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Pronouns

Link of the Day

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

Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Pronouns

Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The correct answer is (D).


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

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

Pronouns

Link of the Day

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

Writing: Improving Sentences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 55% of the responses were correct.

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

Pronouns

Writing: Improving Sentences

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

Read the entire original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.

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.

There are two things that you should immediately notice about the underlined portion of the sentence.  The first is that one of the underlined words ends in “-ing,” but does not have any reason to do so.  The second is that you have an unassociated “it.”  The “it” is intended to refer to the percent of juice, but “it” seems to refer to Florida within the context of the sentence.  Your Knowsys book specifically tells you to watch for both of these things and avoid them.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) comparing it with
(B) but
(C) whereas
(D) although
(E) compared with

(A) You already found two problems with the original sentence.  This choice always matches the original sentence, so eliminate it without reading it.

(B) The word “but” sets up a contrast; however, the original sentence sets up a comparison.  This answer changes the meaning of the original sentence.  In addition, if you read the whole sentence, you will notice that the portion after the comma is missing the verb “is.”  The verb “is” would be necessary for parallelism because you have “is produced” and then only “produced.”  When there is a comma before the word “but,” a complete sentence with subject and verb should follow.  Eliminate this choice for any of these reasons.

(C) This answer choice has the same parallelism and sentence structure problem as the previous choice.  Eliminate this choice.

(D) The word “although” sets up a contrast rather than a comparison.  It also has the same parallelism and sentence structure problem as the previous two choices.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This choice eliminates both of the problems that you found in the original sentence and produces a sentence that is clear in meaning.  It does not have the parallelism or sentence structure problem that other choices had because those words, when preceded with a comma, are meant to link complete sentences, but “compared with” does not indicate that a complete sentence is coming.

The correct answer is (E).


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

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

Pronouns

Link of the Day

Many SAT essay questions ask about decision making.  Should decisions be based on feelings?  On facts alone?  How do you decide what is relevant in decision making?  Take a look at this article about a wolf that has found its way to California.  Taking care of the planet by preserving a diverse array of species is important.  Keeping humans and their cattle safe is also important.  What is your opinion about this current event?  What themes do you see in this story that are likely to appear on an SAT essay question?

Writing: Improving Sentences

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

Read the 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.

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

As you read this sentence, you should realize that the stories are not escaping from unfulfilling love relationships and unrestricted social roles; the heroines are creating fantasy worlds to escape.  Heroines are people.  To refer to people, always use “who” or “whom,” never “that” or “which.”  Replace the word “which,” with the word “who” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) heroines which create
(B) heroines, they create
(C) heroines, they created
(D) heroines who create
(E) heroines that were creating

(A) This answer matches the original sentence, so you can eliminate it.

(B) This answer creates a comma splice.  There are two complete sentences on either side of the comma that should be separated with a period.  Eliminate this choice.

(C) This answer creates a comma splice and is also in the wrong tense.  When speaking about literature, use the present tense.  You don’t have to match the tense used when speaking about the author.  Eliminate this choice.

(D) This answer matches the correction that you made.  Keep it and check the last choice.

(E) Never use the word “that” to refer to people.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (D).


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

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

Pronouns

Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

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

Read the entire sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then turn your focus to each underlined portion, using the Big 8 Grammar Rules to quickly check for errors.  If you think you have identified an error, mark it and quickly check the remaining choices.

Scientists researching artificial intelligence have turned its attention to the biology of the human brain and its billions of neurons to get inspiration for the next generation of computers. No error.

(A)  When an underlined portion of the sentence contains a word ending in “-ing,” always check to make sure that the “-ing” is necessary.  In this case, the words “researching artificial intelligence” are meant to describe which scientists the sentence concerns.  “Researching” is not the main verb in the sentence, and the “-ing” helps to show that.  There is no error here.

(B)  When a pronoun is underlined, make sure that you know what it refers to.  In this sentence, “its” seems to refer to the artificial intelligence, but that does not make sense.  It is the scientists who are paying attention to the brain and looking for inspiration.  Scientists are people, so the word “its” is an incorrect possessive pronoun.  The correct pronoun would be “their.”  Mark this error and quickly check your other options.

(C)  Here the possessive pronoun “its” refers to the human brain, so the antecedent matches the pronoun.  The word “of” is also the correct preposition to idiomatically express that there are “billions of” something.  There is no error.

(D)  The word “next” modifies “generation” and lets you know which generation the sentence is concerned about.  The modifying word is placed as close as possible to the word that it modifies, so there is no error here.

