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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.

Although genetic factors can predispose a person to develop heart disease, doctors say that in most cases proper diet and regular exercise reduces their risk.

A. exercise reduces their
B. exercise has been reducing their
C. exercise, reducing one’s
D. exercise reduce one’s
E. exercise, it does reduce the


Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8 grammar concepts.  

The underlined part of this sentence contains a noun and a verb, so your first thought should be, do the subject and verb agree?  The tricky part of this question is that the verb “reduces” seems to agree with the noun “exercise” at first.  If you look again, however, you will notice that the subject is compound (“proper diet and regular exercise”), so the verb should be plural, and the sentence should read, “…proper diet and regular exercise reduce…”  

The other issue in the underlined portion is the pronoun “their.”  Who are “they”?  Earlier in the sentence, the writer referenced “a person,” so this pronoun should be singular, either “one’s” or “your.”

Look for an answer choice that resolves the subject verb issue and includes a singular pronoun.

A. Choice A is incorrect, so you can eliminate it without reading it.

B.  Choice B still includes the pronoun “they.”  Eliminate this choice.

C.  Choice C includes the pronoun “one,” which is good, but this choice does not resolve the subject verb error properly.  The comma cuts the verb off from the nouns and changes the verb to a participle (a verb that acts as an adjective) for no reason.  Eliminate this choice.

D.  Choice D resolves the subject verb issue and uses the pronoun “one.”  Keep this choice and check the last remaining option.

E.  This choice probably strikes you as incorrect immediately.  What is “it”?  Why did the verb tense change?  What is “the risk”?  Eliminate this incorrect choice.

The correct answer is D.

This is a hard level problem.

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