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Modifiers and Verbs

8/3 Identifying Sentence Errors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The correct answer is (E).


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


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

Pronoun Antecedent Agreement

Link of the Day

As you are preparing for the SAT, it's a good idea to start thinking about which colleges you want to apply to. It's important to set goals and know what scores you want to get. US News and World Report has a great list of the top colleges here. The list includes a variety of different categories including "best value schools" and "A+ Schools for B students."

6/25 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.

"Improving Sentences" questions are very straightforward. All you need to do is look at the underlined portion. If there is an error or some obvious fault in the underlined portion, make a prediction about how you could improve the sentence. Then look at the answer choices. Remember that the correct answer choice will not always match your prediction exactly (since there are often several ways to improve a sentence). Even so, predicting will help you to analyze why the sentence is less than ideal as it stands. Also, don't forget that sometimes the sentence is best the way it is (in which case you will select answer choice (A)).

The well-preserved, 121-million-year-old fossilized bird embryo on display at the museum has several features that suggest that its young could move about and feed themselves very soon after they hatched.



As you read the sentence, make sure to carefully analyze what the sentence is implying. In this case, it sounds as thought it is the "121-million-year-old fossilized bird embryo on display at the museum" that have young that "could move about and feed themselves . . . ." Clearly, a 121-million-year old fossilized embryo cannot have young. Instead, it is the type of bird that comes from the embryo whose "young could move about and feed themselves . . ." You need to select the answer that makes this clear.

(A) its
(B) her
(C) their
(D) the species'
(E) for this species

As the sentence is written, it isn't clear (and in fact, it's misleading) so you can eliminate answer choice (A). (B) uses an inappropriate pronoun (you wouldn't refer to a 121-million-year-old fossilized embryo as "her"). (C) is also wrong. Remember that "their" should never be used as a neuter gender singular pronoun. (D) Fits your prediction well. It specifies that it is the young of the species of the fossilized embryo that "could move about . . . " (E) uses the word "this" which is unnecessary in this case.

The correct answer choice is (D)

On sat.collegeboard.org 49% of the responses were correct.

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


Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

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

6/4 Identifying Sentence Errors

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

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

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



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

The correct answer is B.

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

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




Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

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

5/29 Identifying Sentence Errors

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

The correct answer is choice B.

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

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

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the day

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

5/26 Improving Sentences

Part or all of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A. 

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

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

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

(A) which included the special dark chocolate, was

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

(C) including the special dark chocolate that was

(D) including the special dark chocolate, being

(E) including the special dark chocolate, were

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


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

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

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

The first zipper design was patented in 1851, but zippers did not become widely popular until the 1930s, when they were added to children's clothing and touted for their contributions to the youngsters' self-reliance. Early zippers look downright dangerous to modern eyes, though their earliest uses were on shoes and boots rather than clothing. 

5/23 Identifying Sentence Errors

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

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

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



First, read the sentence to get a feel for how it sounds. If you have a good ear for grammar, D should sound strange to you because the conjunction "and" is not used correctly. A conjunction connects two things together, but in this sentence, "and" is used only with "bound." To be used correctly, another verb must be used with "bound;" for example, "aligned and bound." Before marking this as the correct answer, quickly check the other options to make sure you are choosing the correct one.

A: "in place of" introduces the longer phrase "in place of buttons, hooks and eyes, or laces." "In place" is a prepositional phrase modifying the participle "used," and "of buttons, hooks and eyes, or laces" modifies "place." These are used correctly.

B: "or" is a coordinating conjunction, like "and," but it carries a different connotation. "And" conveys that two or more items are grouped together and act similarly within the context of the sentence, but "or" conveys that, of two or more items, only one does what the sentence says. In this case, one attachment point would use either a button, a hook-and-eye closure, or laces, so "or" is correct.

C: "consists of" is an idiomatic expression used to introduce items that make up a larger whole. It is used correctly here to communicate that the parts of a zipper make up a whole zipper.

D: "and bound" does not connect another verb to "bound," so it is incorrect.

