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Pronouns

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 whole sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then check each portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  If you think that you have found an error, mark it and quickly check the remaining underlined portions of the sentence.

Most states have various levels of football competition in their high schools so that schools with similar numbers of students compete only against themNo error

(A)  Check for subject and verb agreement.  The word “states” is plural, so you need the word “have” and not the word “has.”  There is no error here.

(B)  The word “their” is actually a possessive pronoun.  Where is the antecedent; what does it refer back to?  It refers to the states, and it is plural just like the word “states.”  If you tried to insert the word “its” in here, you would be introducing an error because “its” is singular.  There is no error here.

(C)  The word “similar” modifies the word “numbers.”  The modifier is placed as close as possible to the word it is modifying, so there is no error here.

(D)  Once again, you have a pronoun.  What does the word “them” refer back to?  By now it could refer to a number of nouns, “states,” “high schools” or “schools.”  Pronouns should only refer to one antecedent.  More than one antecedent will make the sentence impossible to interpret.  The word “them” must be changed to “one another” or “each other.” Mark this error.

(E)  This answer choice cannot be correct because you already identified an error.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 57% of the responses were correct.

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