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Idioms

Link of the Day

Today’s link is actually two links.  Read this article and then this article.  Both articles are about the same event, but they have very different interpretations of that event.  Why do they differ so much?  What does this tell you about finding news on the internet?  Even if you think that you have found a good news source, double check the accuracy of the report. 

Next think about these articles in terms of a current event.  How could you use the information surrounding the fact that a man just won $338 million to support a position on an SAT essay? What conclusions could you draw about the themes of money, fame, power, motivation, success, planning, chance, and even information?

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 8 Grammar Rules.  Identify and mark any error, but be sure to look at all of the answer choices.

Between 1508 to 1512, Michelangelo, working on a scaffold 60 feet above the floor, painted the vaulted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome with hundreds of giant figures that represented his vision of the world’s creation. No error

(A)  The underlined word “to” connects two different times.  This is actually a conflation of two different idioms.  You can say “from 1508 to 1512,” but there is no “from” in this sentence.  Instead, you have the word “between.”  The correct idiom is “between x and y,” so you must change the “to” into an “and.”  Make this change and quickly look at the rest of the answer choices.

(B)  Whenever you see an “-ing” ending, check to make sure it is necessary.  Here, the “-ing” ending lets you know that this is not the main verb.  The main verb is “painted.”  The entire part of the sentence that reads “working on a scaffold 60 feet above the floor” is set off by commas and simply describes Michelangelo’s position while painting.  The preposition “on” is the correct preposition because Michelangelo is actually on top of the scaffold.  There is no error here.

(C)   This underlined portion is idiomatically correct.  You can use the word “with” to say “I paint with a brush” and mean that you are using the brush, but you can also use the word “with” to indicate what you have painted.  Both uses are correct.  Michelangelo has painted “hundreds of giant figures.”  The preposition “of” is also idiomatically correct.  There is no error here.

(D)  When you see the word “that,” check to make sure that the word “which” is not needed.  The word “which” must have a comma before it, and there is no comma here.  The word “represented” is also correct.  It is in past tense to match the tense of “painted.”  Although you could change the tense of “represented” and still be technically correct, you are looking for errors, not ways to revise the sentence.  There is no error here.

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

The correct answer is (A).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 55% 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!

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 sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then quickly check the underlined portions of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Mark any error that you find.

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

(A) The word “as” can be used to introduce how something once was or how something once was thought to be.  That is the way this sentence uses “as,” so there is no error here.

(B) Start by checking that the correct “its” is used.  “Its” is possessive and matches the previous “its” that is not underlined, so it must be correct.  Notice that the sentence uses the idiomatic phrase “from x to y.”  Whenever you see this format, you should check to make sure that the words that replace the variables x and y are parallel.  “Its modest beginnings as…” matches the format of “its establishment as…,” so there is no error here.

(C) Whenever a verb is underlined, check to make sure that it matches the subject and that it is in the correct tense.  The show transformed (past tense) the way people view (present tense) the show.  The change in tense is okay here because the change had to take place in the past in order for you to see an effect of the change in the present.  There is no error here.

(D) When you see the word “both,” you should immediately look for the idiomatic format “both x and y.”  An “and” follows this “both,” but the x and y are not parallel.  Only one has an article: “the.”  “The audiences” does not match “television programmers” in format.  Eliminate the extra article, "the."

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

The correct answer is (D).


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

For more help with SAT vocabulary, 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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then quickly check each underlined portion against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  If you find an error, mark it, but be sure to check all of the choices.

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

(A) If the phrase “long been” sounds odd to you, you are on the right track.  The word “been” is unnecessary because it is followed by the alternative and better verb “isolated.”  Eliminate it.  Note: the word "been" requires some variation of the phrase "have been."  Mark this error and quickly check the other answer choices.

(B)  The preposition “from” is idiomatically correct to explain what something is isolated from or set apart from.  There is no error here.

(C)  It is idiomatically correct to use the phrase “high in the mountains,” so there is no error here.

(D) The correct article, "an," is used before a word beginning with a vowel.  That word is also singular (a single region).  The modifier “autonomous” is placed as close as possible to the word it modifies, “region.”  There is no error here.

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

The correct answer is (A).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 73% 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 whole sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then check each underlined portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  When you think you have identified an error, mark it and quickly check the other answer choices.