The answer is D.


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


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

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

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

5/20 Improving Sentences

Part or all of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

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

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

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


A) neither of them were

B) neither were

C) neither of whom was

D) with neither being

E) with neither who had been

The answer is C.


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


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

Verb Tense

Link of the Day

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

5/14 Improving Sentences

Part or all of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

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

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

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



A) Barbara Jordan's election

B) it was Barbara Jordan who was elected

C) it was Barbara Jordan's election

D) Barbara Jordan had been elected

E) Barbara Jordan was elected

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


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


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

Pronouns

Link of the Day

Sea stars, frequently misnamed "starfish," are fascinating creatures with no brain, no bones, and no blood. They are best known for their ability to regenerate their own limbs, and are a great example of the ability to adapt to any environment. 

5/11 Identifying Sentence Errors

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

First, always read the sentence as if none of it were underlined. If something sounds strange or wrong, focus on that. Figure out which underlined part of the sentence you could change to correct that problem. Next, double-check the other underlined sections to make sure that they are correct. Finally, select the correct answer choice.

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

Does anything sound strange? The last part of the sentence should because it has a problem. The word "except" is fine; it is a preposition, and it is used correctly. The same is true of "of," but look closely at the word "that." "That" is a pronoun, which means it must agree with one antecedent in the sentence. "That" refers to the word "seas," which is plural, so it might seem obvious that "that" should be the plural "those" in order to agree. However, because of the context of the sentence, "that" could still make sense. Imagine if the sentence referred to "all the books except that by Mr. Bob," or "all the jellybeans except that in Katie's stomach." The word "except" indicates a separation between the pronoun and its antecedent and creates a strange situation where the two do not actually have to agree, and, of course, this can create ambiguity. This sentence does not refer to books or jellybeans but to seas, specifically those "of the polar regions." If the seas are in both polar regions--that is, on both the northern and southern extremes of the globe--they cannot be the same sea. Since "that of the polar regions" needs to refer to multiple seas, the correct form is "those."



Look at the other answer choices before you mark this one on your answer document.

A: "Among" is a preposition that refers to three or more items or people. For only two, use "between." In this sentence, "among" refers to "marine animals." Since there are hundreds or thousands of different marine animals, "among" is correct.

B: "most widespread of" is an unusual construction that defies certain "normal" rules of grammar, but it is considered correct standard English.

C: "inhabit" is plural and present tense, referring to all the starfishes and sea urchins that live in seas and oceans all over the world. It is used correctly.

The answer is D.


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


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


Verb Tense

Link of the Day

The Great Texas Sausage Festival in Somerville, TX, is proof that people will celebrate anything and everything! With everything from Doggie Costume Parades to Lawn Mower Races, this festival celebrates everything great about Texas. 

5/8 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. 

First, always read the sentence to see what sounds strange or wrong. Remember not to bother looking at choice A; since it's the same as the sentence you've already read, it's a waste of time. Use the original sentence to make a prediction about the correct answer, then compare the answer choices to your prediction.

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.

What a mess! First, this sentence has no main verb. "Including" is a participle here, and "depends" is part of a modifying phrase. At least, it seems like it is part of a modifying phrase; with the word "it" acting as a subject of the verb, everything from "it" to "recipe" is technically an independent clause. The word "it," though, is a pronoun with no antecedent; it does not refer back to anything in the sentence.

The correct answer, then, will probably eliminate "it" entirely. It will change "including" to a main verb that agrees with the subject (What includes? The variety includes) and "depends" to a participle.



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 and E both keep the participle form "including," so eliminate them. C has "depends" instead of "depending," so eliminate it as well. The only difference between B and D is the word "and." In the original sentence, "and" marks a difference between salt and all the other ingredients listed: namely, that salt is almost if not always included, and the other ingredients depend on the origin of the sausage recipe. Without the word "and," that distinction is lost. The answer is D.

