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Idioms

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 the original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Get an overview of the whole sentence so that you understand the structure and the meaning.  Then evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to eliminate wrong answer choices quickly.  If an answer choice does not fix the error that you found, it must be incorrect.

Lady Day, as Billie Holiday was usually called, was the finest jazz singer of her generation, and it was the opinion of her fans, she was the greatest jazz singer of the twentieth century.

This sentence just sounds awkward, doesn’t it?  Look at how the sentence tries to introduce an opinion by stating “it was” the opinion of her fans.  How do you normally introduce an opinion?  Have you ever typed or texted IMO or IMHO?  Those are acronyms for “in my opinion” and “in my humble opinion.”  Notice that the preposition that introduces an opinion is “in.”  In my opinion…  In her opinion…  In their opinion…  Look down at your answer choices and check whether any use the correct idiom to introduce an opinion. 

(A) it was the opinion of her fans, she was
(B) the opinion of her fans was of her as
(C) her fans had this opinion, she was
(D) for her fans, the opinion was of her as
(E) in the opinion of her fans, she was

(E) is the only answer choice that uses the word “in!”  None of the other choices fix the awkward phrasing of the original.  (A) matches the original phrasing.  (B) uses the phrase “of her as,” which takes the “she was” from the original sentence and makes it awkward.  Idiomatically, it is much more common to say “the opinion of her fans was that she was… (C) would require a colon rather than a comma.  (D) uses the phrase “for her fans.”  This phrase introduces Billie Holiday again (through the perspective of her fans), so something referring to her must come next, either her name or “she.” Instead there is “the opinion was of her.”

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 80% of the responses were correct.

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