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Modifiers

Link of the Day

Traveling is easier than ever today, and many people routinely take vacations in distant places.  Travelers can increase awareness of wonders and issues around the globe, but they can also drastically change the places that they visit.  Take a look at this article about how tourists are changing the feeding habits of stingrays in the Caribbean.  Think about the SAT question, “Can success be disastrous?” in terms of the area’s success in entertaining tourists.  Then think about the broad themes and specific details that could help you use this current event as an excellent example for any SAT essay prompt.

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 carefully, listening for errors.  Then focus on the underlined portion of the sentence and check it against the Big Eight Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate answer choices that do not address that error.

Combining both figurative and abstract elements in his paintings, such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn were greatly influenced by American artist Willem de Kooning, a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement.

The key to this question is realizing that the only part of this sentence that you cannot change is an introductory phrase.  In an introductory phrase, the subject is not clear; you do not know who is doing the “combining,” although you do know that the subject must be male and singular due to the pronoun “his.”  For any introductory phrase followed by a comma, the very next independent noun must be the subject of the sentence.  You can eliminate any answer choice that does not have the subject who is “combining” as the very first independent noun!

(A)  such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn were greatly influenced by American artist Willem de Kooning, a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement

(B)  a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement who greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn was American artist Willem de Kooning

(C)  American artist Willem de Kooning became a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement and greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn

(D)  Willem de Kooning, an American artist who became a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement and greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn

(E) and a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement, Willem de Kooning greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn as an American artist

Explanations:

(A)  This answer choice matches the original.  It follows the introductory phrase with “such painters,” but you know that the subject of this sentence must be male and singular.  Eliminate this choice.

(B)  The words “a key figure” identify the artist “Willem de Kooning,” but you do not learn the name of the artist until the very last part of the sentence.  This choice does not fix the modification error that you found, and it is also wordy and unnatural because it inverts the subject and verb, putting “was” before “Kooning” in an unnecessarily passive structure.  Eliminate this choice.

(C)  This choice fixes the problem that you found in the original sentence.  The first independent noun after the comma is “Willem de Kooning” because the words “American artist” modify how you understand who Kooning is.  The rest of the sentence is clear and free of errors.  Keep this choice.

(D)  This sentence is long, but it is still a fragment.  There is no main verb because everything after the comma describes who Kooning was, but does so without a “to be” verb.  Also, notice that Kooning’s name is alone between two commas.  This construction is generally only used when you are providing an alternative way to address someone or when you are addressing that person directly.  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  This choice is unnecessarily wordy.   One of the issues that the extra words creates is that the words “as an American Artist” are now separated from Kooning and seem more connected with Diebenkorn, changing the meaning of the sentence.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 63% of the responses were correct.

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