositions

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.

Remember to read the sentence first and make a prediction to improve the sentence. Then check your prediction against the answer choices.

The gong, believed to have originated in Western Asia, reached China in the sixth century, where it continues to be used for a wide range of purposes, including as a military signal, a rhythmic accompaniment for vocal performance, and a ritual instrument.

Does anything pop or grab your interest? Besides the interesting tidbit of Chinese culture, that is. In this sentence, nothing should stand out as wrong or strange because the selection follows all the rules of grammar. The predicate "including" introduces a long modifier for the word "purposes." The preposition "as" is needed to describe the purposes for which the gong is used. It is possible that A is the correct answer, but be sure to check the other options before committing that choice to your answer document.

A) including as

B) which include

C) which includes

D) including

E) they include as



Choice B omits the necessary preposition "as" and is needlessly wordy. Even if "as" were included, the sentence is just as correct without "which" as with it.

You can eliminate C along with B; it adds a subject-verb agreement error to the mix. The plural noun "purposes" does not agree with the singular verb "includes."

D is tempting. It maintains "including," making the rest of the sentence a modifier as in the original, but it leaves out "as." This is the most common wrong answer because it is so similar to the original phrasing, but consider what the sentence would sound like without "as."

The gong, believed to have originated in Western Asia, reached China in the sixth century, where it continues to be used for a wide range of purposes, including a military signal, a rhythmic accompaniment for vocal performance, and a ritual instrument.

Now abbreviate the sentence to see what it is really saying: The purposes of the gong are a military signal, a rhythmic accompaniment, and a ritual instrument. It does not make sense to say that these are the purposes of the gong, but it does make sense to say that the purpose of the gong is to be used as these things. Therefore, choice D is wrong.

Finally, you can eliminate E because it introduces a sentence structure error. Inserting the pronoun "they" would turn the end of the sentence into a clause instead of a modifying phrase, but the clause is preceded only by a comma. A conjunction or semicolon would be needed to separate two clauses.

The correct answer is A.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 24% of responses were correct.


Want more help with grammar? Visit myknowsys.com!