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SAT Writing: Improving Sentences

Improving Sentences

Select the choice that results in the best sentence – the sentence that follows the requirements of standard written English and communicates effectively.

Neither the conductor nor the orchestra were sure whether to continue as the commotion in the audience became louder and louder.

A.  were sure whether to continue as the commotion in the audience became louder and louder

B.  were sure if they should continue as the commotion in the audience became louder and louder

C.  were sure to continue as the commotion in the audience was louder

D. was sure whether to continue as the commotion in the audience became louder and louder

E.  was sure if he should continue as the commotion in the audience became louder and louder

 

The Knowsys Method

Read the entire sentence carefully, listening for errors.  Then focus on the underlined part.  Evaluate it by checking it against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  If you find an error, use that error to quickly eliminate any answer choices that do not fix the problem you found.

The grammar rule that is tested here is subject and verb agreement.  Your Knowsys handbook gives you rules for dealing with a compound pair.  When you see the words "neither" and "nor" or "either" and "or," the verb must agree with the last subject in the pair.  The compound pair in this sentence ends with "the orchestra."  You would never say "the orchestra were" because when a group as a unit is in view, you must use a singular verb.  Change "the orchestra were" to "the orchestra was" and look down at your answer choices.

Immediately eliminate A, B, and C because they do not correct the subject and verb agreement error that you found. 

D.  This answer choice fixes the error that you found.  Keep it.

E.  This answer choice fixes the error that you found, but it introduces a new error.  It exchanges the word "whether" for the word "if."  Only use "if" if you have a conditional statement!  Here the question is whether (or not) to continue an action.  Eliminate this choice.

 

The correct answer choice is (D). 

This is a medium level question. 

 

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