Except for the phonograph, the performances of great musicians and the voices of famous people would have been lost to historyNo error

(A) Did the sentence sound strange to you when you read it?  Paraphrase it in your mind.  The sentence should convey the meaning that if there was no phonograph, we would not know how past musicians sounded.  However, there is an inappropriate word choice.  In order for the meaning of this sentence to be clear, the words “except for” must be replaced with the word “without.”  Mark this error and quickly check the other underlined portions.

(B) The preposition “of” is idiomatically correct following the word “performances.”  In addition, the modifier “great” is placed close to the word it modifies, “musicians.”  There is no error here.

(C) Many students incorrectly write “would of been” when the idiomatically correct phrase is “would have been.”  This sentence does not include that error.  There is no error here.

(D)  The words “lost to history” clearly and concisely convey the idea that these sounds would only have occurred in the past if the phonograph did not allow us to continue to hear them in the present.  There is no error here.

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

The correct answer is (A).


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

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

Idioms

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 whole sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion in terms of the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the most glaring error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

The reason the film’s stream-of-consciousness imagery is so successful is because of its capture of the sensorial experience of childhood.

If you are just looking at the underlined portion of this sentence, you will notice that the word “of” is repeated.  That is a problem; however, there is a bigger problem.  Look at the phrase “is because.”  These two words are listed in your Knowsys book--they should never be next to each other.  They are redundant; you only need one or the other.  The word “is” is not underlined, so you know that you must delete the word “because.”  From here your goal is to select the most concise and clear wording to replace the rest of the underlined portion.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) because of its capture
(B) capturing of
(C) because of capturing
(D) that it captures
(E) for its capturing

(A) This choice matches the original sentence, so you can eliminate it without spending time reading it.

(B) This choice is not clearly worded because it lacks the pronoun “it” from the original phrase.  The Knowsys handbook also tells you to avoid introducing words that end in “-ing” unless they are needed for parallelism.

(C) This answer does not change the phrase “is because” that you identified as an error.

(D) This answer choice produces a sentence that is clear and concise.  Think about how natural it sounds to say “The reason is that,” and you will understand why this choice is idiomatically correct.

(E) This answer choice changes the meaning of the sentence when it inserts the word “for.”  It also introduces an unnecessary “-ing.”

The correct answer is (D).


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

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

Subject Verb Agreement

Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

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

Read the entire sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then quickly check each of the underlined portions against the Big 8 Grammar Rules. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The correct answer is (C).


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

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

Idioms

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.

Being that she has a gift for comic timing, Esmeralda is a natural when it comes to storytelling.

The Knowsys handbook advises you to avoid the word “being” because it implies an ongoing action, which generally doesn't make sense in written sentences.  In order to improve this sentence, you will need to replace the “being that” with an idiomatically correct expression.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) Being that she has a gift for comic timing
(B) In having a gift for comic timing
(C) With her gift for comic timing
(D) Although she has a gift for comic timing
(E) Comically timed

(A) You can eliminate this choice without reading it because it matches the original sentence.

(B) The words “in having” do not improve the original sentence.  The Knowsys handbook advises you to avoid answer choices that add words that end in “–ing,” unless those words are necessary for parallelism.  There is no parallel verb with an “-ing” in this sentence, so you can eliminate this choice.

(C) This is an idiomatically correct and concise way to express the idea that Esmeralda has been gifted with comic timing.  The word “with” lets you know that this gift is something that she possesses now.  Keep this answer choice.

(D) This answer choice includes an “although.”  This incorrectly expresses the relationship between the two sentence parts.  There is no contrast between these two ideas; they are logically linked with one as the function of the other.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This answer choice is too short to convey all of the meaning of the original sentence, and it is awkward to describe a person as “comically timed.”  Eliminate this choice.

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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The correct answer is (E).


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

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

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, listening for errors.  Then quickly check each underlined portion against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.

The jury awarded first prize in the architectural competition to a firm known not only for itsinnovative design and also for its environmentally friendly building practices. No error.

(A) When a verb is underlined, check to make sure that it matches the subject of the sentence.   The phrase “jury awarded” has no error.

(B) Someone or something can be “known for” a specific trait or traits.  A “for” follows the underlined “known,” so there is no error here.

(C) Check any pronoun to make sure that it matches its antecedent.  “It” refers to the “firm” stated in the sentence.  Now check to make sure that you need “its” rather than “it’s.”  “It’s” means “it is,” which does not make sense in context.  The possessive “its” is needed here, so there is no error.

