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Style

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 focus in on the underlined portion, and evaluate it using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.

The first public botanical garden in the United States, the Elgin Botanic Garden in New York City was established to provide plant materials for studying by medical students.

The underlined portion of the sentence should sound awkward and wordy to you.  Look at the phrase “by medical students.”  You normally use the word “by” with a finished product.  For example, a book is “by an author,” but these medical students are just studying.  This sentence concerns the reason for something's existence so you know that how you use the word "for" will be important   Why are the plants provided?  The primary reason that they are there is that they are for medical students.  Others can also study these plants, but they are intended for medical students.  The correct answer will probably have the preposition “for” followed by “medical students.”

(A) for studying by medical students
(B) for medical students to study
(C) to medical students for their study
(D) for the study of medical students
(E) that medical students will study

(A)  This answer choice matches the awkward original.  Eliminate it.
(B)  This answer choice matches your prediction, and it is clear and concise.  Keep it.
(C)  This answer choice is not glaringly incorrect, but it is not as concise as it could be.  You can construct the sentence so that the pronoun “their” is unnecessary.  Eliminate this choice.
(D)  This answer choice subtly changes the meaning of the sentence.  Now it seems as if the medical students are being studied!  Eliminate this choice.
(E)   This answer choice seems okay, but remember that the original sentence is about the purpose of the plants.  The plants should be there for a specific group of people or a specific reason.  This answer choice makes the medical students of secondary importance and does not adequately indicate the purpose of the plant materials.  The park seems as if it was established simply to provide plants.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 72% of the responses were correct.

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


ACT Question of the Day:

The ACT English questions are structured a little differently than the Grammar questions on the SAT, but they test the same rules.  Check out this question:

The RCA executives who created the 
powerful NBC network were right to see that
sizable profits would come from this new medium.

Choose the best alternative for the underlined part.

(A) NO CHANGE
(B) which
(C) having
(D) as

To answer this question correctly, all you have to know is that executives are people.  When you refer to people you use the word “who.”

The correct answer is (A).

For the ACT Question of the Day, visit http://www.act.org/qotd/.

For more help with ACT questions, 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 carefully, then focus on the underlined portion and evaluate it using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to eliminate wrong answer choices.

The main tennis stadium of the US Open, named after the African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe and located in New York City, who won the first ever US Open men's singles title in 1968.

The original sentence is a fragment; there is no main verb to carry out the action of the sentence.  You need to look for an answer choice that adds a verb, but is also clear and concise.

(A) named after the African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe and located in New York City
(B) located in New York City and named after the African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe
(C) which is named after the African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe and is located in New York City
(D) located in New York City, is named after the African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe
(E) being located in New York City and having been named after the African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe

(A)  Eliminate this choice without reading it.  It matches the original.

(B)  This sentence is better than the original sentence because it moves the modifying phrase “located in New York city” to describe the tennis stadium rather than Arthur Ashe.  People may live in one place, but they are generally free to move about, and you cannot state with certainty that they will be located in a specific place for an indefinite amount of time.  However, this sentence does not fix the original error that you found; it is still a fragment.  Eliminate this choice.

(C)  This sentence is still a fragment.  The last modifying phrase “who won…” also describes the stadium rather than Arthur Ashe.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  This answer choice fixes the original sentence structure problem by including a verb.  It essentially says the stadium is named after a certain person, then adds two modifying phrases.  Both of those modifying phrases are as close as possible to the subjects that they modify; the tennis stadium is followed by its location, and Arthur Ashe is followed by a description of his accomplishments.  Keep this answer choice.

(E)  The Knowsys handbook tells you to avoid the word “being.”  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 66% of the responses were correct.

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

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. 

Read the entire sentence to yourself once, listening for errors.  Then quickly check each underlined portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Mark any error you find.

Today, also representing nations and other political entities, flags are used to represent youth groups, athletic competitions, and international bodies. No error

(A)  This part of the sentence should sound odd to you.  It is normal to hear about one thing and also another thing; something must be introduced before you can add to it with the word “also.”  When you want to point out that there are at least two things involved before listing either of them, use the phrase “in addition to.”  Mark this improper idiom and quickly check the other answer choices.

(B)  The conjunction “and” links two things.  The word “other” reminds readers that although nations are political entities, there are political entities that are not nations.  Without “other” the words “political entities” would sound redundant.  There is no error here.

