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The Knowsys Big 8 Grammar Rules

When working through the grammar questions in the Knowsys blog, you'll see lots of references to "The Knowsys Big 8 Grammar Rules."  Here's the list.  We recommend you memorize the list and the questions and then use them to analyze the grammatical elements tested.

The Knowsys Big 8 Grammar Rules

 

1.     Idioms   
Is the expression or word choice correct?

2.     Sentence Structure 

Is it a complete sentence (good)?
Is it a run-on (bad)
Is there a comma splice (bad)?

3.     Subject-Verb Agreement 
Where’s the subject?  Where’s the verb?  Do they agree?

4.     Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement 
Is there one and only one clear antecedent? 
Does the pronoun match the antecedent in gender and number?  

5.     Modifiers
Is the modifier clear and effective? 
Is the modifier close to what it modifies?

6.     Parallelism 
Are the items in a series in parallel format?

7.     Comparison 
What is being compared grammatically? 
Is the comparison clear and logical? 

8.     Style 
Is the sentence clear and concise? 
Is the voice active? 
Is there no redundancy?  

SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

Read the sentence and select the portion of the sentence that contains an error.  If there is no error, select E.

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Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8. 

A. "Neither" must always be paired with "nor."  This choice is not an error, so eliminate it.  

B. Anytime you see a verb underlined, check to make sure that it agrees with its subject.  Nouns used with either/or or neither/not are called "compound pairs."  In compound pairs, the subject always agrees with the second subject in the pair.  The verb "know" agrees with "I," so this is not an error.  Eliminate this choice.

C. When you see "which" underlined, you should ask yourself whether it should be "that" instead.  The word "which" must always be preceded by a comma, and since the comma in this sentence cannot be eliminated, "which" must be correct. Eliminate this choice.

D. This choice tests parallelism.  Both verbs ("making" and "giving") must match with each other.  They do match, so this choice is not an error.  Eliminate this choice. 

E.  There is no error in the sentence, so E is correct. 

The correct answer is E.

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SAT Grammar: Improving Sentences

Improving Sentences

No sooner had I lain my head down on my pillow and closed my eyes but my phone rang shrilly, shocking me out of my restful state.

A.  lain my head down on my pillow and closed my eyes but my phone rang shrilly, shocking
B.  lain my head down on my pillow and closed my eyes than my phone rang shrilly then shocked
C.  laid my head down on my pillow and closed my eyes but my phone rang shrilly, shocking
D.  laid my head down on my pillow and closed my eyes than my phone rang shrilly and was shocking
E.  laid my head down on my pillow and closed my eyes than my phone rang shrilly, shocking

Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8. 

This question tests your understanding of idioms, words or expressions that are always said the same way.  Idioms sometimes sound peculiar, but they are grammatically correct.  Two idioms appear in this question.  

1. "no sooner had x than y"

as in: "No sooner had I walked out the door " or "No sooner had John sat down for dinner than the doorbell rang." 

2. lay versus lie

Lay takes an object and means "to place." The past tenses of lay are: laid/had laid.

Lie does not take an object and means "to rest." The past tenses of lie are: lay/had lain.

So, the correct version of this sentence should say "no sooner had I LAID my head down . . . THAN my phone rang . . . " You might be wondering why the correct word is "laid" (past perfect tense of lay) when the person in the sentence is trying to rest.  "My head" is an object, so the word must be "laid" (past perfect tense of lay), not "lain" (past perfect tense of lie).   

Choices A and B do not work because they begin with "lain."  Eliminate these choices.

Choice C says "no sooner had I laid my head down . . . BUT my phone rang."  Eliminate this choice.

Choice D gets both idioms correct but changes "shocking" to "and was shocking," which is inconsistent with the verb tense established in the sentence.  Eliminate this choice.

Choice E gets both idioms correct and does not make any unnecessary changes. 

The correct answer is E.

This is a medium level problem.

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SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

Read the sentence and select the portion of the sentence that contains an error.  If there is no error, select E.