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


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


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

Idioms

Link of the Day

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

Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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


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

Idioms

Link of the Day

It is not uncommon for migrant workers to find pay in Florida's orange groves. Picking fruit is hard work, and because it is seasonal, many Americans will pass it over in favor of a more steady job. However, sometimes these migrant workers are in dire straits, and they are taken advantage of. This unedited interview with Miguel tells how he came to America hoping to earn enough money for his son's cancer treatments, but found fear and desperation. 

5/2 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 sentences. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

First, read the sentence and predict how to solve any problems you identify. After that, look for an answer choice that matches your prediction or finds another way to solve those problems. Focus on differences among the answer choices to quickly eliminate wrong answers.

About 35 percent of the world's orange juice is produced by Florida, comparing it with nearly 50 percent produced by Brazil, the world's largest orange producer. 

Clearly, the underlined portion needs to be changed. The pronoun "it" has no antecedent (it is not standing in for any noun in the sentence), and the correct idiom for comparing things that are different is "compared with." Check the answer choices for an option that avoids these errors.


A) comparing it with

B) but

C) whereas

D) although

E) compared with

The answer is E.


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


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

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

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

4/29 Identifying Sentence Errors

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

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

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



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

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

An abundant supply make the Bern region a leading producer. 

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

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

Before committing to C, check the other answer choices.

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

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

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

The answer is C.


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


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

Idioms

Link of the Day

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the most famous and most well-loved authors in the Spanish-speaking world. His autobiography broke records in 2001 as the best-selling book ever. He is known for writing in the genre of magic realism, seamlessly blending the fantastical and the everyday. One of my favorite short stories of his is A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, in which a decrepit old man with wings tumbles out of the sky after a storm and is put on display by the farmers who find him. Soon the farmers begin to charge for admittance and make a handsome profit off the strange old man. Villagers come to debate whether he is an angel or just a strange old sailor who smells like fish. Read and decide for yourself!

4/26 Improving Sentences

Part or all of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing sounds better than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

First, read the sentence to see what sounds strange or wrong. Use that as your prediction and look among the answer choices for something that fixes the problem you found.

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

The biggest problem here is the word "both." Whenever you see the construction "both X and Y," remember that all the words between "both" and "and" need to be duplicated or paralleled after the word "and." The original sentence said "both his shorter and longer works," using "longer" as the parallel word for "shorter" but ignoring "his." Look for an answer choice that uses "both" correctly.


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

Choice B adds the word "in" and some unnecessary punctuation. Eliminate it. Choice C places "in" before "both" and correctly replicates the words between "both" and "and." C might be the correct answer, but check the others first. Choice D duplicates the word "his" but ignores "in," so you can eliminate it as well. Choice E drops the word "his" after the "and," so it is not correct either. The answer is C, which has the added benefit of using the more appropriate pronoun "in" to discuss what Marquez accomplishes within his writing. Here is the corrected sentence:

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


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


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Subject-Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

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

4/23 Identifying Sentence Errors

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer is C. 


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


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Participles

Link of the Day

Frida Kahlo is famous for her self-portraits and for her ability to blend surrealism with elements of her traditional Mexican culture. This site has a short biography and images of all her works. Look through them and consider how they make you feel. Some are sad, some simple, some downright creepy. Pick a few favorites and memorize the details around them--the date they were composed, the subject matter, the color scheme, and Kahlo's situation when she created the paintings--and you can use them as Excellent Examples that will really make your essay stand out. 

4/20 Improving Sentences

Part or all of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

Always take the time to read carefully and make a prediction before looking at the answer choices. You should also avoid looking at choice A since it is the same as the original sentence.

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

The word "where" does not fit in this sentence because heritage is not a location. Obviously, Kahlo incorporated symbols of her heritage into her work, so some form of the word "incorporated" is still needed in the sentence. You might want to use "incorporated" as your prediction, but check the sentence:

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

The word "incorporated" alone does not work. It is a verb, but the sentence does not provide a subject. What you need is something that looks like a verb, but doesn't act like one. For example, the participle "incorporating." Now that you have a prediction, look at the answer choices.