(C)  This part of the sentence is passive, but flags cannot use themselves; they must be used by others.  The subject of the sentence comes right after the introductory phrase so there is no modifying error.  The noun “flags” and the verb “are” agree because both are plural.  There is no error here. 

(D)  It is idiomatically correct when talking about the purpose of something to say that the item is “used to do something.”  Here the correct preposition “to” is used, and the flag is used to represent certain groups.  There is no error here.

The correct answer is (A).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 72% of the responses were correct.

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

Modifiers

Link of the Day

Traveling is easier than ever today, and many people routinely take vacations in distant places.  Travelers can increase awareness of wonders and issues around the globe, but they can also drastically change the places that they visit.  Take a look at this article about how tourists are changing the feeding habits of stingrays in the Caribbean.  Think about the SAT question, “Can success be disastrous?” in terms of the area’s success in entertaining tourists.  Then think about the broad themes and specific details that could help you use this current event as an excellent example for any SAT essay prompt.

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 carefully, listening for errors.  Then focus on the underlined portion of the sentence and check it against the Big Eight Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate answer choices that do not address that error.

Combining both figurative and abstract elements in his paintings, such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn were greatly influenced by American artist Willem de Kooning, a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement.

The key to this question is realizing that the only part of this sentence that you cannot change is an introductory phrase.  In an introductory phrase, the subject is not clear; you do not know who is doing the “combining,” although you do know that the subject must be male and singular due to the pronoun “his.”  For any introductory phrase followed by a comma, the very next independent noun must be the subject of the sentence.  You can eliminate any answer choice that does not have the subject who is “combining” as the very first independent noun!

(A)  such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn were greatly influenced by American artist Willem de Kooning, a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement

(B)  a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement who greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn was American artist Willem de Kooning

(C)  American artist Willem de Kooning became a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement and greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn

(D)  Willem de Kooning, an American artist who became a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement and greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn

(E) and a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement, Willem de Kooning greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn as an American artist

Explanations:

(A)  This answer choice matches the original.  It follows the introductory phrase with “such painters,” but you know that the subject of this sentence must be male and singular.  Eliminate this choice.

(B)  The words “a key figure” identify the artist “Willem de Kooning,” but you do not learn the name of the artist until the very last part of the sentence.  This choice does not fix the modification error that you found, and it is also wordy and unnatural because it inverts the subject and verb, putting “was” before “Kooning” in an unnecessarily passive structure.  Eliminate this choice.

(C)  This choice fixes the problem that you found in the original sentence.  The first independent noun after the comma is “Willem de Kooning” because the words “American artist” modify how you understand who Kooning is.  The rest of the sentence is clear and free of errors.  Keep this choice.

(D)  This sentence is long, but it is still a fragment.  There is no main verb because everything after the comma describes who Kooning was, but does so without a “to be” verb.  Also, notice that Kooning’s name is alone between two commas.  This construction is generally only used when you are providing an alternative way to address someone or when you are addressing that person directly.  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  This choice is unnecessarily wordy.   One of the issues that the extra words creates is that the words “as an American Artist” are now separated from Kooning and seem more connected with Diebenkorn, changing the meaning of the sentence.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 63% of the responses were correct.

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

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!

Style

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.  Then evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

The advent of innovative computer and communications technology toward the end of the twentieth century ushered in a new era, not dominated by industry anymore, rather it was information.

This sentence has a style problem: it uses very complicated language to say something very simple.  You want to convey the meaning that the era was dominated by information instead of industry.  Look for a concise way to say this that is grammatically correct.

(A) era, not dominated by industry anymore, rather it was information
(B) era, it was dominated by information over industry
(C) era, which was not dominated anymore by industry but rather information
(D) era dominated by information rather than industry
(E) era dominated not by industry, but it was information

(A)  This answer matches the original wordy sentence.  Eliminate it.
(B)  This answer is a comma splice (two sentences incorrectly joined by only a comma.)  Eliminate it.
(C)  This sentence is better than the original, but you do not need both “but” and “rather.”  Both words show contrast, so they are redundant.
(D)  This answer is clear and concise.  Keep it.
(E)  This answer has a random and unassociated “it.”  Avoid answers that include pronouns without an antecedent.  Eliminate it.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 70% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Structure

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 underlined portion of the sentence against the Big Eight Grammar Rules.  Select an answer after you have reviewed all of your choices.

