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Subject-Verb Agreement

Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

Read the entire sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then go back and quickly check each underlined portion against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.

Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño, who spent much of his life in Mexico and Spain, first achieved international recognition with his novel The Savage Detectives, a story of writers in early 1970s Mexico City who embark on a road trip into the Sonora Desert in search of a vanished poet. No error.

(A) The subject of this sentence is a person, so you must use “who” rather than “that” to describe him.  There is no confusion about who the “who” refers to.  The verb “spent” is also in past tense, which is the correct tense for writing about a person’s past.  There is no error here.

(B) This underlined portion comes after a relative clause, the part of the sentence between two commas.  Ignore that clause and make sure that the sentence still flows naturally.  Now the sentence reads:  Roberto Bolano first achieved international recognition with his novel.  The word “first” modifies “achieved” and is placed as close to it as possible.  The word “achieved” is in past tense because this accomplishment must have occurred in the past in order for it to be written about in this sentence.  There is no error here.

(C) This underlined portion tests your knowledge of idioms.  When a storBottom of Formy is about something, it is correct to say “a story about” or “a story of.”  The two options are interchangeable.  There is no error here.

(D)  The words “in search of” convey the same meaning as the words “to search for” without repeating the “to” from “into.”  There is no error here.

(E)  Having examined each underlined portion of the sentence, you can be sure that this answer is the right choice.  Remember, you are looking for errors, not possible ways to change or revise the sentence.  This sentence has no error.

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 52% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT writing, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Prepositions

Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

Read the sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Quickly check each underlined portion against the Big 8 Grammar Rules, marking any error you find.  Remember, some sentences will not have an error.

Before the end of the semester, each of you needs to meet with your adviser or I to discuss your plans for next year. No error

(A) In this case, the word “before” is a kind of modifier because it tells when the students must meet with their advisers.  It is placed right next to the words it modifies "the end of the semester," so there is no problem with its placement.  (A) has no error.

(B) The phrase “each of you” is idiomatically correct.  (B) has no error.

(C) The verb “needs” should agree with the subject “each of you.”  “Each of you” is singular so “needs” is correct.  If “each of you needs” sounds odd to you, think of it this way: you would say “he needs” and “she needs” rather than “he need” and “she need.”  (C) has no error.

(D) After a preposition, you must always use the word “me” rather than the word “I.”  Look before the underlined “I” and you will find the preposition “with.”   You would say “meet with me,” not “meet with I.”  Mark that error.

(E) This choice cannot be correct because you already identified an error.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 68% of the responses were correct.

For more help with the writing section of the SAT, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Structure

Link of the Day

The SAT question today is about fossils and bugs.  Old stuff is interesting – really!   Some of you might not enjoy history, so you might not have put much thought into the historical examples you chose for your SAT essay.  This is a mistake!  Find something that interests you, something that you enjoy thinking about, so that you will immediately be able to connect that historical person or event to an essay prompt.  Maybe you cannot memorize military battles or names of rulers.   Maybe you wish you could have squished the first flying bug.  That is fine.  Identify your passion.  If your passion is art, or if you are even remotely interested in looking at art, take a look at this article describing new discoveries about the beginning of artistic endeavors.  Then do your own research.  When did your passion first become important to humanity?

8/30 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 this sentence carefully, using your knowledge of the Big 8 Grammar rules to decide whether there is an error in the underlined portion.  Remember that this kind of question might include no error or more than one error in the underlined portion.

New analyses of a fossil suggest winged insects having possibly emerged as early as 400 million years ago.

Is there a problem with this sentence?  Some sentences may just sound strange to you.  If you cannot immediately identify the error, try simplifying the sentence before looking at your answer choices.  In this sentence, you can remove a prepositional phrase (“of a fossil”) to see whether the subject and verb match.  “New analyses suggest,” correctly matches, so try simplifying the sentence even further.  You could end up with something like this:

New analyses suggest insects having possibly emerged a long time ago.