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Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8. 

A. The phrase "straining to reach" is idiomatically correct.  If this phrase looks strange to you, add it to your idioms list and read it over until it sounds right to you.  Eliminate this choice.

B. Whenever you see a reflexive pronoun (myself, yourself, herself, himself, themselves, ourselves) underlined, check to see whether that reflexive pronoun refers back to an antecedent that is already stated in the sentence.  In this case, "herself" clearly refers back to "the woman," so this usage is correct.  Eliminate this choice.

C. This choice may look right at first glance, but "was" should be "were."  If you are writing about something that you wish were true or that could be true but is not true, you should use "were."  For instance, you would say, "If I were a bird, I would fly away."  You are not a bird, have never been, and will never be, so the correct word is "were."  This choice is an error, but you should check choice D just to be sure. 

D. "Taller" is the comparative form of the adjective "tall."  The comparative form is used when you are comparing two things ("Of the two dogs, this one is cuter").  The superlative form is used when you are comparing three things ("Out of all these dogs, this one is the cutest").  The sentence is comparing two things: the way the woman is and the way she wishes she could be.  This choice is not an error. 

E.  We found an error in choice C, so E cannot be correct.

The correct answer is C.

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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.

Elaine's decision to attend State College was influenced by the college's reasonable tuition rates and because of its convenient location

A.  because of its convenient location
B.  because it is conveniently located
C.  it is conveniently located
D.  by its convenient location
E.  due to its convenient location

Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8. 

This sentence completion tests your understanding of parallelism.  Whenever two or more elements are listed in a sentence, they should be in the same format (parallel).

For instance, these two constructions are parallel:

        Alisha likes to ski, to rock climb, and to swim.

        Alisha likes to ski, rock climb, and swim. 

These two constructions are incorrect because the elements in the list are not parallel:

        Alisha likes to ski, rock climb, and to swim.

        Alisha likes skiing, to rock climb, and swimming. 

So, what is wrong with the parallel construction in the sentence above?  "Elaine's decision . . . was influenced BY the college's reasonable tuition rates and BECAUSE OF its convenient location."  The phrase "because of" must be eliminated or replaced to make the construction parallel.  You could rewrite the sentence as either:

1.  "Elaine's decision . . . was influenced BY the college's reasonable tuition rates and BY its convenient location."  (both elements begin with "by")

OR

2.  "Elaine's decision . . . was influenced by THE COLLEGE'S reasonable tuition rates and ITS convenient location." (both elements begin with a possessive noun/pronoun)

If you scan the answer choices, you will see that the only choice that works is D. 

The correct answer is D.

This is a medium level problem.

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SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

Read the sentence and select the portion of the sentence that contains an error.  If there is no error, select E.

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Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8. 

A. Chances are, the phrase "almost all of the board members" does not strike you as incorrect.  "Almost" is an adverb, and it modifies "all," which in this case is functioning as an adjective.  This is not the error, so eliminate this choice.

B. Whenever you see a verb underlined, check to make sure that it agrees with its subject and with the tense of the sentence.  The verb "agreed" agrees with the subject "board members," and it is in past tense like the rest of the sentence.  This is not an error, so eliminate this choice.

C. Here's another verb, so check to make sure that it agrees with its subject and with the tense of the sentence. The verb "was" agrees with the noun "John Smith," and it is in past tense like the rest of the sentence.  This is not an error, so you can eliminate this choice.

D.  The clause "John Smith was the more qualified" probably sounds strange to you, but it is grammatically correct!  When you are comparing two items, people, etc., the correct word is "more."  When you are comparing three items, people, etc., the correct word is "most."  If you rearrange the sentence, the use of "more" might sound a little more natural.  "Almost all of the board members agreed that John Smith was the more qualified of the two job candidates they had interviewed."  This is not an error, so eliminate this choice.

E.  We did not find an error, so the answer must be E, no error.

The correct answer is E.