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

(A)  Use the word “most” when you are comparing more than two things.  There are definitely more than two sharks in the world, so the word “most” is correct.

(B)  The word “sharks” is your subject.  You know that it must be plural.  Turn your focus to the word “living.”  Whenever you see an “-ing” ending, check to make sure that this form of the verb is necessary.  The word “living” is necessary if you want to use the phrase between the two commas as a way of modifying or describing the word sharks.  However, if “living” is part of a modifying phrase, then where is the verb that shows what the sharks are doing?  There is no main verb.  This sentence is a fragment.  In order to fix the fragment, you must eliminate both the underlined comma and “living” and simply use “sharks live.”

(C)  The word “though” sets up a contrast, just like the word “but.”  There is a contrast in this sentence between where most sharks live and where two particular sharks live.  The word “though” is correct.

(D)  The preposition “around” is idiomatically correct to describe the waters surrounding Antarctica.  The word “Antartctica” is a proper noun, and it is capitalized.  There is no error here.

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

The correct answer is (B).


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

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

Sentence Structure

Link of the Day

The SAT essay question is essentially a broad question about the state of humanity.  That is why you can research a few examples from history, literature, and current events and have details prepared for your test before you are given an essay prompt.  Read this current event about how scientists have connected the brains of two rats.  Write down important details from the article.  Then answer this SAT essay question using the details and facts you wrote: Is there always another explanation or point of view?  If you feel comfortable using this example to support an idea on that topic, try this topic as well:  Is creativity needed more than ever in the world today?  The more detail you remember from a current event, the more likely it is that you will be able to relate that current event to your test question.

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.  Next, evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate any answer choices that do not fix that error.
  
The finest quality raw silk comes from the commonly domesticated silkworm, Bombyx moriit feeds on the leaves of the mulberry tree.

This sentence is a comma splice; it has two complete sentences that are incorrectly joined by a comma.  You will need your answer choice to fix this problem.

(A) it feeds
(B) feeding
(C) they feed
(D) which feeds
(E) having fed

(A)  Eliminate the first choice because it matches the original sentence.

(B)  The simple subject of the first part of the sentence is “silk.”  The silkworm cannot be the subject of the sentence because it is part of a prepositional phrase (from the commonly domesticated silkworm).  It doesn’t make sense to say that the silk is feeding.  Eliminate this answer choice.

(C)  This choice does not fix the sentence structure problem, and it introduces a new problem.  The word “silkworm” is singular, but the pronoun “they” is plural.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  The underlined portion of the sentence comes after a comma.  If you want to add additional information after a comma, you need the word “which” rather than the word “that.”  This choice fixes the original problem with the sentence by turning the last portion of it into an appropriate modifying phrase.  Keep this choice and quickly check the remaining answer choice.

(E)  Whenever you see an “ing” ending, check to make sure that this is the correct form of the verb.  When the word “having” comes before a verb, it indicates that this action comes prior to another action.  For example: Having finished my homework early, I went out to eat with my friends.  In your original sentence, there is no other verb that could be attributed to the silkworm, so this choice is unnecessarily wordy.  Eliminate this answer choice.

The correct answer is (D).


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

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

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

If you have been following the news about the meteor that hit Russia, here are some more details about the event.  This article will help you make human connections through your current event by showing how people reacted to a sudden event.  Some searched for explanations, some volunteered for clean-up, and some strove to profit from the event.  Motivation is a reoccurring theme in SAT essay prompts, and these responses could be used to support a variety of opinions about human nature and activities.

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 sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Quickly check each underlined portion against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Identify and mark any error that you find, but be sure to look at all the choices before selecting your answer.

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

(A)  Any time you see a verb with an “–ing” ending, check to make sure that the word is in the proper form.  Here you have an introductory phrase followed by a comma.  The “ing” format helps to indicate that this phrase is supplemental, that it modifies the coming independent clause.  There is no error here.

(B)  The word “than” indicates a comparison.  You already know that the sentence will contain a comparison because of the word “fewer.”  Now check the verb “does.”  Normally a verb comes after the subject, so you might be tempted to link “recycling” and “does.”  However, this portion of the comparison is actually focused on “the conventional pulping and bleaching processes” and what they do to create paper.  Notice that “processes” is plural, so you need the word “do” instead of the word “does.”  This is inverted subject-verb error and is often tested on the SAT. Mark this error and quickly check the other choices.

