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Modifiers

Link of the Day:

Is competition always a good thing?  Read this article, which explains why there is no such thing as a brontosaurus, before you answer.  What themes other than competition do you see in this historical example?  How could you use this story as an interesting addition to your SAT essay?

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 to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

Concerned that people will click to borrow an e-book from a library rather than click to buy it, library access to the e-book forms of most U.S. publishers' titles is blocked.

Think about the structure of this sentence.  The part of the sentence that is not underlined is an introductory phrase, modifying the part that comes next.  You know that because it does not name the subject of the sentence.  Who is concerned?  You don’t know.  When you have an introductory phrase followed by a comma, the very next independent noun must be the subject of the phrase.  However, in your original sentence, it sounds as if “library access” is what is concerned.  This does not make sense.  Look down in your answer choices for an answer that follows the rule.

(A) library access to the e-book forms of most major U.S. publishers' titles is blocked
(B) it is important to block library access to the e-book forms of most major U.S. publishers' titles
(C) the e-book forms of most major U.S. publishers' titles are blocked from library access
(D) most major U.S. publishers block library access to the e-book forms of their titles
(E) most major U.S. publishers blocking library access to the e-book forms of their titles

(A) You don’t need to read this option because you already found a modifier error in the original sentence.  Eliminate it.

(B) “It” is not who is concerned.  This does not fix the modifier error.  Eliminate it.

(C) “The e-book forms” are also not concerned.  Eliminate it.

(D) “Most major U.S. publishers” would definitely be concerned about sales of e-books.  This fixes the error that you found.  Keep it.

(E) This choice also fixes the original error that you have, but it changes “block” to “blocking.”  The Knowsys rule is to avoid words ending in “-ing” unless they are necessary in the sentence.  In this case, the extra “-ing” is not necessary but creates a sentence structure problem: you no longer have a complete sentence.  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 55% of the responses were correct.

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