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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.  Evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first problem that you find and check to see which answer choice fixes that problem.

Unlike her sister Heather, who would always put spiders safely outside if she found them in the house, Joanne’s fear kept her from going anywhere near the creatures.

This sentence may sound strange to you the first time that you read it.  If it did not sound strange, ignore the portion of the sentence between the commas and read it again.  The word “unlike” sets up a comparison.  What two things are being compared?  A person (Heather) is being compared to a feeling (Joanne’s fear).  This is not a logical comparison.  A person should be compared with a person.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) Joanne’s fear kept her from going anywhere near the creatures
(B) Joanne’s fear is what kept her from going anywhere near the creatures
(C) fear is why Joanne had not gone anywhere near them
(D) Joanne was too afraid to go anywhere near the creatures
(E) they scared Joanne too much to go anywhere near them

(A) is illogical.  You know that because it matches the original sentence.   (B) and (C) keep comparing a person with the feeling of fear.  (D) compares a person to a person.  (E) adds the pronoun “they.”  Now Heather is compared to “they,” which presumably refers to the spiders.  That does not make sense.

The correct answer is (D).


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

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