(D) The “and” links two things, but it does not express the full meaning that is necessary for this sentence.  Anytime you have the phrase “not only” it must be followed by the word “but.”  This fact is listed on your Knowsys Frequently-Tested Idioms chart.  For example, I will order not only this but also that.  Mark this error.

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

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!

Idioms

Writing: Improving Sentences

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

Read the original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find in order to eliminate wrong answer choices.

One time a candidate for the Democratic nomination for United States president in 1972, Shirley Chisholm won 152 delegates before withdrawing from the race.

This sentence should sound odd to you as you read it.  It does not logically connect the “candidate” to “Shirley Chisholm,” even though the two are the same person.  You need a way to show that Shirley Chisholm was the candidate, uniting these two thoughts into a single precise sentence.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) One time
(B) She was
(C) Being
(D) To be
(E) As

(A)  This answer will not be correct because it matches the awkward phrasing of the original.  You don’t even need to read it to eliminate it.

(B)  This choice does not fix your original problem.  In addition, it creates a comma splice: two independent sentences incorrectly joined by just a comma.  Eliminate it.

(C)  The Knowsys Writing Strategies advise you to avoid the word being.  “Being” implies ongoing action, which generally does not make sense in written sentences.  In this particular sentence, we know that Shirley Chisholm is no longer a candidate because she withdrew from the race.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  This answer choice changes the meaning of the sentence.  Shirley Chisholm did not win delegates before withdrawing from the race in order to become a candidate.  Logically, she must be a candidate before she can win any delegates or withdraw from the race.  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  The word as is the idiomatically correct preposition to show that someone has taken on a specific role in society.  For example, Bob is working as an accountant and Julie is working as a dentist.  In this sentence, you know that Shirley Chisholm must be acting as a candidate in order to win delegates.  This answer choice fixes your original problem by clearly indicating that the candidate and Shirley Chisholm are the same person.

The correct answer is (E).


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

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

Idioms

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, listening for errors.  Then quickly check each underlined portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.

The Bear Gulch Limestone Formation in Montana is a sequence of bedded limestone layers up to 90 feet thick and approximately 8 miles acrossNo error


(A)  The word “in” is the correct preposition to indicate a location such as Montana.
(B)  The phrase “up to” is an idiomatically correct way to inform readers that the layers will not be more than 90 feet thick.
(C)  The word “and” is the correct conjunction to demonstrate the relationship between these two measurements.  There is no contrast between the two requiring a word such as “but,” and the two measurements do not depend on each other so they do not require a word such as “so.”
(D)  You are already given a number to describe the thickness of the layers, so you must have a way of telling what the second number measures.  The word “across” provides the needed information.
(E)  You found no errors.  Remember that you are not looking to revise the sentence; you are only looking for errors.

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 44% of the responses were correct.

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

Idioms

Link of the Day

It is now the month of November!  On the 1st of November in the year 1512, the Sistine Chapel ceiling was opened to the public.  Read an article about this amazing work of art here, and see the whole ceiling here.  This would make an excellent historical example for your SAT essay.  Think about the broad themes of creativity and planning in connection to this historical example.  What other themes connect to this work of art?

11/1 Identifying Sentence Errors:  Idioms

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 consider each underlined portion of the sentence, asking yourself whether it complies with the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  If you find an error, mark it.  Then quickly check the other choices.
Most ships move through the Suez Canal with their own power, but large ships must be assisted by a tugboat. No error

(A)  The word “move” is a verb.  Check to make sure that it agrees with the subject of the sentence.  It does.

(B)  Think about the word “with” in context.  “With” generally means “accompanied by,” or “in the same direction as.”  Is that the meaning that you need in this sentence?  No!  This is an improper idiom.  The power is actually moving the ship.  You need a word that will express that relationship.  Try inserting the word “under” or “by” into the sentence to make it idiomatically correct.

(C)  Check that the pronoun has one and only one antecedent and that it agrees in number with that antecedent.  “Their” refers to multiple “ships,” so it is correct.  Each ship also has its own level of power, so the addition of the word “own” makes sense.

(D)  The phrase “must be” adds important information to this sentence.  You could change it to another word such as “are,” but that would change the meaning of the sentence and is completely unnecessary because there is no error in this underlined portion.

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 45% of the responses were correct.

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

Idioms

Identifying Sentence Errors

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

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

In the interior of the Arctic islands during the melting season, even small streams must be crossed with great care because near-zero water temperatures and the typically rocky and unstable nature of stream beds. No error

(A)  Before the word “care,” it is idiomatically correct to use the word “with.”  Think of the phrase “handle with care.”  There is no error in this underlined portion.