(C)  The words “that” and “which” both provide additional information, but the word “which” must be preceded by a comma.  There is no comma before the underlined portion, so “that” is correct.  There is no error here.

(D)  Processes are used to do something.  No other form of “create” will work in this underlined portion.  There is no error here.

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

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 73% of the responses were correct.

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

Subject Verb Agreement

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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Often there will be more than one error, but you should focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

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.

When you have a sentence with a lot of punctuation, it is a good idea to check subject and verb agreement.  What is the simple subject of this sentence?  The subject is not the recipe (which is part of a prepositional phrase), but “all of the ingredients.”  The sentence is really about all of the ingredients, which are for the recipe and include chocolate and are in the pantry.  Now that you have identified the subject, find the verb.  In this case, the verb is separated from the subject by both a prepositional phrase (for Pablo's ... recipe) and a relative clause (which ... chocolate).  The word “was” is your verb.  Put the two together.  You would never say “all of the ingredients was;” you would say “all of the ingredients were.”  Once you have identified one error, you can quickly eliminate any answer choices that do not fix the error that you found.  Look down at the answer choices.

(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

(A)  Eliminate this choice without reading it because it matches the original sentence.

(B)  This answer choice fixes the error that you found, but it adds an unnecessary pronoun: they.  Eliminate this choice.

(C)  This choice associates the main verb of the sentence with the chocolate rather than all of the ingredients, creating a sentence fragment.  There is no main verb for your subject.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  Your Knowsys book tells you to avoid the word “being” whenever possible because it suggests ongoing action that is more appropriate for a play-by-play than most written works.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This choice fixes the error that you found.  Notice that it also eliminates the word “which” and changes “included” to “including.”  This change clarifies the meaning of the sentence.  Read the original sentence and notice that the relative pronoun “which” could refer to all of the ingredients or the recipe.  This ambiguity is eliminated in this answer choice because the present participle “including” clearly shows that chocolate was one of all of the ingredients that were located in the pantry. 

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 74% of the responses were correct.

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

Parallelism

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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then check each underlined portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Identify and mark any error that you find, but be sure to quickly check the remaining answer choices before selecting your answer.

Used in place of buttons, hooks and eyes, or laces, the zipper consists of two rows of plastic or metal teeth and bound to the edges of two strips of fabric. No error

(A) The phrase “in place of” just means “instead of.” It is idiomatically correct, so there is no error here.

(B) Buttons, hooks and eyes (which is basically a "combo set"), and laces are all ways to attach two pieces of fabric.  Usually, only one of these different things will be used on a garment at a time; I have never seen a coat that closed with a couple buttons, then a hook, and then laces.  For this reason the “or” is correct.  The zipper replaces whichever one of these things is used on the garment in question.  There is no error here.

(C) Check to make sure that the word “consists” matches the subject.  You would not say “the zipper consist of,” so “consists” is the right form of the verb.  If you check your Knowsys idioms chart, you will also notice that “of” is the idiomatically correct preposition to follow “consists.”  There is no error here.

(D)  Something strange happens to the meaning of the sentence at this point.  You cannot say “the zipper consists of one thing and bound another thing.” That would not be parallel structure.  You could say “the zipper consists of one thing and binds another thing.”  However, you cannot use the phrase “binds to” (you would need “binds it to”), and the “to” is not a part of the sentence that you can change.  Look at the meaning of the sentence.  The zipper is not what is bound to the edges of the fabric; instead, it is the metal teeth.  You could eliminate the word “and” to fix the problem, or you could change the underlined portion to read “that are.”

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

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 63% of the responses were correct.

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

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

You probably already heard about the meteor that landed in Russia.  Take a moment to review the relevant facts here.  Then think about how you can use an event that everyone is already talking about as an excellent current event example on the SAT essay.  Think about broad themes that relate to this topic, such as technology, preparation and planning, fear, organized responses, sudden change, and many more.

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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

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

The underlined portion of this sentence contains the word “neither,” a word that should prompt you to check subject and verb agreement.  There are two people involved in this sentence, but is the subject plural?  This sentence is saying that neither one king nor the other king was crowned in the aforementioned place.  Notice the verb “were”!  You cannot have the plural verb “were” in this sentence; you must use “was.”  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) neither of them were
(B) neither were
(C) neither of whom was
(D) with neither being
(E) with neither who had been

(A)  Eliminate this choice without reading it because it matches the original sentence.

