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Sentence Structure

Link of the Day

The SAT question today is about fossils and bugs.  Old stuff is interesting – really!   Some of you might not enjoy history, so you might not have put much thought into the historical examples you chose for your SAT essay.  This is a mistake!  Find something that interests you, something that you enjoy thinking about, so that you will immediately be able to connect that historical person or event to an essay prompt.  Maybe you cannot memorize military battles or names of rulers.   Maybe you wish you could have squished the first flying bug.  That is fine.  Identify your passion.  If your passion is art, or if you are even remotely interested in looking at art, take a look at this article describing new discoveries about the beginning of artistic endeavors.  Then do your own research.  When did your passion first become important to humanity?

8/30 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.  

Read this sentence carefully, using your knowledge of the Big 8 Grammar rules to decide whether there is an error in the underlined portion.  Remember that this kind of question might include no error or more than one error in the underlined portion.

New analyses of a fossil suggest winged insects having possibly emerged as early as 400 million years ago.

Is there a problem with this sentence?  Some sentences may just sound strange to you.  If you cannot immediately identify the error, try simplifying the sentence before looking at your answer choices.  In this sentence, you can remove a prepositional phrase (“of a fossil”) to see whether the subject and verb match.  “New analyses suggest,” correctly matches, so try simplifying the sentence even further.  You could end up with something like this:

New analyses suggest insects having possibly emerged a long time ago.

Without all the extra words it is easier to recognize the part of the sentence that is incorrect.  Idiomatically, the sentence should say that these analyses “suggest that” this fact is true.  The word “that” is necessary before the statement naming the precise suggestion.  Mark the error you found and read the sentence one more time.  Can you spot another error?  You would never say “insects having possibly emerged a long time ago” and expect others to understand this as a complete statement.  The verb tense is incorrect.  Instead, you would say “insects possibly emerged,” or “insects may have emerged.”  There can be more than one way to fix a sentence, but you are less likely to be distracted by wrong answer choices if you have identified all the problem areas.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) suggest winged insects having possibly
(B) suggest that winged insects may have
(C) suggesting that winged insects, they may have
(D) that suggests winged insects as having possibly
(E) that suggest winged insects to have possibly

You know that (A) is incorrect.  (B) matches your prediction exactly. All the other answers only fix one of the errors in the sentence; they all include the word “that.” (C) adds an unnecessary pronoun that creates sentence structure problems.  (D) and (E) create sentence fragments that lack a main verb.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 81% of the responses were correct.

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