Introductory Phrases

Link of the Day

In the future we will be posting a Link of the Day on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Remember that you can always search through the blog archives to look at previous links. The Link of the Day is a great way to find "Excellent Examples" to prepare for your SAT essay. Simply search the blog for "history," "literature," or "current event" to find relevant links.

7/13 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.

When you are working an Improving Sentences question, read the question carefully and focus on the underlined portion. If you identify an error, make a prediction about how you could fix the error. The correct answer won't always match your prediction, but making a prediction will help you to identify the underlying grammar concept being tested. 

Its fossil record virtually unchanged over 100 million years, the Ginkgo tree is one of the oldest living species of tree.

Look closely at the underlined portion first. "Its" is the correct form of the word (remember that "it's" means "it is" and "its" is the possessive form of "it") because the fossil record "belongs" to the Ginkgo tree. Now, take a look at the first part of the sentence up to the word "years." It is separated from the second part of the sentence by a comma. The first part of the sentence (before the comma) cannot be an independent clause. Also, there cannot be a verb in the introductory phrase (because that would turn the introductory phrase into an introductory clause and that would create a comma splice). As it is written, it is just an introductory phrase and that is grammatically correct. Since you cannot identify an error, look at the other answer choices (remember choice (A) is what is written in the original sentence) and double check that none of them work.

(A) Its fossil record
(B) Its fossil record was
(C) Its fossil record, which is
(D) Its fossil record exists
(E) Its fossil record, because

(B) won't work because it makes the first part of the sentence an independent clause. That creates a comma splice. (C) doesn't work because the verb "is" is in the wrong tense. The fossil record "has been" unchanged for over 100 million years. (D) also won't work because, just like (B), it makes the first part of the sentence an independent clause. (E) just doesn't make sense. Then you would have "Its fossil record, because virtually unchanged over . . . " which you can see just doesn't work.

The correct Answer Choice is (A).

On 41% of the responses were correct.

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