Without all the extra words it is easier to recognize the part of the sentence that is incorrect.  Idiomatically, the sentence should say that these analyses “suggest that” this fact is true.  The word “that” is necessary before the statement naming the precise suggestion.  Mark the error you found and read the sentence one more time.  Can you spot another error?  You would never say “insects having possibly emerged a long time ago” and expect others to understand this as a complete statement.  The verb tense is incorrect.  Instead, you would say “insects possibly emerged,” or “insects may have emerged.”  There can be more than one way to fix a sentence, but you are less likely to be distracted by wrong answer choices if you have identified all the problem areas.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) suggest winged insects having possibly
(B) suggest that winged insects may have
(C) suggesting that winged insects, they may have
(D) that suggests winged insects as having possibly
(E) that suggest winged insects to have possibly

You know that (A) is incorrect.  (B) matches your prediction exactly. All the other answers only fix one of the errors in the sentence; they all include the word “that.” (C) adds an unnecessary pronoun that creates sentence structure problems.  (D) and (E) create sentence fragments that lack a main verb.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 81% of the responses were correct.

For more help with grammar visit www.myknowsys.com!

Modifiers and Verbs

8/3 Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E.

Searching a sentence for a grammatical error may seem like a daunting task because there are so many rules in the English language.  However, if you remember the Knowsys method, you need not be intimidated.  Read the sentence carefully and evaluate each underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  For each blank, ask yourself whether there are any problems.

The results of the study indicate that the new drug is both safer and more effective than was previously assumed.   No error

(A) includes a verb.  The third question from The Big 8 Grammar Rules asks, “Do the subject and verb agree?”  In this sentence the subject is separated from the verb by the prepositional phrase “of the study.”  Ignore this phrase and put the subject and verb together: “results indicate.”  The subject and verb match. 

(B) includes the word “both.”  The function of the word “both” is to emphasize that there are two separate conclusions that can be made based on the results of the study.  “Both” can be completely removed from the sentence and the sentence will still be grammatically correct, but including this emphasis is the author’s choice and not a grammatical error.  The word “both” also indicates that you must check for parallelism between the two following words that are linked by the conjunction  “and” (the sixth rule from The Big 8). The words “safer” and “more effective” both use the same comparative form, so all of the words in portion (B) are acceptable.

(C) draws your attention to the verb “was,” which may look like an error because usually verbs should be in a consistent tense throughout the sentence and because the author has already used “is.” However, the past tense is necessary here because the author is setting up a comparison between present ideas about the drug and past ideas about the drug.

(D) underlines “assumed.” What was assumed? The level of safety and effectiveness of the drug was assumed.  “Assumed” is in the correct tense.

(E) must be correct because there are no errors in the sentence.  Sometimes students get so caught up in finding an error that they forget that “no error” is also a choice.  Do not be afraid to choose “no error;” it is correct about 20% of the time.

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 40% of responses were correct. 


For more help with grammar, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Subject-Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

Teachers and schools have gone back and forth on the value of rote memorization. Some claim that forcing students to endlessly repeat facts and processes only kills their creativity. Others argue that practice is essential to make certain information and tasks automatic--freeing up mental energy for higher-level applications. One value of memorization and repetition is that it can be highly effective as a way to learn facts on your own, without a teacher or classroom. If you've ever used vocabulary flashcards or a multiplication app, you've experienced rote learning! Learn more about the value of memorization here, and sign up for the Knowsys online vocabulary flashcards here

7/31 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 following sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules and predict a correction for any errors that you find.  Remember that after an improving sentences question, choice (A) will always be the same as the original sentence.  Eliminate any answer choices that do not help you towards your goal of creating a clear and precise sentence.

Rote learning, the process of memorizing by repetition, is how many young children learn the alphabet or the multiplication tables.

The underlined portion of this sentence includes a verb.  The third Big 8 Grammar Rule concerns subject and verb agreement.  Think back to this section in your Knowsys book.  You learned that the exam writers use 5 subject/verb tricks to make identifying a subject/verb agreement error more difficult.  One of these tricks is to separate subjects from verbs.  In this sentence, the subject is separated from the verb by an appositive phrase. An appositive phrase is a defining phrase that is set off by commas.  Because this phrase merely defines the subject, you should be able to ignore that portion of the sentence and still have a complete sentence.  You have now simplified the sentence to read: “Rote learning is how many young children learn the alphabet or the multiplication tables.”

