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.

The reporter that wrote the story won a Pulitzer Prize.

A.      that wrote

B.      which wrote

C.      who wrote

D.      whom wrote

E.       she wrote


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 pronouns.  The underlined part of the sentence explains what the subject of the sentence did.  What is the subject of the sentence?  The reporter.  A reporter is a person.  Your Knowsys handbook tells you that to refer to a person, you should use "who" or "whom," never "that" or "which."  In this sentence the reporter is doing the action (writing) rather than having the action done to her, so you need to use "who" rather than "whom."  Change the "that" to "who" and look down at your answer choices.

A.  This matches the original sentence, in which you found an error, so you can eliminate it immediately. 

B.  Never use "which" to refer to a person.   Eliminate this choice.

C.   This choice correctly refers to the reporter as a person by using the word "who."  Keep this choice and quickly check the remaining choices.

D.  The word "whom" refers to the object of a sentence, not the subject of a sentence.  You would have to rearrange the entire sentence to use the word "whom" correctly:  The reporter is the one to whom the Pulitzer Prize was given.  Note that the reporter in this sentence is not doing the action.  Eliminate this choice because it does not work in the context of your sentence.

E.  The pronoun "she" has the antecedent "the reporter."  Wherever you have a pronoun like "she," you should be able to insert the antecedent.  Essentially, this sentence is saying "the reporter the reporter wrote."  To have the words "the reporter" and then "she" right after is redundant and creates problems with sentence structure.  Eliminate this choice.


The correct answer is (C). 

This is an easy level question. 


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