A) where she incorporated

B) in which she incorporated

C) incorporated

D) incorporating

E) therefore, she incorporated

Eliminate A and C immediately, since you have already ruled them out. D matches your prediction, but there is always a chance that your prediction was not the best possible version of the sentence, so check B and E.

B) "in which she incorporated" is very similar to the original "where she incorporated" because "in which" still indicates that she is somehow incorporating things inside of her heritage. That does not make sense! Eliminate B.

E) "therefore, she incorporated" makes sense, but the punctuation is wrong. "She incorporated" begins a sentence that could stand on its own, and the sentence up to the word "heritage" could similarly stand on its own. Between two complete sentences, you can never have just a comma. You could have a period, a semicolon, or a comma and a conjunction, but since "therefore" is not a conjunction, eliminate E.

The answer is D.


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


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Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

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

4/17 Identifying Sentence Errors

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The answer is B.


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

Verbs

Link of the Day

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

4/14 Improving Sentences

Part or all of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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Verb Phrases

Link of the Day

Tibet, the highest nation in the world, has a rich history spanning well over a thousand years. If you have in interest in Chinese or Tibetan history and culture, excellent examples could be found in the Dalai Lama, the Potala Palace, or the Jokhang Temple.

4/11 Identifying Sentence Errors

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

First, read the sentence to see if anything "sounds wrong," and use that as your prediction. Check that section of the sentence against the English grammar rules you know, and if necessary continue to check the other options as well. Finally, select the section of the sentence that contains the error.
Long been isolated from the outside world and perched high in the Tibetan Himalayas, Lhasa is the capital of Tibet, an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. No error

First, read the sentence. Does anything sound strange? A probably does, so check that answer choice first.

Focus on the word "been" first. Verbs are often the easiest to evaluate. "Been" is a helping verb, but there is not another verb here for it to help. The next word, "isolated," looks like a verb, but it is acting as an adjective in this sentence; therefore, "been isolated" cannot be the verb phrase of this sentence. the answer might be A, but check the other choices quickly before making a selection.

B: "from" is a preposition. Its object is "world," and it modifies the participle "insulated." It is used correctly.

C: "high in" functions as a single preposition with "Tibetan Himalayas" as its object. The prepositional phrase modifies "perched" and is used correctly.

D: "an autonomous region" is an appositive, a phrase that describes or defines a noun. They are almost always set off by commas. This phrase modifies "Tibet," so it is used correctly.

The answer is A.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 79% of responses were correct.


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Idioms

Link of the Day

Maria Luisa Bombal wrote "highly poetic works about women trapped within the constraints of a patriarchal society" and blurs the lines between realism and fantasy. 

4/8 Improving Sentences

Part or all of the following sentence is underlined; beneath are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A. 

Always read the sentence before looking at the answer choice so that you can make a prediction. Remember not to look at choice A until last; since it is the same as the original sentence, it is a waste of your time. 

Chilean novelist and short-story writer Maria Luisa Bombal wrote innovative and influential stories about heroines which create fantasy worlds in order to escape from unfulfilling love relationships and restricted social roles. 

There are only three words in the underlined portion of this sentence, so it will be easy to check each of them individually. First, "heroines" is the plural form of "heroine," a female hero. Always include the "e" on the end of the word! "Heroines" is also the object of the preposition "about" and the subject of the relative clause that extends to the end of the sentence. The verb of the clause is "create," which is plural to match "heroines," so both of those words are used correctly. 

Next, look at "which." "Which" is a relative pronoun, so it introduces a clause that relates to a specific noun in the sentence. When you see a word like "who," "whom," "which," or "that," always check to which noun the clause connects. In this case, it is "heroines." "Which" should never refer to a person! Use "who" or "whom" for people and "which" or "that" for things. Now that you have a prediction, look at the answer choices. 

A) heroines which create

B) heroines, they create

C) heroines, they created

D) heroines who create

E) heroines that were creating

The answer is D. 


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

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