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Comma Splice

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Silk fabric was first developed in China more than 5000 years ago. There are various wild silks that are still being produced today, but most of the commercially available silk comes from carefully cultivating the pupae of the Bombyx Mori, more commonly known as the Mulberry Silk Moth. Each cocoon has about 1 kilometer of silk filament, but it takes 2500 cocoons to produce 1 pound of raw silk! You can learn more about the process of making silk here.

6/1 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.

On Improving Sentences questions, always remember to read the sentence and make a prediction about what changes would correct any errors you find. This prediction will help you eliminate wrong answers and quickly zero in on the correct choice.

The finest quality raw silk comes from the commonly domesticated silkworm, Bombyx moriit feeds on the leaves of the mulberry tree.

The first thing you should notice here is the comma after "Bombyx mori". Since the comma is not underlined, it must be correct. As the sentence stands right now, it is a run on sentence. Notice that "The finest quality raw silk comes from the commonly domesticated silkworm, Bombyx mori," could be a complete sentence on its own. Likewise, "it feeds on the leaves of the mulberry tree." could also be a sentence. Since we have two independent clauses joined by a comma, we have a comma splice. The way to fix this is either to add a coordinating conjunction or to change the second clause to a dependent clause (in general on the SAT try to pick dependent clauses over independent ones). We can now look at the answers and see which one matches our prediction.

(A) it feeds
(B) feeding
(C) they feed
(D) which feeds
(E) having fed

As always, we skip over (A) because we have already looked at the sentence the way it is (and decided that we need to change it). (B) will not work because the verb tense does not match (in general you should be wary of verbs ending in -ing). Answer (C) does not fix the comma splice. (D) uses the word which. Since which is a relative pronoun (which is used to begin a dependent clause) we can be confident that answer (D) works. Even if you are not familiar with the grammar rules, you can verify that (D) works by reading the second half of the sentence to yourself. "Which feeds on the leaves of the mulberry tree" is not a complete sentence so we have fixed the comma splice. (E) will not work because, just like with answer (C), the verb tense does not match.

The correct answer is (D).

On sat.collegboard.com 77% of the responses were correct.

For more help with grammar, visit www.myknowsys.com!