Writing: Improving Sentences

Happy Thanksgiving!

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 sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find in order to eliminate wrong answer choices.

They determine the color and flavor of honey by the flowers from which the nectar is taken.

Did you find a problem in the original sentence?  Who is “they?”  Not only is there not an antecedent for this pronoun, but there is also not a reason to have a pronoun or noun here.  There is no group of people (or even animals) who determines the color and flavor of honey; the sentence already tells us that these things are determined by the flowers.  Mark the problem that you found.  Realize that you cannot just take out the word “they” without creating new problems in the sentence.  You will have to rearrange the sentence in order to continue using that verb “determine.”  If you cross out “They determine,” where could you add that verb back into the sentence so that it remains a complete sentence?  Take a look at your answer choices to see whether they address the pronoun problem that you found in the sentence.

(A) They determine the color and flavor of honey by the
(B) Honey’s color and flavor is determined by which
(C) Honey’s color and flavor determined by those
(D) The color of honey, and its flavor, determined by the
(E) The color and flavor of honey are determined by the

(A)  You don’t need to reread this option because it matches the original.  Eliminate it.
(B)  There is an extra and unnecessary “which” in this answer choice.  If you select this answer choice, you will have the word “which” twice in the sentence, confusing the meaning of the sentence.  You did not find an error in the phrase “by the flowers,” so there is no need to change it.  Eliminate it. 
(C)  The word “those” is unnecessary.  Also, remember that the Knowsys Writing Strategies tell you to avoid words that end in –‘s.  It is awkward to say that honey possesses its own color and flavor.  Can honey really possess anything when it is only a product of a process?  Eliminate it. Note: this logic would also have worked to eliminate answer choice (B).
(D)  This choice lacks a verb, and it also makes the flavor of the honey less important than the color of the honey.  That is not true in the original sentence where both are given equal weight.  Eliminate it.
(E)  There are no problems with this answer choice.  It is clear and precise.

The correct answer is (E).

On, 76% of the responses were correct.

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