(B)  The word “because” may seem right at first.  The word “because” indicates that there is a reason for the previous statement.  Why should you cross with care?  Cross with care because the waters are cold and the stream beds are unstable.  However, if you read until the end of the sentence, you will find that there is no verb after the word because.  That should sound odd to you; you should feel as if you need to add the phrase “are there” or “are dangerous” to the end of the sentence.  Think of other words that you could use to express reasons why you must cross with care.  The phrase “due to” may come to mind.  Replace “because” with “due to,” and you have found the correct idiom.

(C)  The word “typically” modifies the word “rocky.”  It lets you know that the streams in the Arctic are usually, but not always rocky, so it includes essential information.  The modifier is placed as close as possible to the word it modifies, so there is no error in this underlined portion.

(D)  What kind of bed is unstable as the ice melts?  You are not concerned with the beds in your home, only stream beds.  There is no error in this underlined portion.

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

The correct answer is (B).


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

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

Idioms

Improving Sentences

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

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

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.

As you read the sentence, you probably noticed that the phrase “for studying” is awkward.  Take a moment to think about the information that is presented in the underlined portion.  You are given the purpose of the provision and then who it is provided for.  What phrase was just used with the “who?”  The phrase “provided for.”  If the who is “provided for” and that information is logically linked, it makes sense to place the who directly after the “provide plant materials for” and let the information about why it is provided come next.  You are simply inverting the order of the information in the underlined portion to better match the prepositional idiom.  Look down at the answer choices and see which one includes “medical students” right after the “for” and then places the information about studying at the end.

(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) is the same as the original.  (B)  matches your prediction about the changes that needed to be made. (C) is not as concise as (B) and requires an extra pronoun to say the same thing.  (D) changes the meaning of the original sentence in a humorous way.  Now it seems as if the medical students are being studied!  (E) lacks the emphasis that the original sentence places on the purpose of the plant materials.  Changing from “for” to “that” creates a subtle shift in meaning; it becomes more important to know that the garden provides materials than to know why they are provided.

The correct answer is (B).


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

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

Idioms

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.  Get an overview of the whole sentence so that you understand the structure and the meaning.  Then evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to eliminate wrong answer choices quickly.  If an answer choice does not fix the error that you found, it must be incorrect.

Lady Day, as Billie Holiday was usually called, was the finest jazz singer of her generation, and it was the opinion of her fans, she was the greatest jazz singer of the twentieth century.

This sentence just sounds awkward, doesn’t it?  Look at how the sentence tries to introduce an opinion by stating “it was” the opinion of her fans.  How do you normally introduce an opinion?  Have you ever typed or texted IMO or IMHO?  Those are acronyms for “in my opinion” and “in my humble opinion.”  Notice that the preposition that introduces an opinion is “in.”  In my opinion…  In her opinion…  In their opinion…  Look down at your answer choices and check whether any use the correct idiom to introduce an opinion. 

(A) it was the opinion of her fans, she was
(B) the opinion of her fans was of her as
(C) her fans had this opinion, she was
(D) for her fans, the opinion was of her as
(E) in the opinion of her fans, she was

(E) is the only answer choice that uses the word “in!”  None of the other choices fix the awkward phrasing of the original.  (A) matches the original phrasing.  (B) uses the phrase “of her as,” which takes the “she was” from the original sentence and makes it awkward.  Idiomatically, it is much more common to say “the opinion of her fans was that she was… (C) would require a colon rather than a comma.  (D) uses the phrase “for her fans.”  This phrase introduces Billie Holiday again (through the perspective of her fans), so something referring to her must come next, either her name or “she.” Instead there is “the opinion was of her.”

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 80% of the responses were correct.

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

Idioms

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 of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules. If you identify an error, mark it and quickly check the rest of the sentence. Remember, you are checking the sentence for errors, not for parts that could be rephrased to sound better.

Modern vegetable farming ranges from small-scale, low-technology production and local sale and vast commercial operations that utilize the latest advances in automation and technology. No error

Begin by asking yourself, “Are there any problems?” If something sounds odd to you, identify the rule that has been broken.

(A) The word “modern” is a modifier that helps you understand what kind of vegetable farming the author is talking about. It is already placed as close as possible to the phrase that it modifies, so there is no error in this portion of the sentence.

