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Sentence Structure

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.

Mexican painter Frida Kahlo drew inspiration from her Mexican heritage, where she incorporated native and religious symbols into her work.

The underlined portion contains the word “where.”  “Where” refers to a place; however, there are no places in the sentence.  “Mexican heritage” is not a place!  Mexico would be a place.  Eliminate the “where” and you have created a comma splice.  A comma splice is two complete sentences with separate subjects and verbs that are incorrectly joined with a comma.  The easiest way to fix this new problem is to eliminate the underlined subject “she” and change the verb “incorporated” to make this sentence flow better.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) where she incorporated
(B) in which she incorporated
(C) incorporated
(D) incorporating
(E) therefore, she incorporated

(A) This answer choice always matches the original.  Eliminate it without reading it.

(B) This answer changes the meaning of the sentence and makes it unclear.  It sounds as if Frida is incorporating symbols into her heritage and somehow creating her own heritage.  Eliminate it. 

(C) You cannot just put the word “incorporated” into this blank.  You would need “and incorporated” to avoid sentence structure problems.  Eliminate it.

(D) Changing “incorporated” to “incorporating,” creates a dependant clause that cannot stand alone.  You no longer have the incorrect relative pronoun “where” and you have fixed the sentence structure problem that resulted from its removal.  This is a clear and concise sentence.  Keep it.

(E) This answer choice is wordy.  It is also incorrectly punctuated.  There should be a semicolon before the transitional word “therefore.”  An entire sentence still comes after the comma, and you must avoid a comma splice.  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (D).


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

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