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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. 

Read the entire sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Quickly check the underlined portions against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Identify and mark any error, then quickly check the remaining underlined portions.

A meteorite shows an enormous variation in size, from micron-sized dust particles filtering slowly through the atmosphere to giants weighing many tons. No error

This sentence demonstrates just how important it is to read the entire sentence carefully before looking at the underlined portions.  If you only look at the underlined portions, you will not find an error.

(A)  includes a subject and verb, and they agree in number.  (B) includes the correct prepositional idiom for “variation in size” and also includes the “from” that precedes the “to” in the idiom “from x to y.”  (C) includes the modifier for filtering, “slowly,” placed as close to the modified word as possible.  (D) includes a parallel verb ending in “ing” that matches the earlier use of “filtering,” and it also correctly includes the count word “many” to describe tons, which can be counted, rather than the non-count word “much.”   If you have not read the whole sentence carefully, (E) looks like the correct answer choice.

However, if you read the whole sentence, you will notice that there is a comparison involving different sizes of meteorites, from tiny ones to enormous ones.  You have multiple tiny “particles” and multiple “giants,” so you must also have multiple meteorites.  Look back at answer choice (A).  Instead of “A meteorite shows,” you need “Meteorites show.”

The correct answer is (A).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 40% of the responses were correct.

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