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Idioms

Writing: 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 using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find in order to eliminate wrong answer choices.

One time a candidate for the Democratic nomination for United States president in 1972, Shirley Chisholm won 152 delegates before withdrawing from the race.

This sentence should sound odd to you as you read it.  It does not logically connect the “candidate” to “Shirley Chisholm,” even though the two are the same person.  You need a way to show that Shirley Chisholm was the candidate, uniting these two thoughts into a single precise sentence.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) One time
(B) She was
(C) Being
(D) To be
(E) As

(A)  This answer will not be correct because it matches the awkward phrasing of the original.  You don’t even need to read it to eliminate it.

(B)  This choice does not fix your original problem.  In addition, it creates a comma splice: two independent sentences incorrectly joined by just a comma.  Eliminate it.

(C)  The Knowsys Writing Strategies advise you to avoid the word being.  “Being” implies ongoing action, which generally does not make sense in written sentences.  In this particular sentence, we know that Shirley Chisholm is no longer a candidate because she withdrew from the race.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  This answer choice changes the meaning of the sentence.  Shirley Chisholm did not win delegates before withdrawing from the race in order to become a candidate.  Logically, she must be a candidate before she can win any delegates or withdraw from the race.  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  The word as is the idiomatically correct preposition to show that someone has taken on a specific role in society.  For example, Bob is working as an accountant and Julie is working as a dentist.  In this sentence, you know that Shirley Chisholm must be acting as a candidate in order to win delegates.  This answer choice fixes your original problem by clearly indicating that the candidate and Shirley Chisholm are the same person.

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 69% of the responses were correct.

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