(B)  This answer choice does not fix the subject and verb agreement error that you found.  Eliminate it.

(C)  This one fixes the first error that you found.  Before you assume that it is correct, notice that it also changes the pronoun “them” to “whom.”  Check to make sure the “whom” is okay.  You are talking about a person using a singular verb, so the plural pronoun “them” was already suspect.  Your Knowsys book spends a lot of time on choosing between “who” and “whom,” but one of the rules that you learn is that you must always use “whom” after a preposition.  The word “of” is a preposition, so “whom” is correct.  Quickly check the other answer choices.

(D)  You should always avoid choices using the word “being” because it implies an ongoing action.  The two crownings that did not happen were in the past.  Eliminate this answer choice.

(E) This choice is unnecessarily complex and wordy.  Like the choice before it, it incorrectly uses the word “with,” which generally means “accompanied by” or “characterized by,” neither of which makes sense in this context.


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

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

Pronouns

Link of the Day

Did you watch the State of the Union Address?  If you missed President Obama’s speech, here is a text version.  This could be one of your current events, but it is a long speech, so it might be better to look up a couple of the issues that the President wants to bring before the country.  One of the things the President mentions is preschool.  Read this article and think about how many different themes are mentioned.  Then check the list of previously released essay topics (online or in your Knowsys book on page 229) and imagine how you could use this issue as an excellent example for any of these topics.  It directly relates to many of the SAT questions!

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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then quickly check each underlined portion against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Mark any error you find, but be sure to check all of the answer choices.

Formerly called manacles or shackles, handcuffs consist of two metal rings joined by a short chain; once fastened shut, it requires a key to open. No error

(A) Formerly is an adverb modifying the word “called.”  It is in the correct format with an “–ly” on the end and is as close as possible to the word it modifies.  If you want to be sure that it is correct, substitute a synonym such as “previously” and read the sentence.  The meaning is clear and precise, so there is no error here.

(B) When a verb is underlined make sure that it is in the correct tense and that it matches the subject in number.  Handcuffs still exist, so it is correct to shift from past to present tense in this sentence.  The word “handcuffs” is plural, so the verb “consist” is correct.  You would not say “handcuffs consists.”  The preposition “of” is also idiomatically correct after “consist;” check the frequently-tested idioms list on page 172 of your Knowsys book to confirm this. 

(C) This might be a tempting answer because it has an “–ed” ending.  The tense of a sentence supposed to be as consistent as possible, right?  Think about it this way: if a pair of handcuffs exists now, it was made in the past.  You also cannot change it to any other form, such as “joining,” without changing the meaning of the sentence.  There is no problem with the phrase “joined by.”

(D) When a pronoun like the word “it” is underlined, you must identify its antecedent.  The “it” is supposed to take the place of the noun “handcuffs,” but there is a problem.  “Handcuffs” is plural while “it” is singular.  You need the word “they” instead of the word “it.”  Mark this error.

(E) This answer choice is not correct because you already marked an error.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 54% of the responses were correct.

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

Modifiers

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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 grammar rules.  Use the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

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

One of the rules of modifiers is that when you have an introductory phrase followed by a comma, the very next independent noun must be the subject of that phrase.  However, instead of the name of the person who served, Barbara Jordan, this sentence follows the comma with “Barbara Jordan’s election.”  There is no way that the election served two terms!  Mark this error and look down at your answer choices.

(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

(A) Eliminate this choice without reading it because it matches the original sentence.

(B) A person who serves is not an “it.”  This sentence does not lead with Jordan’s name as you know that it ought to.  In fact, “it was” is called an expletive construction and your Knowsys book tells you to avoid these whenever possible.  Eliminate this answer choice.

(C) Eliminate this answer choice for the same reasons as you eliminated the previous ones.  Notice that this answer choice also fails to provide an antecedent for the pronoun “she,” another problem with the original sentence.

(D) This choice fixes the modifier problem that you found, but the phrase “had been elected” is unnecessarily wordy.  It doesn't make sense to say that after doing one thing, a person had been something else.  The word “been” implies ongoing action, but you are looking for something that happened after something else.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This choice is short, clear, and concise.  It is passive, but Barbara Jordan could not actively elect herself, she had to depend on others to do that.  This is an appropriate use of the passive voice.

