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.

Neither Sarah nor her friend appear like they are optimists.

A.  appear like they are optimists. 

B.  appear to be optimists

C.   appears like they are optimists

D.   appears like optimists

E.  appears to be an optimist


The Knowsys Method

Read the entire sentence carefully, listening for errors.  Then focus on the underlined part.  Evaluate it by checking it against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  If you find an error, use that error to quickly eliminate any answer choices that do not fix the problem you found.

The grammar rule that is tested here is subject and verb agreement.  The first word that is underlined is a verb, so you need to check whether it matches its subject.  This sentence has a compound subject that is connected with the words "neither" and "nor." In this situation the verb must agree with the last subject in the pair.  Try it out:  "her friend appear."  The subject and verb do not match.  You need "her friend appears."  Look down at your answer choices.  You have eliminated A and B.

Now look at the next word in the original sentence.  The word "like" is used for comparisons, but it should only be followed by nouns and pronouns.  This one is followed by a verb.  There is a problem here too.  Think about an optimist.  You either are an optimist, or you are not an optimist.  Idiomatically, you must "appear to be" an optimist.  You have now eliminated C and D.  That only leaves E.  E also makes sense because your verb is singular.  It doesn't make sense to switch from a singular verb to talking about the plural word "optimists," so "an optimist" is correct.


The correct answer is (E).

This is a medium level question.


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