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Extreme Statements

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.

The bottom line here is to figure out the best version of the sentence--and to skip choice A. Since it's exactly the same as the original sentence, reading it would be a waste of time. Make a prediction about the answer choice if you can; sometimes, that is very hard to do.

There are many famous quotations previously credited to "Anonymous," researchers have discovered that they were in fact written by female authors.

The entire sentence is underlined! Do not let that intimidate you. It does mean that any kind of error could be introduced in the answer choices, but your first task is still the same: read for any errors in the original sentence. This sentence, fortunately, has one that is easy to spot if you know the rules of grammar. This sentence is made up of two independent clauses--groups of words that could stand alone as their own sentences. This selection could read, "There are many famous quotations previously credited to "Anonymous." Researchers have discovered that they were in fact written by female authors." The original sentence has two problems. First, it states that all quotes previously attributed to "Anonymous" were actually written by female authors. This is an extreme statement and almost certainly false. Second, the sentence joins two independent clauses with only a comma. Check the answer choices for one that connects these two clauses with a comma and a conjunction or with a semicolon and leaves some "Anonymous" quotes anonymous.


B) Many famous quotations that were in fact written by female authors were previously credited to "Anonymous" and researchers discovered this.
This version of the sentence corrects the absolute statement in the original as well as the sentence structure problem, so it could be the correct answer, but it sounds awkward. Leave it open as a possibility.

C) Researchers have discovered many famous quotations that were previously credited to "Anonymous," they were in fact written by female authors.
This option adds the implication that one group of researchers discovered a pile of anonymous quotations and does not correctly join the two independent clauses. Eliminate it.

D) Researchers have discovered that many famous quotations previously credited to "Anonymous" were in fact written by female authors.
One of the two independent clauses has been transformed into a relative clause by "that." Now the entire clause acts as the direct object of "researchers have discovered," and the sentence sounds much more sophisticated. than the original. Moreover, the sentence does not suggest that all anonymous quotes have been researched and attributed to female authors. D is another possibility.

E) The discovery of many famous quotations previously credited to "Anonymous" but in fact written by female authors were made by researchers.
This version compounds several different problems on top of those present in the original. It adds passive voice and a subject-verb agreement error: "The discovery... were made..."

D is the correct answer

On sat.collegeboard.org, 83% of responses were correct.



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