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Idioms

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 underlined portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  When you think you have identified an error, mark it and quickly check the other answer choices.

Except for the phonograph, the performances of great musicians and the voices of famous people would have been lost to historyNo error

(A) Did the sentence sound strange to you when you read it?  Paraphrase it in your mind.  The sentence should convey the meaning that if there was no phonograph, we would not know how past musicians sounded.  However, there is an inappropriate word choice.  In order for the meaning of this sentence to be clear, the words “except for” must be replaced with the word “without.”  Mark this error and quickly check the other underlined portions.

(B) The preposition “of” is idiomatically correct following the word “performances.”  In addition, the modifier “great” is placed close to the word it modifies, “musicians.”  There is no error here.

(C) Many students incorrectly write “would of been” when the idiomatically correct phrase is “would have been.”  This sentence does not include that error.  There is no error here.

(D)  The words “lost to history” clearly and concisely convey the idea that these sounds would only have occurred in the past if the phonograph did not allow us to continue to hear them in the present.  There is no error here.

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

The correct answer is (A).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 53% of the responses were correct.

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