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Pronouns

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 of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first problem that you find to eliminate wrong answer choices.

Because it lacks water, this makes the area known as Death Valley a desert, but it is by no means devoid of life.

This sentence is awkward and wordy.  The Knowsys handbook advises you to lean towards answer choices that are concise.  Keep this in mind as you look down at your answer choices.

(A) Because it lacks water, this
(B) They lack water, which
(C) Water, the lack of which
(D) Lacking water, it
(E) Lack of water

(A) You do not have to read this choice again because it matches the original sentence.  Eliminate it.  (B) The pronoun “they” has no antecedent in this sentence.  Who is “they?” Eliminate this choice.  (C) This answer creates problems with sentence structure, but it also makes it seem as if the water has life rather than the area, changing the meaning of the sentence.  Eliminate it.  (D) What is the antecedent of “it?”  This is a good example of a random and unassociated “it.”  Eliminate this answer choice.  (E)  This choice makes “lack of water” the subject of the sentence.  It is shorter and clearer than any of the answer choices, and it also eliminates an extra punctuation mark that is present in all of the other choices. 

The correct answer is (E).

On sat.collegeboard.org, 62% of the responses were correct.

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