This is a hard level problem

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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.

Of all the plays in which I have ever performed, my experience in Shakespeare's King Lear was the most challenging because the lines are so complex.

A.  my experience in Shakespeare's King Lear was the most challenging because the lines are so complex.
B.  my experience in Shakespeare's King Lear challenged me the most because of the complexity of the lines.
C.  the challenge presented by the complex lines of Shakespeare's King Lear was the worst for me.
D.  Shakespeare's King Lear, because of the complexity of the lines, challenged me mostly.
E.  Shakespeare's King Lear was the most challenging for me because the lines are so complex.

Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8. 

What do you notice about the original sentence?  It sounds a little like "my experience" is a play.  The modifier at the beginning of the sentence describes plays, so the name of a play should directly follow that modifier.  That eliminates answer choices A, B, and C right off the bat. 

D.  Choice D begins with the name of a play, so it fixes the modifier error, but it introduces new problems.  Placing the phrase "because of the complexity of the lines" in commas interrupts the sentence unnecessarily and reads awkwardly.  The use of "mostly" is also incorrect because it changes the meaning of the sentence.  Eliminate choice D.

E.  Choice E fixes the modifier error, it does not change the meaning of the sentence, and it follows a logical sentence structure.  Choice E is correct. 

The correct answer is E.

This is a medium level problem

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SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

Read the sentence and select the portion of the sentence that contains an error.  If there is no error, select E.

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Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion(s) against the Big 8 grammar concepts.

A.  When you see a verb underlined, check to see whether it agrees with its subject and whether it is in the correct tense.  The verb "began" agrees with "competition," and it matches up with the past tense in the sentence.  This is not the error.

B.  There are many pronoun rules that are tested on the SAT, but only one applies to "I."  When you see "I" underlined in an SAT grammar question, check to see whether that pronoun should be in the objective case or subjective case.  If the pronoun follows a preposition (about, between, by, down, etc.), that pronoun should be objective (me, you, us, him/her, them).  If the pronoun follows a "being" verb like am, is, are was, etc., that pronoun should be subjective (I, you, we, he/she, they).  In this case, the pronoun follows the preposition "between," so it should be in objective case ("between my brother and me").  We have found an error, but let's review the rest of the choices to be sure.

C.  Check to make sure that this verb agrees with its subject and the tense of the sentence.  The verb "suggested" agrees with the noun "mother," and it matches up with the past tense of the sentence.  This is not an error.

D.  When you see a pronoun like who, whom, whoever, or whomever underlined, check to see whether the pronoun should be in objective case (whom, whomever) or subjective case (who, whoever).  Use objective case after a preposition, and use subjective case before a verb.  A good rule of thumb is to use "who" when you can substitute "he" and "whom" when you can substitute "him."  In this choice, we need to take that rule one step further because the pronoun applies to more than one person.  Split up the statement into two parts, like so:  "Give twenty dollars to him.  He collected the most seashells."  After you have done that, follow this rule: him + he = whoever; him + him = whomever.  In this case, whoever is correct.  This is not an error.

E.  We already found an error, so E is not correct.

The correct answer is B.

This is a medium level problem.

For more information about who/whom, click here.

For more information about whoever/whomever, click here.

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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.

Although genetic factors can predispose a person to develop heart disease, doctors say that in most cases proper diet and regular exercise reduces their risk.

A. exercise reduces their
B. exercise has been reducing their
C. exercise, reducing one’s
D. exercise reduce one’s
E. exercise, it does reduce the


Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8 grammar concepts.  

The underlined part of this sentence contains a noun and a verb, so your first thought should be, do the subject and verb agree?  The tricky part of this question is that the verb “reduces” seems to agree with the noun “exercise” at first.  If you look again, however, you will notice that the subject is compound (“proper diet and regular exercise”), so the verb should be plural, and the sentence should read, “…proper diet and regular exercise reduce…”  

The other issue in the underlined portion is the pronoun “their.”  Who are “they”?  Earlier in the sentence, the writer referenced “a person,” so this pronoun should be singular, either “one’s” or “your.”

