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Comma Splice

3/17 Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

First, read through the sentence to see what seems wrong. Check each answer choice against the rules of English grammar, and select the choice that has an error.

It depends on where in the world it is located, an underground electric-railway system may be called a subway, underground railway, tube, or metro. No error 



This sentence should wound wrong because it has a comma splice; that is, there are two complete sentences here joined only by a comma. When there are two complete sentences (independent clauses), they must be joined by a either a semicolon alone or a comma with a conjunction. Based on that, it seems that B is the correct answer. Make sure to check all the answer choices before making a decision.



A. "It depends on"
First, you have a pronoun "it." Every pronoun needs to clearly agree with one antecedent, but this "it" is the first word in the sentence. It has no antecedent. This could be an expletive construction (such as "it is" or "there was") but the verb is "depends" instead of "am," "is," "are," or another linking verb. However, changing the main verb "depends" to the participle "depending" would make this clause dependent instead of independent and improve the sentence. A might be the answer.

B. "located"
"Located" is a verb, part of the verb phrase "is located." Its tense (past) makes sense here because the railroads are in their locations and have been for some time. It is difficult to tell whether the comma is underlined, so take a moment to think of ways to connect these two sentences. Nothing I can think of would produce a better sentence than the one created by changing "depends" to "depending."

C. "may be"
There is a subtle difference between the usage of "may," "might," and "can." "May" is usually used for permission, whereas "might" is used for possibilities. In this sentence, either may or might would be correct.

D. "or"
"Or" is a coordinating conjunction; it connects two or more items of equal importance. Here, it connects the various names of underground railways across the globe.

The answer is A.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 60% of responses were correct.


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