The correct answer is (E).


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

For more help with SAT writing, visit www.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. 

Read the entire sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then check each underlined portion against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Identify any error that you find, mark it, and quickly check the other choices before selecting an answer.

Among the most widespread of marine animals, starfish and sea urchins inhabit all seas except that of the polar regions. No error

(A) The word “among” is used if there are more than two people or things involved.  In this sentence, starfish and sea urchins are among the most widespread of marine animals.  There are far more than two different kinds of marine animals, so there is no error here.

(B) The word “most” is used when more than two things are being compared.  In this sentence, starfish and sea urchins are being compared to all other marine animals, so there are more than two things being compared.  The word “of” is also the idiomatically correct preposition to use to introduce the group out of which the starfish and sea urchins are the most widespread.

(C) Whenever a verb is underlined, check to make sure that it matches the subject.  The subject of this sentence is “starfish and sea urchins.”  Does the subject match the verb in number?  You would never say “starfish and sea urchins inhabits all seas” so there is no error here.

(D) It is perfectly fine to make an exception to a statement.  However, you still need to check the pronoun that follows the word “except.”  What word is the antecedent of “that?”  The word “that” is taking the place of “seas.”  “Seas” is a plural word, but “that” is singular.  Instead of “that,” the plural pronoun “those” should be used.  Mark this error.

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

The correct answer is (D).


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

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

Pronouns

Link of the Day

Is the world changing for the better?  There are a variety of ways that you could approach this previous SAT essay question, but take a look at this article before you answer it.  It seems that people are living longer but not healthier.  Look for themes in this article that might show up in other SAT questions.  Some obvious themes are the contrast between young and old, the difference between generations, health, individual ability, dependency, and self-perception.  If any of these topics come up in your SAT essay prompt, this would make a great current event example to substantiate your thesis.  Make sure you note the facts from this article if you chose to use it as one of your five prepared current events.

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 original sentence, listening for errors.  Evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.

The wide variety of spices and condiments used in sausage making including salt and, it depends on the ethnic or regional origin of the recipe, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, garlic, vinegar, mace, pepper, chili peppers, or pistachio nuts.

This sentence has two problems that your Knowsys book tells you to always avoid.  Any time you see an “-ing” underlined on the SAT, check to make sure that it belongs there.  You will never need two “-ing” ending words in a row unless you are looking at a list.  Check back to make sure you know the subject connected to the verb “including.” The subject of the sentence is “variety.”  You would not say “The variety including salt,” you would say “The variety includes salt.”  Mark this error.

Then notice the word “it.”  The word “it” must have an antecedent so that it is not a random and unassociated pronoun.  "The wide variety" is the only thing that could be the antecedent for "it," but if you substitute in “the wide variety” where “it” is, the sentence becomes difficult to understand as it jumps from an observation into a list.  The unnecessary pronoun “it” is causing this difficulty, so mark this error and look down at your answer choices.  Only one will solve both of these problems.  The other choices all contain specific errors.

(A) including salt and, it depends
(B) include salt, depending
(C) includes salt, and it depends
(D) includes salt and, depending
(E) including salt and, depending

(A) This answer matches the original sentence and can be eliminated without a second glance.

(B) This choice has a subject and verb agreement error.  “The wide variety” is singular so it requires a singular verb.  You would not say “the variety include;” you would say “the variety includes.”  Eliminate this choice.

(C) Including the word “it” causes problems with the sentence structure of this sentence because “it depends on the ethnic or regional origin of the recipe” is an independent clause.  Notice that there is a comma that comes after the preceding “and.”  You cannot have an independent clause inserted as an aside that is set off from the rest of the sentence by only commas.  Eliminate this choice.

(D) This answer gets rid of both of the problems that you initially identified.

(E)  This answer choice still has the awkward “-ing” phrasing.  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 55% 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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Quickly check the underlined portions of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Identify and mark any error you find, but look at all of the choices before selecting your answer.

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

(A)  The word “an” is the correct article to use when the following word begins with a vowel.  There is no error here.

(B) The word “from” is the idiomatically correct preposition to explain the origin of something.  There is no error here.

(C) This is the first verb in the sentence.  Whenever a verb is underlined, check to make sure that it matches the subject.  Remember, the subject of the sentence cannot be part of a prepositional phrase such as “of milk” or “from dairy farms nearby.”  That leaves only one noun: “supply.”  Would you say “an abundant supply make?”  No!  “An abundant supply makes” is correct.  Mark this error and quickly check the remaining answer choices.

