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Verb Form

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 whole sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then quickly check each underlined portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules, identifying and marking any error.

In order to prepare for the speech he was given to all of the parents and teachers at the school, George practiced speaking in front of a group of his friendsNo error

(A)  When you use the word “prepare,” you prepare to do something (verb) or you prepare for something (noun).  The words following the preposition “for” are “the speech,” a noun, so this portion of the sentence is idiomatically correct.  There is no error here.

(B)  If you did not read the whole sentence, this portion of the sentence may look fine.  However, you don’t usually need to prepare for something that is given to you.  If you are preparing something, you will probably be the one giving something.  Instead of “was given,” you need the words “was to give” or “will give.”  Mark this verb form error and quickly check the remaining choices.

(C)  The words “in front of” constitute an idiomatically correct phrase to explain the location of something or, in this case, someone.  There is no error here.

(D)  When you see a pronoun, check to make sure it has one antecedent and that it matches the antecedent.  The antecedent for “his” is “George,” and the possessive pronoun is correct because the people are his friends rather than our friends.  The word “friends” must be plural because you cannot have a group without more than one friend.  There is no error here.

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

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 82% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Structure

Writing: 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 entire sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.

Mexican painter Frida Kahlo drew inspiration from her Mexican heritage, where she incorporated native and religious symbols into her work.

The underlined portion contains the word “where.”  “Where” refers to a place; however, there are no places in the sentence.  “Mexican heritage” is not a place!  Mexico would be a place.  Eliminate the “where” and you have created a comma splice.  A comma splice is two complete sentences with separate subjects and verbs that are incorrectly joined with a comma.  The easiest way to fix this new problem is to eliminate the underlined subject “she” and change the verb “incorporated” to make this sentence flow better.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) where she incorporated
(B) in which she incorporated
(C) incorporated
(D) incorporating
(E) therefore, she incorporated

(A) This answer choice always matches the original.  Eliminate it without reading it.

(B) This answer changes the meaning of the sentence and makes it unclear.  It sounds as if Frida is incorporating symbols into her heritage and somehow creating her own heritage.  Eliminate it. 

(C) You cannot just put the word “incorporated” into this blank.  You would need “and incorporated” to avoid sentence structure problems.  Eliminate it.

(D) Changing “incorporated” to “incorporating,” creates a dependant clause that cannot stand alone.  You no longer have the incorrect relative pronoun “where” and you have fixed the sentence structure problem that resulted from its removal.  This is a clear and concise sentence.  Keep it.

(E) This answer choice is wordy.  It is also incorrectly punctuated.  There should be a semicolon before the transitional word “therefore.”  An entire sentence still comes after the comma, and you must avoid a comma splice.  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 57% of the responses were correct.

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

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 quickly check each of the underlined portions against the Big 8 Grammar Rules. 

The Sundance Film Festival, which is located in Park City, Utah, and was founded by actor and director Robert Redford, have introduced audiences to some of the most acclaimed and popular independent films of the last thirty years. No error.

(A)  This underlined portion tests whether you know the difference between “which” and “that.”  The word “which” must come after a comma because the following information is not essential to the sentence.  The word “that” needs no comma because the following information is vital to the sentence.  This sentence requires the word “which.”  Also, notice that the festival is singular so the verb “is” is correct.  There is no error here.

(B)   Whenever you see a tense change, make sure that it is necessary.  This sentence changes from “is located” to “was founded.”  It does not make sense to say “is founded” because a festival can only be founded once; it is not an ongoing process but an event that happened in the past.  The change is correct.  There is no error here.

(C)  This underlined portion says “have introduced.”  Whenever you have a verb separated from its subject, be especially careful to make sure that the subject and verb match.  You already noted that the film festival is singular, so would it make sense to write, “the festival have introduced?”  No.  You need the word “has.”  Mark this error and quickly look at your other choices.

(D)  The word “most” modifies the word “acclaimed” and is placed as close as possible to the word it modifies.  Notice that the word “most” is appropriate rather than the word “more” because this sentence is comparing all of the films of the last thirty years.  One thing is “more acclaimed” than another if you are comparing only two things.  There is no error here.

(E)  This cannot be the answer because you already found an error.

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 67% of the responses were correct.

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

Verb Tense

Link of the Day

You can learn a lot about the priorities of others by looking at where they spend their money.  The same is true of nations.  Look at this article about UK aid to third world nations.  Is the aid a good thing?  Think about this question as someone who must share the planet with others, then think about this question from the perspective of someone on a tight budget.  This current event touches some tough issues regarding morality and responsibility.  Think about the broad themes involved and note the details that would help you use this as an excellent example on an SAT essay.

