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The search for evidence of the earliest Americans is still ongoing. National Geographic published this article a few years ago, documenting revisions to the theory of the Bering land bridge.  

4/14 Improving Sentences

Part or all 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 carefully and make a prediction before you look at the answer choices. This is more efficient than simply comparing the answer choices. Also, avoid looking at choice A. Since it is the same as the original sentence, reading it is a waste of your time.

The North American continent, first colonized by people from Siberia, crossing the now sunken land bridge between Siberia and Alaska about 15,000 years ago.

First, read the sentence to see whether anything sounds wrong. This sentence should sound strange because it is lacking a main verb. "Colonized," "crossing," and "sunken" are all participles and are not used as verbs. Look at the answer choices to find an option that includes a main verb.


A) The North American continent, first colonized by people from Siberia, crossing

B) People from Siberia first colonized the North American continent, who crossed
Choice B includes the main verb "colonized," but misuses the preposition "who." "Who" in this version of the sentence refers to "the North American continent," but "who" should only refer to people. Eliminate B.

C) First colonized by people from Siberia was the North American continent, they crossed
This clause (up to the comma) is not only passive voice, it is in reversed order. No one speaks this way except for Yoda. Eliminate C.

D) First colonized by people Siberia, who crossed the North American continent, 
This phrasing does not include a main verb, and it changes the meaning of the sentence. The Siberian nomads did not cross the North American continent, they crossed the land bridge. Eliminate D.

E) The North American continent was first colonized by people from Siberia, who crossed
This version of the sentence is still passive ("the continent was colonized" instead of "people colonized the continent"), but it is in the correct order for standard English. It also includes a main verb, "was colonized," that agrees with the subject. E is the correct answer.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 78% of responses were correct.


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