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Modifiers

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 entire sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

Although hailed as one of the greatest choreographers of his time, Merce Cunningham's company, founded in 1953, consistently gave performances that caused some members of the audience to walk out.

Does this sentence sound odd to you?  Who is a great choreographer?  A choreographer is a person who creates dances, but this sentence seems to say that Merce Cunningham’s company is a great choreographer.   Paraphrase this sentence to clarify its meaning:  Merce Cunningham was a great choreographer, but his company created some terrible performances.  Now look down to see which of your answer choices fixes the error that you found and matches the original meaning of this sentence.

(A) Although hailed as one of the greatest choreographers of his time, Merce Cunningham's company, founded in 1953,
(B) Although Merce Cunningham was hailed as one of the greatest choreographers of his time, his company, founded in 1953,
(C) Founded in 1953, Merce Cunningham's company had one of the greatest choreographers of his time, himself, and
(D) Although hailed as one of the greatest choreographers of his time, Merce Cunningham founded his company in 1953, which
(E) Merce Cunningham's company, founded in 1953, was hailed as one of the greatest choreographers of his time, but

(A) You can immediately eliminate this choice because it matches the original sentence and retains the modification error of describing the company as a great choreographer.

(B) This answer fixes the error that you found and matches the original meaning of the sentence

(C) One of the problems with this answer choice is the use of the word “and.”  The conjunction “and” links two similar things.  Does it make sense for a company to have a great choreographer and terrible productions?  No!  This answer choice lacks a word signaling contrast such as “although” or “but.”  Eliminate this choice.

(D) The contrast comes at the wrong place in this answer choice.  The sentence seems to contrast being a great choreographer with founding a company in 1953.  If you are a great choreographer, it does not matter when you found a company; it should still create good performances.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This choice retains the error of the original sentence in that it describes a company as a great choreographer.  

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 51% of the responses were correct.

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