Writing: 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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Remember that your goal is to create a clear and precise sentence.

The most famous case of scientific suppression remains that of Galileo, who in 1633 was forced by the Roman Catholic Church to disavow his finding that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

When you read this sentence the first time, do you see any errors?  There are many things that you can change about this sentence, but there are no errors.  The meaning of the sentence  is clear.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) remains that of Galileo, who in 1633 was forced by the Roman Catholic Church to disavow
(B) remained that of Galileo, who in 1633 was forced by the Roman Catholic Church to disavow
(C) remaining that of Galileo, forced by the Roman Catholic Church in 1633 to disavow
(D) will remain that of Galileo, who is forced by the Roman Catholic Church in 1633 to disavow
(E) has remained that of Galileo, who in 1633 is forced by the Roman Catholic Church to disavow

(A)  You did not find any errors in the original sentence, so keep this as an option.

(B)  Changing the tense of the present tense verb “remains” changes the meaning of the sentence.  Right now this is the most famous case of its kind, so using the past tense “remained” is not appropriate.  Eliminate this answer.

(C)  The Knowsys rule is to avoid unnecessary “–ing” verb endings.  You already know that the verb “remains” works in this sentence, so do not be tempted to add “–ing.”  Additionally, this answer choice creates problems with the sentence structure.  Eliminate it.

(D)   How do you know that something will always remain the most famous case of its kind?  You don’t know.  The future tense is not appropriate in this sentence, so you can eliminate this choice.

(E)  This time look at the part of the sentence that says “who in 1633 is forced.”  The forcing clearly happened in the past, so this portion of the sentence should read “was forced.”  Note: this logic can also eliminate choice (D).

The correct answer is (A).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 57% of the responses were correct.

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

Verb Tense

Link of the Day

What is the largest structure made by living beings?  The answer is the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.  Billions of tiny organisms have created a structure that can be seen from space.  Unfortunately, a study published yesterday shows that half of the Great Barrier Reef has disappeared since 1985.  Read this article and think about how you can relate this current event to common themes found in SAT writing prompts.

10/2 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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then quickly check the underlined portions against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Identify and mark any error that you find, and quickly check the remaining choices.

Although Mrs. Griffin has not previously been very enthusiastic about preparing her students for the annual piano competition, she put in extra time this year to ensure that her star pupil would win first prize. No error.

As you read this sentence carefully, did you notice something that a lot of the blanks have in common?  There are a lot of underlined verbs!  If you notice something like that, make sure you have identified the tense of the main verb before you wade through a number of verbs that might be incorrect.  In this sentence, notice that “she put” is not underlined.  This subject and verb must be correct, and the word “put” indicates that the sentence is in the past tense.

(A)  Think about the fact that your main verb is past tense, and then look to see whether this phrase makes sense in context.  “Has not… been” is present perfect, but immediately after the underlined portion, you are reminded that the sentence is in past tense by the word “previously.”  Rather than present perfect, you need the past perfect phrase “had not… been.”

(B)  The underlined “for” tests your knowledge of prepositional idioms.  After “preparing” it is idiomatically correct to use the preposition “for.”

(C) The underlined portion, “to ensure,” is an infinitive.  Infinitives do not need to match the tense of the main verb.  It is okay to write “She wanted to do that,” “She wants to do that,” or “She will want to do that.”  The verb after “to” remains the same in all three of these tenses.  The underlined portion is correct.

(D) The underlined phrase “would win” is correct.  It lets you know that the competition, as well as the hard work that Mrs. Griffin did, occurred in the past.

(E) This answer cannot be correct because you have already found an error.

The correct answer is (A).


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

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

Sentence Structure

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 sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Evaluate the underlined portion using The Big 8 Grammar Rules.

Althea Gibson, the first African American tennis player to be recognized as a world champion, beginning to play amateur tennis in the 1940s.

This sentence may look really long, but you only have to worry about a part of it.  Look at the section enclosed by commas (the…champion).  This whole phrase is known as an appositive phrase and it simply gives information about the subject of the sentence.  Since the part of the sentence that is underlined is outside the two commas, you can ignore everything inside the commas.  Now the sentence is much shorter:

Althea Gibson beginning to play amateur tennis in the 1940s.