Look for an answer choice that resolves the subject verb issue and includes a singular pronoun.

A. Choice A is incorrect, so you can eliminate it without reading it.

B.  Choice B still includes the pronoun “they.”  Eliminate this choice.

C.  Choice C includes the pronoun “one,” which is good, but this choice does not resolve the subject verb error properly.  The comma cuts the verb off from the nouns and changes the verb to a participle (a verb that acts as an adjective) for no reason.  Eliminate this choice.

D.  Choice D resolves the subject verb issue and uses the pronoun “one.”  Keep this choice and check the last remaining option.

E.  This choice probably strikes you as incorrect immediately.  What is “it”?  Why did the verb tense change?  What is “the risk”?  Eliminate this incorrect choice.

The correct answer is D.

This is a hard level problem.

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SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

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Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion(s) against the Big 8 grammar concepts.    

A.  At first glance, this portion of the sentence looks fine.  Once you read past the comma, however, a problem becomes apparent.  The verb of the sentence must be “was established” because this part of the sentence is not underlined and therefore cannot be changed.   As the sentence stands, it is a run-on because the two verbs, “is” and “was established,” are not separated with a coordinating conjunction like “and” or “but.”  Given the placement of the underlined portions, the only way to fix this problem is to delete “is” and add a comma in its place.  Then the sentence will read “Head Start, a program that offers services to pre-school-aged children in low-income families in the United States, was established …”  Re-worked in that way, the sentence would not be a run-on anymore.  Even though we found an error in choice A, we should still review the rest of the choices just in case.  

B.  The phrase “offer to” is idiomatically correct and is part of the Knowsys idioms lists.  Eliminate this choice.

C.  To say that the children in the sentence are “from low-income families” is idiomatically correct (as opposed to “of low-income families” or “out of low-income families” or something of the like, which would be incorrect).  Eliminate this choice.  

D.  The phrase “established by” is idiomatically correct.  Programs are “established by” people or organizations; programs are not “established of” or “established about” people or organizations.  Eliminate this choice.  

E.  We found an error in choice A, so E cannot be correct.

The correct answer is A.

This is a hard level problem.

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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.

I laid out the presents that I had purchased so far and mentally tallied the amount of gifts I still needed to buy.

A. I laid out the presents that I had purchased so far and mentally tallied the amount
B. I lay out the presents that I had purchased so far, while mentally tallying the number
C. Laying out the presents that I had purchased so far, I mentally tallied the amount
D. Laying out the presents that I had purchased so far and mentally tallying the number
E.  I laid out the presents that I had purchased so far and mentally tallied the number

Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8 grammar concepts.

The concept tested here is idioms.  Two frequently tested idioms appear in this question, “lay/lie,” and “amount/number.”  Figure out which combination you are looking for before you look down at the choices.  

Lay/lie
“Lay” means “to place” and is used with objects.  “Lie” means “to rest” and is used for people.  The person in the sentence is laying out presents, so the writer must choose “lay.”  Unfortunately, it is a little more complicated than that because the sentence is in the past tense.  The past tense of “lay” is “laid,” and the past tense of “lie” is “lay.”  Thus, you are looking for “laid,” NOT “lay.”  Confused?  For more clarification on lay/lie click here.  

Amount/number
“Amount” is used for non-countable terms (money, happiness, food, etc.), and “number” is used for countable items (dollars, hours, meals, etc.).  Presents can be counted, so the writer should use “number.”

Now that you know you what words you are looking for, get rid of choices that use “lay” (past tense of lie) or “amount.”  That eliminates choices A, B, and C.  Look at your remaining choices.  

D.  Choice D is a sentence fragment.  Who is completing these actions?  Eliminate choice D.  

E.  Choice E uses the correct idioms (“I laid out the presents,” “[I] mentally tallied the number of gifts”).  Choice E is the correct answer.  


