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Sentence Structure

Writing:  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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Next, quickly check the underlined portions of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Identify and mark any error that you find, but be sure to check all the answer choices before you select one.

The United States is the largest producer of cranberries and cranberry products, most of them are consumed there and in Canada. No error

Reading this sentence as a whole is vital to understanding the problem with it.  This sentence is actually two sentences incorrectly joined by just a comma: a comma splice.  A problem with sentence structure is not going to be noticeable if you just focus on the underlined portions of the sentence.  You cannot simply insert a semicolon in this sentence, so you must find a way to change one of the underlined portions of the sentence to create a dependent clause.

(A)   The underlined verb “is” matches the subject of the sentence, “United States,” because both are singular.  The United States is one country.  There is no problem here.

(B)  The word “largest” modifies the word “producer,” and it is as close as possible to the word it modifies.  There is no error here.

(C)  Remember that the problem with your sentence is structural.  You have two complete sentences each with a subject and verb.  The word “them” functions as the subject of the second sentence, but it refers to something already stated in the first sentence.  If you change this word, you can create a dependent clause after the comma.  Try inserting the word “which” into this blank.  It works!  It fixes your problem while maintaining the meaning of the sentence.  Quickly check your other options.

(D)  The word “there” refers to the United States, which has already been explicitly mentioned in the sentence.  There is no error here.

(E)  This is not an option because you found an error as you were reading.

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 44% of the responses were correct.

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