This sentence is a fragment; it sounds as if something else should follow it.  In order to make the sentence a complete sentence, you must change the verb tense.  Think of a way that you could improve the underlined portion without looking at the answer choices.  The correct words might just come to mind. Then look down at your answer choices.

(A) beginning to play
(B) began playing
(C) and she began playing
(D) she began to play
(E) she had begun playing

Do not read (A) because you already know it is wrong.  Only one answer choice begins with the word “began.”  Did you predict the word "began?"  Do not get caught up in worrying about whether it is more correct to write “playing” or “to play” because you can see that all of the options except one add the unnecessary pronoun “she.”  The correct answer must be both concise and clear.

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 87% of the responses were correct.

For more help with the writing section of the SAT, 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!

Verb Tense

Link of the Day

Barbara Jordan was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate since Reconstruction, and one of the first women ever. She entered the political arena in the 1960's and was known for her hard work and eloquence at both the state and national levels. 

5/14 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.

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.

After serving two terms in the Texas Senate, Barbara Jordan's election to the United States House of Representatives, where she served from 1973 to 1979.

The first question that occurs to me as I read this sentence is, "Wait, who got elected?" After an introductory phrase like this one, the first independent noun is always the subject. As the problem is currently written, it looks like Jordan's election served two terms in the Texas Senate! That, of course, makes no sense. Since you know that Barbara Jordan was the one who served in the Senate, you know that the correct answer must start with her name.



A) Barbara Jordan's election

B) it was Barbara Jordan who was elected

C) it was Barbara Jordan's election

D) Barbara Jordan had been elected

E) Barbara Jordan was elected

You can immediately eliminate A, B, and C. D and E are identical except for the verb tense. There is nothing in the sentence to indicate that past perfect ("had been elected") is required, so eliminate D. The answer is E.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 76% of responses were correct.


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

Idioms

Link of the Day

This "Brief History of The Simpsons" includes an introductory list of the characters and a few ways the show has interacted with the world outside TV. Information like that found in this article can turn a mediocre example (e.g., "In one episode of The Simpsons...") into an excellent one (e.g. a discussion of Marge Simpson's correspondence with First Lady Barbara Bush in late 1990). 

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. 

Always read the sentence first to get a general feel for how it sounds. If something seems strange or wrong, start with the part of the sentence that caught your attention. Check that segment against what you know of standard English grammar. If nothing stands out to you, check all four underlined sections. When you find one that breaks the rules, mark it.

From its modest beginnings as a series of brief vignettes to its establishment as the longest-running prime-time animated series on television, The Simpsons transformed the way both the audiences and television programmers view the animated sitcom. No error
Does anything sound odd? If not, don't worry, just check each answer choice individually.



A) "as" is used in this sentence as a preposition to introduce a modifying phrase, "as a series of brief vignettes." These two prepositional phrases modify the word "beginnings." "As" is used correctly.

B) "its establishment as" contains three words: a pronoun, a noun, and the versatile word "as," which again functions as a preposition here. This maintains the parallelism required by the idiom "from X to Y," in which the words replacing X and those replacing Y must have matching syntax. The pronoun, "its," is a source of difficulty for many students because of its homophone friend, "it's." The easiest way to tell whether "its" or "it's" is correct is to try to replace the word with "it is." If "it is" makes sense, then the contraction is correct; otherwise, you need "its." In this case, "From its (it is?) modest beginnings to it is establishment" clearly does not make sense. "Its," no apostrophe, is needed in both cases. Rule out choice B.

C) "transformed" is the main verb of this sentence. Since it is past-tense, subject-verb agreement questions are a non issue. But is the past-tense usage correct? Obviously, the cultural effects of The Simpsons have already taken effect, so the "transformation" is in the past. C is used correctly, so eliminate it.

D) "both the" introduces an idiomatic expression, "both X and Y." As with "from X to Y," the words that fill in for X and Y must be parallel. The word "the" is the first word that fills in for X. Look immediately after "and" to find the Y words: "television programmers." The word "the" is missing! Without correct parallelism, this idiom is incorrect. The answer is D.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 47% of responses were correct.


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

Prepositions

Link of the Day

Thomas Edison is best known for inventing the light bulb, but he also invented several other devices that are common (in updated forms) today. He invented an early type of camera for recording motion pictures, and he also developed the phonograph, a device for recording and replaying sound that was the 1880 version of the iPod. 

4/5 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.