The correct answer is choice E.

This is a hard-level problem.

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SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

Read the sentence and select the portion of the sentence that contains an error.  If there is no error, select E.

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Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portions against the Big 8 grammar concepts.

A.  Whenever you see a preposition underlined, determine whether its usage is idiomatic.  The phrase “anywhere from x to y,” as in “the cost may be anywhere from $5 to $20” or “children grow anywhere from a couple of centimeters to a few inches a year,” is a common idiomatic expression.  Choice A is not the error in the sentence.

B.  This choice constitutes the second part of the idiomatic expression “anywhere from x to y.”  Choice B is not the error in the sentence.  

C.  Once you hit this part of the sentence, you will probably sense that something sounds wrong.  What did Rockwell spend weeks or months doing?  Painting.  There should be no “and” before “painting” because Rockwell spent time painting, he did not spend time and paint.  This is most likely the error in the sentence, but check the remaining choice to be sure.

D.  If you see an adverb underlined on an SAT grammar question, be sure that it clearly modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.  The adverb “meticulously” modifies “painting” because it tells you how Rockwell painted.  Choice D does not contain an error.  

E.  Since you found an error, E cannot be the answer.

The correct answer is C.

This is a medium level problem.

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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 drought had a much more profound economic impact on farmers than the people who complained about the skyrocketing prices of fresh produce in grocery stores.

A.  the people who complained
B.  on the people who complained
C.  the people who were complaining
D.  it did on people who are complaining
E.  on complaints from the people

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 rule tested here is comparisons.  One important thing to note about comparisons is that they must be parallel.  So in this sentence, if the drought has an impact “ON farmers,” it must also have an impact “ON the people” who complain about increasing prices.   Thus, you should automatically eliminate all answers that do not say “on the people.”  That leaves only B and D for us to consider.  (Note: E begins with “on,” but we are comparing farmers with people, not complaints.)  

B.  This choice fixes the problem in the original sentence.  The drought has an effect “ON farmers” and “ON the people.”  Keep this choice and check the other.

D.  This choice starts out fine.  The “drought had a stronger impact on farmers than … it did on the people.”  However, the verb tense is now wrong.  “Are complaining” should be “complained” because this action happened in the past.  Eliminate this choice.
 
The correct answer is B.
This is a medium-level problem.

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SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

Read the sentence and select the portion of the sentence that contains an error.  If there is no error, select E.

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Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portions against the Big 8 grammar concepts.

A.  When you see a verb underlined, check to see whether it agrees with its subject.  In this case, the verb “gave” agrees with its subject, “orientation.”  Eliminate this choice.

B.  The phrase “chance + to + verb” is idiomatically correct.  You would say “I had the chance to win a prize,” not “I had the chance winning a prize,” or “I had the chance win a prize.”  Eliminate this choice.  

C.  You might notice once you reach this point in the sentence that a list has begun.  The freshmen have the chance “to tour” campus, and they also have the chance “to learn” about school rules.  Verbs in a list should be parallel, as these two are.  This is not the error, so eliminate this choice.  

D.  The first two items in the list are “to tour” and “to learn,” so the last item should be “to meet,” not “they met.”  This choice is not parallel, so it must be the error in the sentence.

E.  The sentence includes an error, so E cannot be correct.  

The correct answer is D.

This is a medium level problem.

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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.

Burdened by several heavy grocery bags, the stairs were difficult for the woman to climb.

A.  the stairs were difficult for the woman to climb.
B.  the stairs were difficult for the woman who is climbing.
C.  the woman climbed the stairs with difficulty.
D.  the woman difficultly climbed the stairs.
E.  the woman climbed the stairs, which were difficult.

Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8 grammar concepts.

What do you notice about the original sentence?  It sounds a little like the stairs—and not the woman—are carrying the grocery bags.  This confusion is created by a misplaced modifier, a describing phrase that is not placed next to the word it describes.  When a sentence begins with a modifier phrase followed by a comma, the very next independent noun should be the subject of that phrase.  The woman is carrying the grocery bags in this sentence, so “the woman” should follow the comma.  Now let’s go through each choice and see which one works best.  

