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Pronouns

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Sometimes fact can sound like fiction, and produce an extremely interesting current event for your SAT essay.  Scientists have found a way to make a tiny cylinder invisible, creating a lot of excitement about the possible applications of such a feat.   Think about this accomplishment in terms of planning, creativity, imitation, and technology.  How could you relate this article about a current event to past SAT essay prompts?

11/13 Identifying Sentence Errors:  Pronouns

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.  Then check each underlined portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  If you find an error, mark it and quickly check the remaining underlined words.

Whether the Sumerians were the first people to develop writing is uncertain, but theirs is the oldest known writing system. No error

(A)   Always check to make sure that a verb matches the subject.  The subject, Sumerians, is plural, so “were” is required instead of “was.”  Then check to make sure that the verb is in the correct tense.  This sentence is about the past, so “were” is required instead of “are.”

(B)  It is idiomatically correct to include the preposition “to” before the word “develop.”

(C)  The word “uncertain” denotes that this statement is not definite, clearly conveying the meaning of the sentence.

(D)  When you see a pronoun, you must check to make sure that it refers to a single antecedent and that it agrees with that antecedent.  You already established that the sentence is about certain people, so the pronoun must be plural, and it must show possession.  Think about the “s” on the end of “theirs” as a shorter way to say “their writing system.”  You don’t want to write out “their writing system” because it will make the last portion of the sentence redundant.

(E)  None of the underlined portions of the sentence has an error, so this is the only remaining answer choice.

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 45% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT writing, visit www.myknowsys.com!