You can now easily see that the subject matches the verb.  You can also see that for this to be a complete sentence, the very first word in the underlined portion must be a verb.  You want your subject and verb to be as close as possible, so you can eliminate any answer choices that do not begin with a verb.  

(A) is how
(B) is used for when
(C) this is how
(D) the way
(E) which is used when

You have now eliminated (C), (D), and (E).  You did not find an error in the original sentence, which matches (A), but you must still examine (B) to see if it improves the sentence.  Notice that (B) adds more words to the sentence without making the message any clearer.  The Knowsys method tells you to lean towards choices that are short and concise.  It also tells you not to be afraid to pick a response indicating that there is no error.

The correct answer is (A).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 68% of responses were correct. 


For more help with grammar, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

Listening to audiobooks can be a great way to multitask while you are doing something else (such as mowing the lawn or sitting in the bus on the way to school). If you are interested in listening to some audiobooks (which, by the way, is a great way to improve your vocabulary and find some "excellent examples" for your essay) you can download a huge variety of different audio books here for free. 

6/7 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.  

On Improving Sentences questions, always remember to read the sentence and make a prediction about what changes would correct any errors you find. This prediction will help you eliminate wrong answers and quickly zero in on the correct choice.

Listening to good storybooks sharpen children’s awareness and appreciation for the sounds of spoken language


Since the first underlined word you see is a verb, you should start off by identifying the subject and the verb in this sentence. In this case, the subject is "listening." The verb is "sharpen." If you have trouble seeing that "listening" is the verb, try thinking about what is performing the action. What is it that is "sharpenen[s]?" It must be the "listening" that is performing the action so the subject of the sentence is "listening.At this point you should notice that the verb sounds wrong. You wouldn't say "listening sharpen", you would say "listening sharpens." The test makers are trying to trick you by separating the subject and the verb . You may look at it and think that "storybooks sharpen" sounds correct. The problem is that it is not the "storybooks" that "sharpen children's awareness . . . " It is "Listening" that "sharpens children's awareness . . . " Now that you have a prediction, it's time to take a look at the answer choices below.

(A) sharpen children’s awareness
(B) sharpens children’s awareness of
(C) are what sharpens the awareness of children
(D) sharpens the awareness of children
(E) is to sharpen children’s awareness

As you can see, answer choice (B) matches your prediction exactly. Note that "children" is possessive because it is the "children's awareness and appreciation" that is sharpened by listening. (A) is clearly wrong because it is simply what was originally in the underlined portion. (C) is incorrect because "listening are what sharpens . . ." is clearly not grammatically correct (once again, the problem is subject-verb agreement). (D) is incorrect because of the parallel structure in the non-underlined portion of the sentence. (D) would read "Listening . . . sharpens the awareness of children and appreciation for sounds of spoken language." (E) is incorrect because it changes the meaning of the sentence (even if answer choice (A) is incorrect, the implied meaning of the sentence is still correct and must be preserved in the correct answer choice).

The correct answer choice is (B).

On sat.collegeboard.com 57% of the responses were correct.

For more help with grammar, visit www.myknowsys.com!












Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

Sharks are some of nature's most magnificent predators. They have no bones (only cartilage) and their streamlined bodies allow them to glide through the water at incredible speeds. While sharks have a sinister reputation, in reality they rarely attack people. You can learn more about sharks here.

6/4 Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

For Identifying Sentence Errors questions, always read the sentence and focus on anything that sounds strange or wrong. Determine whether that part of the sentence is actually incorrect, then identify the part of the sentence that, if changed, would correct the error. Double-check that the other sections of the sentence are correct as they are and, finally, mark the correct answer on your answer sheet.