A.  We already found an error in this choice, so eliminate it.

B.  This choice has the same issue with a misplaced modifier, and it introduces a verb tense change that makes no sense.  Eliminate it.

C.  This choice fixes the modifier issue and makes sense.  If the woman is weighed down by the heavy grocery bags, she is likely to climb up the stairs with difficulty.  Keep this choice and scan the remaining two choices.

D.  Although this choice resolves the original modifier issue, it introduces a new problem.  How does one “difficultly climb” something?  That wording does not make sense, so eliminate this choice.

E.  This choice looks okay until the end.  Stairs are difficult to climb or to descend, but they are not difficult in and of themselves.  Eliminate this choice.  

The correct answer is C.

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SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

Read the sentence and select the portion of the sentence that contains an error if there is an error.  If there is no error, select E.

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Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion(s) against the Big 8 grammar concepts.

This problem is difficult because the original sentence is complex, but if you focus on the underlined portions, it is not that difficult to spot the error.  

A.  Chances are, nothing strikes you as incorrect about this choice.  Places are often referred to as “the town of (name)” or “the city of (name).”  This underlined portion sounds fine because it is idiomatically correct; that is, this expression is always said in this way.  Eliminate this choice.

B.  “Once known as” is an idiomatically correct expression.  If this expression sounds wrong to you, add it to your idiom flashcards and review it until it sounds right.  Eliminate this choice.   

C.  “In an effort to + verb” is not on the Knowsys list of frequently tested idioms, but it is a common idiomatic expression.  If you are not familiar with this expression, add it to your idioms flashcards.  Eliminate this choice.  

D.  This choice includes a pronoun, so you should ask yourself, “does this pronoun refer back to a clear antecedent?”  In this case, the antecedent for “their” is unclear.  Who are the people to whom this word refers?  This is the error in the sentence.

E.  You have found an error, which means that E cannot be correct.

The correct answer is D.
This is a hard level problem.

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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.

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, who was assassinated in November 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

A.  John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, who was assassinated
B.  The 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated
C.  The 35th president of the United States who was assassinated, John F. Kennedy,
D.  John F. Kennedy was assassinated, being the 35th president of the United States
D.  John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated

Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8 grammar concepts.


This question tests your understanding of sentence structure.  What do you notice when you read the original sentence?  It is a sentence fragment that lacks a verb.  Why isn’t “was assassinated” the verb in the original sentence, you ask?  The verb “was assassinated” is part of a relative clause, so it cannot function as the main verb in the sentence. Find the answer choice that creates a sentence with a complete subject and verb.

A.  Choice A is always the same as the original sentence.  You found an error in the original sentence, so you can eliminate choice A without even reading it.  

B.  This choice merely rearranges the first two parts of the sentence.  The sentence created by choice B still lacks a complete subject and verb.  Eliminate it.

C. The sentence created by choice C sounds awkward and lacks a complete subject and verb.  Eliminate this choice.  

D.  Always avoid answer choices that include the word “being.”  This choice makes it sound like Kennedy was temporarily taking on the role of  president, which does not make sense.  Eliminate this choice.

E. By process of elimination, E must be right, but you should read the choice just to be sure.  Choice E contains a complete subject and verb  (John F. Kennedy was assassinated).  This is the correct answer.  


The correct answer is E.
This is a medium level question.

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SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

Select the choice that results in the best sentence – the sentence that follows the requirements of standard written English and communicates effectively.

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Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not “hear” the error immediately, then quickly check each of the underlined portions against the Big 8 grammar concepts.

A. This choice contains a prepositional phrase, which is a type of modifier.  According to Knowsys rules, when you see a modifier you should ask yourself:  “is the modifier clear, effective, and logical?”  This modifier clearly refers to the “skyscraper,” and it makes logical sense.  Eliminate this choice.  

