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.


My friend, together with her siblings, are playing in the backyard.

A.      are playing in the backyard

B.      is playing in the backyard

C.      were playing in the backyard

D.      has been playing in the backyard

E.       plays in the backyard


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.  Although there are multiple people in the sentence, the subject is "my friend," which is singular.  The first underlined word is the verb "are," which is plural.  You should be able to take out all the words between the two commas and still have a coherent sentence because this information is only of secondary importance to whoever wrote this sentence.  Mark this error and look down at your answer choices. 

A.  This answer choice matches the original sentence, which has an error.  Eliminate it. 

B.  This answer choice contains the singular "is."  Keep this choice.

C.  This answer choice still uses a plural verb, even though it has changed the tense of the verb.  Eliminate it. 

D.  This answer choice changes the meaning of the sentence by changing the tense of the verb.  Eliminate it.

E.  This answer choice may seem to be in a similar tense to the original sentence, but it completely changes the meaning of the sentence.  The original sentence explains that friend is playing in the backyard right now.  This answer choice could simply mean that the friend sometimes, often, or even rarely plays in the backyard.  Eliminate it.


The correct answer is (B). 

This is a medium level question.


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