Most of the world’s sharks, living in temperate and tropical regions, though the Greenland shark lives in the cold Arctic waters, and the huge basking shark is at home in the seas around AntarcticaNo error



First, read the question carefully and listen for things that sound wrong. You might notice that B sounds a little strange. Since you see a verb -living- check the subject verb agreement. Here, the subject of the sentence is "sharks". "Living" looks like a verb but, as it is conjugated right now, it is a participle (a verb functioning as an adjective). In other words, the sentence does not have a verb. That means you need to change the word "living" to the word "live" to make sure that the sentence has both a subject and a verb. In this case you only need to spot the error however,  you should always try to predict how you could fix the sentence. This will help you to be confident in your answer.

The correct answer is B.

On sat.collegeboard.com, 69% of the responses were correct.

For more help with grammar, visit www.myknowsys.com!




Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

Recycling can reduce pollution, save energy, conserve natural resources, and even save you money! You can read more about recycling (and learn about government initiatives to increase recycling) here.

5/29 Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

For Identifying Sentence Errors questions, always read the sentence and focus on anything that sounds strange or wrong. Determine whether that part of the sentence is actually incorrect, then identify the part of the sentence that, if changed, would correct the error. Double-check that the other sections of the sentence are correct as they are, and finally mark the correct answer on your answer sheet.


Besides conserving forest resources, recycling produces fewer pollutants than does the conventional pulping and bleaching processes that are normally used to create paper. No error


First, read the sentence carefully and try to see if anything sounds wrong to you. If you have a good ear you may notice that B sounds a little strange. In order to confirm the error look at the verb does and see what the subject is. In this case it is the "conventional pulping and bleaching processes" that the verb refers to. Since our subject is plural, the singular form of the word does does not fit in the sentence. 

Answer choice A is a participle (a verb that acts like an adjective) inside of a prepositional phrase ("Besides... resources"). It is used correctly. 

Answer choice C uses the word that and that is correct since the part of the sentence that follows is essential to the meaning of the sentence (if it could be omitted, the sentence would have used the word "which" preceded by a comma:  "…processes, which").

Answer choice D is an infinitive verb correctly used immediately after a normal conjugated verb. 

The correct answer is choice B.

on sat.collegeboard.org 78% of the responses were correct.

For more help with grammar, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the day

How many of you like to read? Did you know that reading makes you smarter? It might seem obvious that reading is good for you but did you know that it has other benefits besides increasing your knowledge? Reading has numerous benefits from the fairly obvious ones like improved critical thinking and memory, to the surprising ones like stress reduction or improved social skills (tell that to someone the next time they call you a bookworm). You can learn more about the benefits of reading here. If you don't have extra money to go see a movie this summer remember, the public library is free (and air conditioned too)!

5/26 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. 

Always read the sentence and try to make a prediction about the answer before you look at the answer choices. This will help you narrow down the answers and quickly select the correct one.

All of the ingredients for Pablo’s secret chocolate chip cookie recipe, which included the special dark chocolate, was available in his mother’s pantry.

As always, we want to predict our answer before we look at the answer choices. Doing so will help us to feel more confident in our answer when we see a choice that matches our prediction. In this case, the test makers are trying to trick us by separating the subject and the verb. The subject is the ingredients not the recipe and, therefore, the correct verb is were not was. This is a classic trick that is used on the SAT. By separating the subject and the verb, the test makers try to confuse you. It would be correct to say "the recipe was available in . . . " but in this case, it the "ingredients" that "were available in . . . ". Additionally, if we look closely we can see that the word "which" is ambiguous. We don't know if it is the "recipe" or the "ingredients" that "included the special dark chocolate". We can predict that the correct answer will probably have the verb "were", and also fix the ambiguity brought about by the improper use of the word "which". Now it's time to look at the answer choices and see which one has the proper subject and verb agreement (and eliminates the ambiguity).