B. The concept tested in this choice is idioms.  When you see a prepositional idiom underlined ask yourself, “is the expression or word choice correct?”  It is idiomatically correct to say that something is located “across the street from” something else.  Eliminate this choice.  

C.   This choice contains an adverb.  Knowsys rules stipulate that you should know what adverbs look like and how they function.  Many adverbs end in “ly,” and they modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.  This adverb is used correctly because it modifies the adverbial prepositional phrase “beside [the public square].”  Eliminate this choice.  

D.  Whenever you see a verb underlined, ask yourself whether it agrees with the subject of the sentence.  The subject in this sentence is a simple compound subject (two or more words linked with “and”).  The two parts of the subject are “the modern skyscraper” and “the massive glass aquarium.”  Simple compound subjects take a plural verb, so the singular verb “was” is incorrect.  Mark this error.  

E. You have already found an error, so E cannot be your choice.

The correct answer is (D).
This is a hard level question.

 

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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.

Since that restaurant requires for customers to pay in cash, we will have to stop by the ATM beforehand.

A. Since that restaurant requires for customers to pay in cash
B. Since that restaurant requires that customers should pay in cash
C. That restaurant has a requirement that customers pay in cash
D. When you go to that restaurant it is required for customers to pay in cash and therefore
E. Since that restaurant requires customers to pay in cash

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.

If you noticed that the underlined portion sounds “off,” then you have a good ear for idioms.  A restaurant does not “require for customers to pay in cash”, a restaurant “requires that customers pay in cash,” or it “requires customers to pay in cash.”  We need to find a choice that uses one of these idiomatically correct phrases.  

A.  Choice A is the same as the original sentence, which contains an error.  Eliminate this choice.

B.  This choice would work, except that it includes an unneeded word, “should.”  Eliminate this choice.

C.  There are two problems with this choice.  First, the wording of the phrase “has a requirement that customers pay in cash” is awkward and unnecessarily wordy.  Second, this choice creates a comma splice because it turns the sentence into two independent clauses joined by a comma alone.  Eliminate this choice.

D.  This choice is wordy, which you should always avoid.  Additionally, this choice results in an incorrectly punctuated sentence.  There needs to one comma after “restaurant” and another after “cash.”  Eliminate this choice.

E.  This choice uses an idiomatically correct expression, “requires customers to pay in cash,” and it does not introduce any new errors.  This must be the correct answer.  

The correct answer is (E).

This is an easy level question.

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SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

Read the sentence and select the portion of the sentence that contains an error if there is an error.  If there is no error, select E. 

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Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors.  Then quickly check the underlined portions against the Big 8 grammar concepts.  Mark the error when you find it, and quickly check any remaining choices.

What makes this question difficult is that the original sentence is complex and hard to understand.  Before you consider any errors, read through this sentence a couple of times to get a feel for how it is structured.  Once you have gotten past the convoluted nature of the sentence itself, the error should be easy to spot.  

A.  This underlined portion contains a verb, “has been raising.”  Always check to make sure verbs are in the correct tense and that they agree with the subject.  This particular verb is singular, so it agrees with the subject “the Miller Group.”  The verb is in the present perfect tense, which works because the action began in the past and continues into the present.  Eliminate this choice.

B.  It is idiomatically correct to say that something has been happening “since” some year in the past.  Eliminate this choice.

C.  There is nothing wrong with this choice at first glance.  “Annually” is an adverb that tells you when the organization donates money to schools.  It is not until you read to the end of the sentence that you realize what is wrong with choice C.  “Each year” means the same thing as “annually,” so “annually” is redundant and should be eliminated.  Keep this choice and quickly check the remaining options.

D.  It is idiomatically correct to say that money is donated “to” a group.  Eliminate this choice.  

E. You have already found an error, so E cannot be your choice.

The correct answer is (C).

This is a hard level question.

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