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Pronouns

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Sea stars, frequently misnamed "starfish," are fascinating creatures with no brain, no bones, and no blood. They are best known for their ability to regenerate their own limbs, and are a great example of the ability to adapt to any environment. 

5/11 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, always read the sentence as if none of it were underlined. If something sounds strange or wrong, focus on that. Figure out which underlined part of the sentence you could change to correct that problem. Next, double-check the other underlined sections to make sure that they are correct. Finally, select the correct answer choice.

Among the most widespread of marine animals, starfish and sea urchins inhabit all seas except that of the polar regions. No error

Does anything sound strange? The last part of the sentence should because it has a problem. The word "except" is fine; it is a preposition, and it is used correctly. The same is true of "of," but look closely at the word "that." "That" is a pronoun, which means it must agree with one antecedent in the sentence. "That" refers to the word "seas," which is plural, so it might seem obvious that "that" should be the plural "those" in order to agree. However, because of the context of the sentence, "that" could still make sense. Imagine if the sentence referred to "all the books except that by Mr. Bob," or "all the jellybeans except that in Katie's stomach." The word "except" indicates a separation between the pronoun and its antecedent and creates a strange situation where the two do not actually have to agree, and, of course, this can create ambiguity. This sentence does not refer to books or jellybeans but to seas, specifically those "of the polar regions." If the seas are in both polar regions--that is, on both the northern and southern extremes of the globe--they cannot be the same sea. Since "that of the polar regions" needs to refer to multiple seas, the correct form is "those."



Look at the other answer choices before you mark this one on your answer document.

A: "Among" is a preposition that refers to three or more items or people. For only two, use "between." In this sentence, "among" refers to "marine animals." Since there are hundreds or thousands of different marine animals, "among" is correct.

B: "most widespread of" is an unusual construction that defies certain "normal" rules of grammar, but it is considered correct standard English.

C: "inhabit" is plural and present tense, referring to all the starfishes and sea urchins that live in seas and oceans all over the world. It is used correctly.

The answer is D.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 56% of responses were correct.


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