(A) which included the special dark chocolate, was

(B) which included the special dark chocolate, they were

(C) including the special dark chocolate that was

(D) including the special dark chocolate, being

(E) including the special dark chocolate, were

Remember that choice (A) is exactly the same as the sentence originally appeared in the question. Since we already know there is an error we do not need to read choice (A) and we can immediately cross it off. (B) has an unnecessary  "they". (C) still has the verb "was", since you would not say "the ingredients that was" it won't work either. Answer choice (D) uses the word "being". On the SAT you will almost never want to use an answer choice with the word "being". In this case, only choice (E) matches our prediction and that is the correct answer.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 75% of the responses were correct.

For more help with grammar, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

Westminster Abbey is one of the architectural, cultural, and historical treasures of London. Construction began in the 13th century and did not cease until the 16th. The Abbey is still a church used for regular worship services, and it has seen over a dozen royal weddings and several royal funerals. Look at the left-hand side of the web page for more information about the history of Westminster Abbey. 

5/20 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.

On Improving Sentences questions, always remember to read the sentence and make a prediction about what changes would correct any errors you find. This prediction will help you eliminate wrong answers and quickly zero in on the correct choice.

Since William the Conqueror in 1066, every British sovereign has been crowned in Westminster Abbey except Edward V and Edward VII, neither of them were crowned.

The first thing that you should notice is the comma after "Edward VII." Even though it is not underlined, it should jump out at you because if you split the sentence at that point, you could put a comma there and have two sentences. Normally, that would mean that the comma is incorrect and a semicolon would work better; since the comma is not underlined, the underlined section needs to be rephrased in such a way that it is not a sentence. The easiest way to do that is to change "of them" to "of whom." In addition, the singular word "neither" needs the singular verb "was." Check the answer choices for one that includes "of whom" and "was."


A) neither of them were

B) neither were

C) neither of whom was

D) with neither being

E) with neither who had been

The answer is C.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 53% of responses were correct.


For more help with grammar, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

The first Swiss chocolate factory was built in 1819. The man who founded it was in his early 20s and had been working as an "immigrant labourer" in Italy for four years because the chocolate he saw at a Swiss fair smelled so good! This short list of Swiss chocolate makers  Swiss chocolate makers can be used for Excellent Examples about entrepreneurship, determination, and dedication. 

4/29 Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E.

Remember to read through the sentence for anything that sounds strange, then focus on the part that must be changed to correct the error. If nothing sounds strange to you, check all the options against the rules of English grammar. After checking each option, if none of them are wrong, select choice E.

An abundant supply of milk from dairy farms nearby make the Bern region of Switzerland a leading producer of condensed milk and milk chocolate. No error



Subject-verb agreement errors can be tricky to spot because the test makers use tricks to hide the errors in their sentences. In this case, they separated the subject from the verb with prepositional phrases. When you want to check subject-verb agreement, eliminating prepositional phrases is a good way to simplify the sentence so you can see what's really important.

An abundant supply [of milk] [from dairy farms nearby] make the Bern region [of Switzerland] a leading producer [of condensed milk and milk chocolate]. 

An abundant supply make the Bern region a leading producer. 

Note: Normally, all prepositional phrases end with nouns or pronouns. I eliminated "nearby" with the second prepositional phrase because it describes the word "farms" and would not make sense in the sentence by itself.

Now that the sentence has been shortened, look at the verb "make." It looks fine, so check it against the subject of the sentence. What makes? The abundant supply makes. You can correct almost all subject-verb agreement errors this way almost effortlessly IF you can correctly identify the subject and verb.

Before committing to C, check the other answer choices.

A: "An abundant supply." "An" is an article, a special adjective that indicates what kind of noun is being discussed. There is a difference between "a book" and "the book," "an elephant" and "the elephant." "An" is used correctly here.

B: "from dairy farms." "From" is a preposition. It introduces the phrase "from dairy farms nearby," which modifies the noun "supply." "From" is used correctly.

D: "a leading producer." This phrase is called an "object complement" because it complements, or completes, the direct object of the sentence. The direct object of a sentence is the noun or pronoun that receives the action of the sentence. In this case, the direct object is "the Bern region." Of course an abundant supply of milk didn't make the Bern region; the supply of milk made the region into something. The object complement clarifies what the region became. (The object complement construction is somewhat rare; it most often turns up in sentences like, "We elected him president.") This phrase is used correctly.

