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Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the most famous and most well-loved authors in the Spanish-speaking world. His autobiography broke records in 2001 as the best-selling book ever. He is known for writing in the genre of magic realism, seamlessly blending the fantastical and the everyday. One of my favorite short stories of his is A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, in which a decrepit old man with wings tumbles out of the sky after a storm and is put on display by the farmers who find him. Soon the farmers begin to charge for admittance and make a handsome profit off the strange old man. Villagers come to debate whether he is an angel or just a strange old sailor who smells like fish. Read and decide for yourself!

4/26 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 sounds better than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

First, read the sentence to see what sounds strange or wrong. Use that as your prediction and look among the answer choices for something that fixes the problem you found.

For both his shorter and longer works of fiction, Gabriel Garcia Marquez achieves the rare feat of being accessible to the common reader while satisfying the most demanding of sophisticated critics.

The biggest problem here is the word "both." Whenever you see the construction "both X and Y," remember that all the words between "both" and "and" need to be duplicated or paralleled after the word "and." The original sentence said "both his shorter and longer works," using "longer" as the parallel word for "shorter" but ignoring "his." Look for an answer choice that uses "both" correctly.


A) For both his shorter and longer

B) For both his shorter, and in his longer,

C) In both his shorter and his longer

D) Both in his shorter and his longer

E) Both his shorter and longer

Choice B adds the word "in" and some unnecessary punctuation. Eliminate it. Choice C places "in" before "both" and correctly replicates the words between "both" and "and." C might be the correct answer, but check the others first. Choice D duplicates the word "his" but ignores "in," so you can eliminate it as well. Choice E drops the word "his" after the "and," so it is not correct either. The answer is C, which has the added benefit of using the more appropriate pronoun "in" to discuss what Marquez accomplishes within his writing. Here is the corrected sentence:

In both his shorter and his longer works of fiction, Gabriel Garcia Marquez achieves the rare feat of being accessible to the common reader while satisfying the most demanding of sophisticated critics.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 67% of responses were correct.


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