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Pronouns

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Handcuffs have been used for centuries to restrain prisoners and for other purposes--such as Houdini's magic shows and even as fashion accessories. One of the earliest references to handcuffs is found in the works of Virgil. Since then, a multitude of materials and designs have been used, and handcuffs continue to evolve and change today. 

5/17 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. 

Remember to always read the sentence carefully before you do anything else. Ignore the underlined words and try instead to get a feel for the sentence as a whole. Does anything sound wrong or strange? Identify a way to fix that problem by changing one of the underlined portions. That section of the sentence gives your answer.

Formerly called manacles or shackles, handcuffs consist of two metal rings joined by a short chain; once fastened shut, it requires a key to open. No error

Does anything sound strange to you? Read it again and make a prediction. Then check each answer choice. I'll start with A today--you can jump to your prediction first if you want.



A: "Formerly" is an adverb, which means it modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Here, it modifies the participle "called." A participle is a verb acting as an adjective, so "formerly" is used correctly.

B: The phrase "consist of" consists of a verb and a preposition. "Consist," when used as a verb, is always followed by the pronoun "of." "Consist" is plural in this sentence, which agrees with the plural subject "handcuffs." Eliminate B.

C: "Joined by" is part of the participial phrase "joined by a short chain," which in this case is just a participle ("joined") and a prepositional phrase ("by a short chain"). Phrases can get confusing when they become multi-layered like this, so be careful. "By a short chain" modifies the participle "joined," which in turn modifies the noun "rings." All modifiers agree in number and are placed as close as possible to the words they modify, so C is used correctly.

D: "It requires" includes two words: the pronoun "it" and the verb "requires." "It" is the subject of "requires," so the subject and verb agree. "It" is also a pronoun, so check its antecedent. What word is "it" replacing? "Chain?" No, the chain doesn't require a key. There are no other singular nouns in the sentence, so "it" should be "they" in order to agree with "handcuffs." The answer is D.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 59% of responses were correct.


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