Always read the sentence first to see if anything sounds wrong. Make a prediction, and check that prediction against the requirements of standard written English. Check the other answers to be sure you have the right answer, then select the correct answer choice.
Except for the phonograph, the performances of great musicians and the voices of famous people would have been lost to historyNo error



Read the sentence to see if anything sounds strange. A probably seems somewhat "off" because it does not use the preposition "except" in the way we normally use it, to indicate exclusion from a group. Here, "except" is used incorrectly to refer to something that prevented something else from happening. Check the other answers to be sure that A is correct.

B: "of great musicians" is a prepositional phrase modifying the noun "performances." It is placed next to the word it modifies, it begins with a preposition, and it ends with a noun. It is used correctly.

C: "would have been" is part of the main verb phrase of this sentence. The helping verb "have" indicates the past perfect tense, which usually means that the verb phrase refers to something farther back in time than something else in the sentence. Here, it refers to the sounds of the past that were preserved by phonograph recordings. It is used correctly.

D. "to history" is a prepositional phrase modifying the verb "lost." It is used correctly.

The answer is A.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 56% of responses were correct.


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

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. 


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



Verb Tense

Link of the Day: 

The Milleau Viaduct is one of the longest bridges in France. It is also one of the most beautiful. This website is the official home for the Milleau Viaduct and has details about how, when, and why it was constructed.

3/24 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 through the sentence to see if anything "sounds" wrong. That is your prediction for this type of problem. Sometimes, the part that seems wrong is not underlined; in that case, your prediction is the part that you could change to make the sentence sound right. If nothing sounds wrong, your prediction is E. Check all four underlined parts against the rules of English grammar, starting with your prediction, and you will find the correct answer.

Once the suspension bridge replaced the cantilever, the United States becomes the world leader in this new type of long-span bridgebuilding. No error



B should sound wrong because it contains a verb tense problem. The word "once" indicates that the events of this sentence happened in the past, so the present tense verb "becomes" is incorrect. It should be "became." Regardless of how confident you are of your answer, check the other choices to be sure.

A: "Once" is a subordinating conjunction. Normally, "The suspension bridge replaced the cantilever" could be a stand-alone sentence. It is an independent clause. However, attaching the conjunction "once" makes it a subordinate or dependent clause. "Once" is used correctly here and is not a problem.

B: Since B is your prediction, you will have already considered what is right or wrong with it.

C: "In this new type" is the whole prepositional phrase. "In" is the preposition, "this" and "new" are modifiers of the word "type," the object of the preposition. The whole phrase is a modifier of the word "leader," so there is no error here.

D: "Type" is the object of the preposition "in," and "of" introduces a new prepositional phrase. The second phrase ends with "bridgebuilding," a gerund, and modifies the word "type." There is no error here.

The answer is B.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 83% of responses were correct.


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

Comma Splice

3/17 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 through the sentence to see what seems wrong. Check each answer choice against the rules of English grammar, and select the choice that has an error.

It depends on where in the world it is located, an underground electric-railway system may be called a subway, underground railway, tube, or metro. No error 



This sentence should wound wrong because it has a comma splice; that is, there are two complete sentences here joined only by a comma. When there are two complete sentences (independent clauses), they must be joined by a either a semicolon alone or a comma with a conjunction. Based on that, it seems that B is the correct answer. Make sure to check all the answer choices before making a decision.



A. "It depends on"
First, you have a pronoun "it." Every pronoun needs to clearly agree with one antecedent, but this "it" is the first word in the sentence. It has no antecedent. This could be an expletive construction (such as "it is" or "there was") but the verb is "depends" instead of "am," "is," "are," or another linking verb. However, changing the main verb "depends" to the participle "depending" would make this clause dependent instead of independent and improve the sentence. A might be the answer.

B. "located"
"Located" is a verb, part of the verb phrase "is located." Its tense (past) makes sense here because the railroads are in their locations and have been for some time. It is difficult to tell whether the comma is underlined, so take a moment to think of ways to connect these two sentences. Nothing I can think of would produce a better sentence than the one created by changing "depends" to "depending."

C. "may be"
There is a subtle difference between the usage of "may," "might," and "can." "May" is usually used for permission, whereas "might" is used for possibilities. In this sentence, either may or might would be correct.

D. "or"
"Or" is a coordinating conjunction; it connects two or more items of equal importance. Here, it connects the various names of underground railways across the globe.

The answer is A.


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


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

Verb Tense

Improving Sentences

Part of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underline 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 sentence first to find any errors and predict a correction. Then check for differences among the answer choices to further narrow down your selection to only the correct answer.