The answer is C.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 62% of responses were correct.


Want more help with grammar? Visit www.myknowsys.com!

Subject-Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

It is easy to think of Shakespeare as a relic of the past, but his works are still being performed today. Groups like The Baron's Men perform Shakespearean plays in replica Globe theaters, even encouraging the audience to interact with the performers as they did in Shakespeare's day. Attending a performance could give your essay an exciting historical yet personalized touch. 

4/23 Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

Remember to read the sentence and make a prediction, then check that prediction and the other answer choices against the requirements of standard written English. 

Aside from Shakespeare, perhaps no writer in English have engaged the public’s imagination more thoroughly than Charles Dickens.  No error
First, does anything sound odd? C should; the verb "have" doesn't seem quite right. First, consider the entire verb phrase: "have engaged." What is the subject? Who or what "have engaged?" The answer, of course, is "no writer." However, "no writer" is obviously singular, so the plural verb "have" does not agree. Check the other answer choices before committing.

A: "Aside from" is correct. The two words function together as a preposition, with "Shakespeare" as its object.

B: "perhaps" is used correctly. It is an adverb modifying the verb phrase "have engaged."

D: "more thoroughly than" is also used correctly. These words are used to compare Dickens to other authors in the English language.

The answer is C. 


On sat.collegeboard.org, 77% of responses were correct. 


Want more help with grammar? Visit www.myknowsys.com!

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart is one of the first and one of the most famous English works written by an African author. Achebe skillfully portrays his native Ibo culture as one full of rich history and traditions, though the main character is eventually destroyed by his stubborn determination to hold onto the culture he knew as a boy. This book could be used in an essay about culture clashes, colonialism, masculinity, or a host of other topics. 

4/17 Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

First, read the sentence to see whether anything sounds wrong. If something sounds "off" or strange, check it against the rules of standard written English. If the answer choice you predicted is breaking the rules, it is the correct answer.

Although the number of books written in African languages are growing, many African writers find a larger audience for works written in Portuguese or English. No error


Does anything sound strange? If not, start with A.

A) "written in" is a participle introducing the participial phrase "written in African languages." The phrase modifies the noun "books." Since it is modifying a noun and placed immediately next to that noun, the participle is used correctly.

B) "are growing" is the main verb phrase of the dependent clause. Check both subject-verb agreement and verb tense. Since you already have the verb, look for the subject. What are growing? "African languages" is closest to the verb, but obviously the languages aren't growing. The next noun back is "books," but books don't grow either. Move closer to the beginning of the sentence. The only noun left is "number," and it makes perfect sense for the number of books in a category to grow. Now that you have the subject, check whether the subject agrees with the verb. "The number... are growing." That does not match because "the number of" is always singular. ("A number of," meaning several, is plural.) B might be the correct answer.

C) "find" is the main verb of the sentence. It is plural, and it matches its subject, "African writers." It is also in present tense, which matches the tense of "are growing." It is used correctly.

D) "for works" is a prepositional phrase that modifies the noun "audience." It is used correctly.

The answer is B.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 42% of responses were correct. 

Verbs

Link of the Day

The search for evidence of the earliest Americans is still ongoing. National Geographic published this article a few years ago, documenting revisions to the theory of the Bering land bridge.  

4/14 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.

Remember to read carefully and make a prediction before you look at the answer choices. This is more efficient than simply comparing the answer choices. Also, avoid looking at choice A. Since it is the same as the original sentence, reading it is a waste of your time.

The North American continent, first colonized by people from Siberia, crossing the now sunken land bridge between Siberia and Alaska about 15,000 years ago.

First, read the sentence to see whether anything sounds wrong. This sentence should sound strange because it is lacking a main verb. "Colonized," "crossing," and "sunken" are all participles and are not used as verbs. Look at the answer choices to find an option that includes a main verb.