(B) The word “and” is used twice in this sentence, but repetition is not the real problem. Go back to the phrase “ranges from.” If something ranges “from” one thing, it must range “to” another thing. The correct idiom is not “ranges from x and y,” but “ranges from x to y.” Mark this error and quickly check the other answer choices.

(C) Check that the word “utilize” matches “commercial operations.” It does: “commercial operations utilize” makes sense. The “that” is present because this is not the main subject of the sentence. If you remove the “that” you will create sentence structure problems because there will be a complete sentence within the sentence.

(D) The “latest advances” are definitely things that commercial operations could utilize. 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, 74% of the responses were correct.

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

Pronouns and Idioms

Link of the Day

Today’s SAT question has to do with basketball.  As you select your current events for your SAT essay, choose events that interest you, but remember that your goal is to convince readers that you are thoughtful and well informed.  A single basketball game might not make a great current event, but analyzing the success of a team or taking a look at an individual’s impact on society could be a fascinating intellectual exercise.  A lot of SAT questions deal with the themes of change, motivation, and success; these are themes that are easy to spot in any sport. Take a look at this article and think about the way that it links sports and education.  Particularly notice the current trends in urban education.  

Identifying Sentence Errors

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

Read the original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Once you have read the sentence carefully, go through and check each underlined portion against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Mark any error you find, but be sure to quickly check the remaining portions before selecting your answer.

According to their high school basketball coach, although Beth and her sisters worked equally hard in practice, Beth tended to outperform them both during games. No error

(A) is a pronoun so check to make sure it agrees with its antecedent.  This is a tricky antecedent to find because the antecedent actually comes after the pronoun; it is “Beth and her sisters.”  Both the pronoun and antecedent are plural, so (A) has no error.

(B) underlines “although.”  This word necessitates a contrast, so check to make sure that there is a contrast in the sentence.  You read that all the girls work hard, but that Beth excels during games.  The contrast is necessary and (B) has no error.

(C) isolates an idiom.  After the word “tend” or “tended,” the “to” is necessary before the statement of what that person tends to do.  (C) has no error.

(D) is a preposition qualifying when Beth performs the best.  It is idiomatically correct to say “during” games rather than saying “for” games or using any other preposition because games last a specific duration of time.

(E) is the only option that you have left.  Even though you might be able to revise this sentence to sound better, there are no grammatical errors.  Do not be afraid to pick (E) once you have checked all of the blanks for errors!

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 45% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Structure

Link of the Day

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

8/30 Improving Sentences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Idioms

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.  

As you read the following sentence to yourself, listen for errors.  Evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to eliminate wrong answer choices, but do not forget that there may be more than one error in these types of questions.

Digital technology, like every marketer knows, it is synonymous with speed, precision, and the future.

One of the first things that you should notice when reading this sentence is that the underlined portion includes the word “like.”  The Knowsys material covers the word “like” because it is overused.  The word “like” should only be followed by nouns and pronouns, but in this sentence the word “like” is followed by the verb “knows.”  Instead of the word “like,” this sentence requires the word “as,” which can be followed by nouns and verbs together.  Make a note of that error.  You can now look down at your answer choices and begin eliminating incorrect choices.  However, there may be answer choices that do not use the words “like” or “as,” and there may be multiple answer choices that use the word “as.”  You have not yet finished examining the sentence just because you found one error.  When you read the sentence the first time, did any other part of the underlined portion sound strange to you?  Is the word “it” necessary?  Ignore the extra information between the two commas and the sentence reads “Digital technology it is synonymous with speed, precision, and the future.”  Make a note that the word “it” is an unnecessary pronoun that must be eliminated, and look down at your answer choices.

(A) technology, like every marketer knows, it is
(B) technology, similar to what every marketer knows as
(C) technology, as every marketer knows, is
(D) technology is what every marketer knows as
(E) technology that every marketer knows is

You know (A) is incorrect without reading it because you already identified errors in the sentence.  (B) sounds awkward and changes the sentence so that it is missing a verb.  “Digital technology” is the simple subject, but there is no simple verb to follow it.  (C) matches the changes you made perfectly.  You could probably have guessed this answer after only finding one error in the sentence, but accuracy is also important  to maximize your score.  (D) sounds awkward because of the word choices.  The word “as” is especially odd within the context of the sentence.  (E) subtly changes the meaning of the sentence because the subject is no longer all “digital technology,” but instead must be read as only the “digital technology that every marketer knows.”

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 80% of responses were correct.

Want more help with the writing section?  Visit myknowsys.com!