Though its early history is not fully known, origami, the art of folding objects out of paper without cutting, pasting, or decorating, seems that it had developed from the older art of folding cloth.

In this sentence, the verb sounds strange--why use "had developed" when there is nothing in the sentence more recent than its subject, origami? Look for an answer choice that has "developed" instead of "had developed."


A) seems that it had developed form

B) seems to have developed from

C) seems to have been developed out of

D) had developed, it would seem, out of

E) developing, it seems, out of

First, eliminate A. Next, consider the verbs. The only answer choice that does not have a helping verb attached to "develop" is E, which instead has the participle "developing." Since a participle cannot be the main verb of a sentence, you must eliminate E and revise your prediction.

Look for differences among the three remaining answer choices. B ends with the preposition "from" while C and D both end with "out of." Which version makes more sense: origami developed from the art of folding cloth, or origami developed out of it? From is more correct here. Now read the sentence with this substitution:

Though its early history is not fully known, origami, the art of folding objects out of paper without cutting, pasting, or decorating, seems to have developed from the older art of folding cloth.

The answer is B.

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


For more help with grammar, visit myknowsys.com

Pronouns

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.

It is important to read for what sounds wrong, but the most important thing to remember in Identifying Sentences questions is to check each answer choice against the Big 8. If it breaks the rules of grammar, it's your answer!

The credit for making Franz Kafka internationally famous as a writer belongs to his friend, novelist Max Brod, which despite Kafka’s dying wishes, edited Kafka’s unpublished manuscripts and then had them publishedNo error


Choice A starts the prepositional/gerund phrase "for making Franz Kafka internationally famous as a writer." "Making" in this sentence is a gerund, which means it looks like a verb but acts like a noun, so it and the rest of the phrase act as the object of the preposition "for." It is slightly awkward, but it is grammatically correct.

Choice B is the phrase "as a writer," which modifies the adjective "famous." It follows the rules for modifiers.

Choice C is the relative pronoun "which." Every pronoun must have an antecedent, and the antecedent for "which" is "Max Brod." If that seems strange, it's because "which" should not be used for people. Replace "which" with "who" and see how the sentence reads:

The credit for making Franz Kafka internationally famous as a writer belongs to his friend, novelist Max Brod, who despite Kafka's dying wishes edited Kafka's unpublished manuscripts and then had them published.

It's still a long, complicated sentence that I couldn't diagram if I tried, but it is grammatically correct.

Choice D is the verb phrase "had them published." The past tense is correct here because Brod obviously had Kafka's writings published many years ago.

The answer is C.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 66% of responses to this question were correct.


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Verbs

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 check all the answer choices against the grammar rules you know, and don't just select an option that sounds strange to you--sometimes, things sound strange that are actually grammatically correct because they are rarely used.

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Check first to see if anything sounds strange; even if it's actually correct, this process gives you a starting point to check the answer choices. C sounds odd to me, but at a closer look it is grammatically correct. "built by" is passive voice, so it is slightly awkward in terms of style, but it is acceptable.

Next, look at A. "Earliest" is an adjective, so it must follow the rules for modifiers. It is located right next to the noun "telescopes" it modifies, and it agrees in gender and number, so it is grammatically correct.

B is a verb, so check for subject-verb agreement and correct tense. "Were" is simple past tense, which makes sense when discussing the invention of telescopes; it is also plural, so it agrees with the plural subject "telescopes."

D underlines a word that ends in "-ing."  Your Knowsys handbook tells you to examine all such words to make sure that the "-ing" ending is necessary.  The purpose of the portion of the sentence that follows the comma is to explain the identity of Galileo.  You would not point to a picture of Galileo and say, "He was the first person having used telescopes."  Instead, you would say, "He was the first person who used telescopes."  Mark this error.  

The correct answer is (D). 

On sat.collegeboard.org, 67% of responses were correct.

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Idioms

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.

Always remember to make a prediction before selecting an answer choice. Predicting keeps the answer choices from distracting or confusing you, and it allows you to solve problems faster. The first step here is to read the sentence to see if anything "pops."

Encouraged from her teacher, Vanessa decided to enter the short story contest with a story about her experience growing up in CanadaNo error



Hopefully, A should sound strange to you. "Encouraged from" is not an expression common in spoken or written English because it is an incorrect usage. The correct idiom is "encouraged by." You could also receive encouragement from someone, such as a teacher, but since that structure is not used in this sentence A is likely to be the correct answer. Be sure to check the other choices before making a final decision.

