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.

Each day, there are over four million people who take the subway in New York.

A.  Each day, there are over four million people who take

B.   Each day, there is over four million people who take

C.  There are over four million people each day who take

D.  Each day, over four million people take

E.  Every day, there are over four million people taking


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.  When you first read the sentence, did you see any errors?  Hopefully not, because this sentence is grammatically correct.  However, there is something about the sentence that can be improved.  You should have noticed an expletive construction.  Expletive constructions introduce the subject after the verb rather than before it.  In this case, the construction is There + are (verb) + people (subject).  Remember that your Knowsys handbook tells you to avoid expletive constructions whenever possible.  Look down at your answer choices to see if any of them put the subject before the verb.  Only one does!  

A.  This choice matches the original sentence, which had no error.  However, you need to check the rest of the choices before selecting your answer.

B.  The subject does not match the verb in this choice: There + is + people.  You would never say "There is people!"  Eliminate this choice.

C.  This choice moves "each day" from the beginning of the sentence to the middle of the sentence.  This does not improve the sentence because now there are additional words between "people" and the part of the sentence modifying what kind of people ("who take the subway").  Remember, modifiers should be as close as possible to the words that they modify.  Eliminate this choice.

D.   This choice fixes the expletive construction by removing "there are" and "who."  Now the subject "people" is before the verb "take."  In the original sentence, the word "take" could not act as the main verb because it was part of a modifying phrase.  Notice that you have eliminated a "be" verb ("are") and made the sentence more concise.  This is the best choice yet!  Check the last choice before selecting this one.

E.  The words "every day" are not a significant improvement over "each day."  This choice also adds an unnecessary "-ing" verb format.  Eliminate this choice.


The correct answer is (D). 

This is a medium level question.


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