(D)  Check the article first.  “A” is correct because the sentence is talking about one specific place as a producer.  The word “leading” is a modifier that tells you that this place doesn’t just produce things, it produces them well and is among the best places to do so.  The modifier “leading” is as close as possible to the word it modifies, “producer,” so there is no error here.

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

The correct answer is (C).


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

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

Parallelism

Link of the Day

One of the most interesting aspects of living in today’s world is having an abundance of information at the tip of your fingertips.  A released SAT essay prompt asks, “Has today’s abundance of information only made it more difficult to understand the world around us?”  Before answering, read this current event about information storage.  You could use this article to answer yes – we have difficulty storing all the information and accessing it, or no – we are getting better and better at storing information.  There is no right answer.  However, using specific details from this article will make you sound a lot more intellectual than if you just answer with an “I think” statement.  Using facts to back up your opinion is crucial.  Identify other themes in this article that you could relate to other SAT prompts if you want to use this as one of your five prepared current events.

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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then focus on the underlined portion and evaluate it using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Use the first error that you find to quickly eliminate any choices that do not fix that error.

For both his shorter and longer works of fiction, Gabriel García Márquez achieves the rare feat of being accessible to the common reader while satisfying the most demanding of sophisticated critics.

As soon as you see the word “both,” you should think of your idiom chart.  The word “both” is used in the structure “both x and y.”  This sentence has an “and,” but are the x and y parallel?  Remember that when two things are linked they must have the same grammatical form.  In this case you have “his shorter” followed by “longer.”  If you have a possessive for one element, you must have a possessive for the second.  Focus on this error and look down at your answer choices.

(A) For both his shorter and longer
(B) For both his shorter, and in his longer,
(C) In both his shorter and his longer
(D) Both in his shorter and his longer
(E) Both his shorter and longer

(A) You already found a problem with the original sentence.  The first choice always matches the original sentence, so you can eliminate it without reading it.

(B) This choice adds a possessive to both elements, but it also adds the preposition “in,” which means that the structure is still not parallel.  The extra comma that has been added is unnecessary and introduces an error rather than making the sentence more clear.

(C) This sentence is parallel: “his shorter” and “his longer.”  Notice that the preposition “for” has been changed to the preposition “in.”  Does this clarify the meaning of the sentence?  Yes!  In the original sentence, it seems that Márquez is doing something “for” his books (is he concerned about their understanding?), when the focus is supposed to be on what he is doing for readers and critics “in” his books.  Keep this choice and quickly look at the remaining choices.

(D)  This sentence links “in his shorter” and “his longer.”  These two elements are not parallel because only one has the preposition “in.”

(E) This answer choice is again not parallel; however, notice that there is a bigger problem.  Read the entire sentence, and it should be clear to you that without any preposition in the underlined portion this sentence has a major structure error. 

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 66% 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. 

Always read the entire sentence to yourself so that you understand its structure and meaning.  Listen for errors as you read the sentence, and then evaluate each underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Identify any error that you find and mark it, but be sure to quickly check all of your choices.

Aside from Shakespeare, perhaps no writer in English have engaged the public’s imagination more thoroughly than Charles Dickens.  No error

(A)  This is an idiomatic phrase that means the same thing as “apart from” or “except for.”  The word “from” is the correct preposition to follow “aside.”  There is no error here.

(B)  The word “perhaps” adds a degree of uncertainty to the sentence.  Of course you could eliminate it, but that would change the meaning of the sentence.  There is no error here.

(C)  When you have a verb underlined, always check that it matches the subject.  Here the subject is separated from the verb by the prepositional phrase “in English.”  Ignore that phrase.  Would you say “no writer have engaged?”  No!  You must use the singular verb “has” instead of the plural verb “have” because “writer” is singular.  Mark this error and move on.

(D)  The word “more” is used when only two things or people are being compared.  Here a nonexistent, hypothetical writer (singular) is compared to Charles Dickens, so “more” is correct.  The word “thoroughly” is a modifier.  It ends in “-ly,” as adverbs should, and is placed as close as possible to the word it modifies.  The word “than” is used for comparisons; the word “then” is related to time and used for sequences.  There is no error here.

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

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 81% 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!