B includes an infinitive, "to enter," which is used correctly after a conjugated verb, "decided." In languages such as Spanish, the infinitive is actually a different form of the verb, and that form must be used after a conjugated verb. In English, the same thing is true, but the infinitive is formed by adding "to" to a verb.

C is just the preposition "with." Every proposition needs a noun (or pronoun) to be its object. Here the object is "story," so the preposition is correct. Prepositional phrases function as modifiers, so make sure that the modifier is in the correct place. "With a story" actually modifies the verb "enter," but it must go after "the short story contest" to avoid confusion and to be consistent with current usage. C is correct as it is.

D is a prepositional phrase. "In" is the preposition, "Canada" is the object, and the whole thing modifies the verb "growing up." There are no problems with D.

The answer is A.


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



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Verbs

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, select choice E. 

Identifying Sentence Errors problems are simple in concept. All you have to do is find the part that is wrong and mark it--the challenge lies in identifying which part of the sentence contains an error. 

Dance often involving movement being taken to an extreme, with, for example, the arms being flung or stretched out, the head lifted back, and the body arched or twisted. No error



First, read the sentence to see if anything sounds wrong. The word "being" should stand out to you; in general, you should avoid "being" because it implies an ongoing action, which usually does not make sense in written passages. However, its usage is not always wrong, and it is not the problem in this sentence. Check each answer choice against the rules of English grammar.

A.  "Often involving" looks like a verb, so check for subject-verb agreement and correct verb tense. What is the subject of the sentence? Clearly, it is "dance." What does "dance" do? "Dance involving" doesn't make sense, so there is a problem with subject-verb agreement. "Involving" is a participle (a verb acting as an adjective), so the sentence does not have a verb. A looks like the correct answer, but be sure to double-check the other options.

B. "Being taken" is another participle that describes what kind of movement the dancer makes. Although you should usually avoid "being," it is not incorrect here.

C. "For example" is a prepositional phrase. It has a preposition, "for," and an object, "example," and it follows all the rules for prepositional phrases. 

D. "Or stretched out" connects with "the arms being flung" and with "the head lifted back, and the body arched or twisted." Choice D tests your knowledge of parallel structure. The parallel structure here is 1) "The arms being flung or stretched," 2) "the head lifted back," 3) "and the body arched or twisted." Each one has two main parts: a noun (arms, head, body) and a participle (flung, lifted, arched). Since they all follow the parallel format, this part of the sentence is correct as is. 

The answer is A. 


On sat.collegeboard.org, 58% of responses were correct. 



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Verbs

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. 
Identifying Sentence Errors questions are fairly self-explanatory. Four sections of the sentence are each marked with a letter, and you need to read the sentence and identify the error. If there is no error, then "No Error" is the correct answer. Write the letter of your choice in the margin and you're done! (Gridding a whole page at the same time is more efficient than gridding one answer at a time, so as you finish each question you should write the answer in the margin.)
The new law requires that all bicycle riders have been wearing helmets while on their bicycles, even when they are not moving. No error.
The Knowsys Method is all about predictions, so I have temporarily removed the answer choices from the sentence. Read it to yourself, silently or aloud. Does anything sound strange or wrong? Does anything seem illogical? 

In fact, the law according to the current sentence mandates something not just illogical, but impossible.

The new law requires that all bicycle riders have been wearing helmets...

"Have been wearing" is past tense (past perfect, to be precise), so the law apparently requires that bikers, in the past, were wearing helmets. Since it is impossible to comply with a law that has not been written, and since it is illegal to prosecute someone for a "crime" committed before the act was illegal, this sentence is nonsense.  Now, look at the answer choices:

The new law requires that all bicycle riders have been wearing helmets while on their bicycleseven when they are not moving. No error

Sure enough, the verb phrase "have been wearing" is underlined. A is the answer. However, it is important to check the grammar of the other answer choices to ensure that you selected the best answer.

B) "While" is a subordinating conjunction that tells when the bicycle riders must wear their helmets.
C) "Their bicycles" is correct because the possessive pronoun "their" matches both its antecedent "bicycle riders" and the noun "bicycles" it modifies. Remember that possessive pronouns, like possessive nouns ("Jimmy's") act like adjectives and must modify nouns. An antecedent is the noun that a pronoun replaces.
D) "Even when" is correct. "When" is a subordinating conjunction like "while," and "even" is an intensifier that emphasizes the subordinate clause "when they are not moving."


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