A) The North American continent, first colonized by people from Siberia, crossing

B) People from Siberia first colonized the North American continent, who crossed
Choice B includes the main verb "colonized," but misuses the preposition "who." "Who" in this version of the sentence refers to "the North American continent," but "who" should only refer to people. Eliminate B.

C) First colonized by people from Siberia was the North American continent, they crossed
This clause (up to the comma) is not only passive voice, it is in reversed order. No one speaks this way except for Yoda. Eliminate C.

D) First colonized by people Siberia, who crossed the North American continent, 
This phrasing does not include a main verb, and it changes the meaning of the sentence. The Siberian nomads did not cross the North American continent, they crossed the land bridge. Eliminate D.

E) The North American continent was first colonized by people from Siberia, who crossed
This version of the sentence is still passive ("the continent was colonized" instead of "people colonized the continent"), but it is in the correct order for standard English. It also includes a main verb, "was colonized," that agrees with the subject. E is the correct answer.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 78% of responses were correct.


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Subject-Verb Agreement

Link of the Day:

The Map as History is a collection of animated maps. Use them to help you remember interesting details about your five historical examples!

3/27 Improving Sentences

Part 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.

When you take the SAT, remember to ignore choice A on questions like this. You will have already read the sentence and made a prediction about how to correct it. When you look at the answer choices, starting with E is a good idea because it keeps you from getting distracted by A. 

Reading maps involve several abilities, including the ability to locate places, to ascertain directions, to measure distances, and to interpret the mapmaker's symbols. 

"Involve" may sound correct here because it is next to the plural noun "maps," but "maps" is not the subject of the sentence. To find the subject of any sentence, first identify the verb by asking "What happens in this sentence?" Then put the word "what" before the verb. "What involves?" Obviously, "reading involves." "Reading" is a gerund--a verb acting like a noun--in this sentence, and in fact the gerund phrase "reading maps" is the subject. Another benefit to the "What verbs?" trick is that it puts the subject and the verb right next to each other, often fixing subject-verb agreement problems almost unconsciously. Now that you have a prediction--"involves"--look at the answer choices.

A) involve

B) involves

C) will involve

D) has involved

E) have involved

D and E are both past tense, and C is future tense. The sentence is in present tense, so you can eliminate all three of those options. B is the answer. 


At sat.collegeboard.org, 73% of responses were correct. 


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Grammar

Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

Each Identifying Sentence Errors question has, at most, one error. If it looks like there are two errors, always check the apparent mistakes against the grammar rules you know. Often, phrases that are grammatically correct sound strange because so few people actually know and follow the rules of English grammar.

The tiger usually hunts by night and feeds on a variety of animals, but it prefers fairly large prey such as deer and wild pigs. No error

Check each answer choice.


A) "Usually" is a modifier, so check whether it agrees with what it modifies. Here, it is an adverb modifying the verb "hunts," and since they are located right next to each other this adverb follows all the rules of grammar.

B) The verb "feeds" agrees with its subject, "tiger." Every preposition must have an object, and the preposition "on" has the object "variety." Prepositional phrases are always modifiers, so in addition to having an object each phrase must follow the rules of modifiers. The phrase "on a variety" modifies the verb "feeds," so it does not break any rules.

C) "But" is a coordinating conjunction, one of the FANBOYS you might remember from English class. FANBOYS is an acronym intended to help you remember the most common coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or yet, so. Coordinating conjunctions connect items of equal weight; what does "but" connect in this sentence? It connects two independent clauses. The first, in a simplified form, is "The tiger hunts and eats." The second is "It prefers large prey." Since these two clauses are equally important, the conjunction "but" is correct here. Now look at "it." "It" is a pronoun, so make sure it agrees with its antecedent. Here, "it" replaces "tiger," which is gender-neutral and singular, so "it" is correct.

D) "Such as" serves the same function as "like," in this case, a preposition with a compound object. "Compound" simply means there is more than one of something. In this case, the preposition has two objects, "deer" and "wild pigs."

Since none of the answer choices in the sentence contain an error, the answer is E.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 60% of responses were correct.


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