Subject Verb Agreement

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5/26 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. 

Always read the sentence and try to make a prediction about the answer before you look at the answer choices. This will help you narrow down the answers and quickly select the correct one.

All of the ingredients for Pablo’s secret chocolate chip cookie recipe, which included the special dark chocolate, was available in his mother’s pantry.

As always, we want to predict our answer before we look at the answer choices. Doing so will help us to feel more confident in our answer when we see a choice that matches our prediction. In this case, the test makers are trying to trick us by separating the subject and the verb. The subject is the ingredients not the recipe and, therefore, the correct verb is were not was. This is a classic trick that is used on the SAT. By separating the subject and the verb, the test makers try to confuse you. It would be correct to say "the recipe was available in . . . " but in this case, it the "ingredients" that "were available in . . . ". Additionally, if we look closely we can see that the word "which" is ambiguous. We don't know if it is the "recipe" or the "ingredients" that "included the special dark chocolate". We can predict that the correct answer will probably have the verb "were", and also fix the ambiguity brought about by the improper use of the word "which". Now it's time to look at the answer choices and see which one has the proper subject and verb agreement (and eliminates the ambiguity).

(A) which included the special dark chocolate, was

(B) which included the special dark chocolate, they were

(C) including the special dark chocolate that was

(D) including the special dark chocolate, being

(E) including the special dark chocolate, were

Remember that choice (A) is exactly the same as the sentence originally appeared in the question. Since we already know there is an error we do not need to read choice (A) and we can immediately cross it off. (B) has an unnecessary  "they". (C) still has the verb "was", since you would not say "the ingredients that was" it won't work either. Answer choice (D) uses the word "being". On the SAT you will almost never want to use an answer choice with the word "being". In this case, only choice (E) matches our prediction and that is the correct answer.

On, 75% of the responses were correct.

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