Writing: 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.  

Read the entire sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then focus in on the underlined portion, and evaluate it using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.

The first public botanical garden in the United States, the Elgin Botanic Garden in New York City was established to provide plant materials for studying by medical students.

The underlined portion of the sentence should sound awkward and wordy to you.  Look at the phrase “by medical students.”  You normally use the word “by” with a finished product.  For example, a book is “by an author,” but these medical students are just studying.  This sentence concerns the reason for something's existence so you know that how you use the word "for" will be important   Why are the plants provided?  The primary reason that they are there is that they are for medical students.  Others can also study these plants, but they are intended for medical students.  The correct answer will probably have the preposition “for” followed by “medical students.”

(A) for studying by medical students
(B) for medical students to study
(C) to medical students for their study
(D) for the study of medical students
(E) that medical students will study

(A)  This answer choice matches the awkward original.  Eliminate it.
(B)  This answer choice matches your prediction, and it is clear and concise.  Keep it.
(C)  This answer choice is not glaringly incorrect, but it is not as concise as it could be.  You can construct the sentence so that the pronoun “their” is unnecessary.  Eliminate this choice.
(D)  This answer choice subtly changes the meaning of the sentence.  Now it seems as if the medical students are being studied!  Eliminate this choice.
(E)   This answer choice seems okay, but remember that the original sentence is about the purpose of the plants.  The plants should be there for a specific group of people or a specific reason.  This answer choice makes the medical students of secondary importance and does not adequately indicate the purpose of the plant materials.  The park seems as if it was established simply to provide plants.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).

On, 72% of the responses were correct.

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ACT Question of the Day:

The ACT English questions are structured a little differently than the Grammar questions on the SAT, but they test the same rules.  Check out this question:

The RCA executives who created the 
powerful NBC network were right to see that
sizable profits would come from this new medium.

Choose the best alternative for the underlined part.

(B) which
(C) having
(D) as

To answer this question correctly, all you have to know is that executives are people.  When you refer to people you use the word “who.”

The correct answer is (A).

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