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

The correct answer is (B).


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

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

Pronouns

Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

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

Read the whole sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then check each portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  If you think that you have found an error, mark it and quickly check the remaining underlined portions of the sentence.

Most states have various levels of football competition in their high schools so that schools with similar numbers of students compete only against themNo error

(A)  Check for subject and verb agreement.  The word “states” is plural, so you need the word “have” and not the word “has.”  There is no error here.

(B)  The word “their” is actually a possessive pronoun.  Where is the antecedent; what does it refer back to?  It refers to the states, and it is plural just like the word “states.”  If you tried to insert the word “its” in here, you would be introducing an error because “its” is singular.  There is no error here.

(C)  The word “similar” modifies the word “numbers.”  The modifier is placed as close as possible to the word it is modifying, so there is no error here.

(D)  Once again, you have a pronoun.  What does the word “them” refer back to?  By now it could refer to a number of nouns, “states,” “high schools” or “schools.”  Pronouns should only refer to one antecedent.  More than one antecedent will make the sentence impossible to interpret.  The word “them” must be changed to “one another” or “each other.” Mark this error.

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


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

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

Pronouns

Writing: Improving Sentences

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

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

They determine the color and flavor of honey by the flowers from which the nectar is taken.

Did you find a problem in the original sentence?  Who is “they?”  Not only is there not an antecedent for this pronoun, but there is also not a reason to have a pronoun or noun here.  There is no group of people (or even animals) who determines the color and flavor of honey; the sentence already tells us that these things are determined by the flowers.  Mark the problem that you found.  Realize that you cannot just take out the word “they” without creating new problems in the sentence.  You will have to rearrange the sentence in order to continue using that verb “determine.”  If you cross out “They determine,” where could you add that verb back into the sentence so that it remains a complete sentence?  Take a look at your answer choices to see whether they address the pronoun problem that you found in the sentence.

(A) They determine the color and flavor of honey by the
(B) Honey’s color and flavor is determined by which
(C) Honey’s color and flavor determined by those
(D) The color of honey, and its flavor, determined by the
(E) The color and flavor of honey are determined by the

(A)  You don’t need to reread this option because it matches the original.  Eliminate it.
(B)  There is an extra and unnecessary “which” in this answer choice.  If you select this answer choice, you will have the word “which” twice in the sentence, confusing the meaning of the sentence.  You did not find an error in the phrase “by the flowers,” so there is no need to change it.  Eliminate it. 
(C)  The word “those” is unnecessary.  Also, remember that the Knowsys Writing Strategies tell you to avoid words that end in –‘s.  It is awkward to say that honey possesses its own color and flavor.  Can honey really possess anything when it is only a product of a process?  Eliminate it. Note: this logic would also have worked to eliminate answer choice (B).
(D)  This choice lacks a verb, and it also makes the flavor of the honey less important than the color of the honey.  That is not true in the original sentence where both are given equal weight.  Eliminate it.
(E)  There are no problems with this answer choice.  It is clear and precise.

The correct answer is (E).


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

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

Pronouns

Writing: Improving Sentences 

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

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

Because it lacks water, this makes the area known as Death Valley a desert, but it is by no means devoid of life.

This sentence is awkward and wordy.  The Knowsys handbook advises you to lean towards answer choices that are concise.  Keep this in mind as you look down at your answer choices.

(A) Because it lacks water, this
(B) They lack water, which
(C) Water, the lack of which
(D) Lacking water, it
(E) Lack of water

(A) You do not have to read this choice again because it matches the original sentence.  Eliminate it.  (B) The pronoun “they” has no antecedent in this sentence.  Who is “they?” Eliminate this choice.  (C) This answer creates problems with sentence structure, but it also makes it seem as if the water has life rather than the area, changing the meaning of the sentence.  Eliminate it.  (D) What is the antecedent of “it?”  This is a good example of a random and unassociated “it.”  Eliminate this answer choice.  (E)  This choice makes “lack of water” the subject of the sentence.  It is shorter and clearer than any of the answer choices, and it also eliminates an extra punctuation mark that is present in all of the other choices. 

The correct answer is (E).

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

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

Pronouns

Link of the Day

Sometimes fact can sound like fiction, and produce an extremely interesting current event for your SAT essay.  Scientists have found a way to make a tiny cylinder invisible, creating a lot of excitement about the possible applications of such a feat.   Think about this accomplishment in terms of planning, creativity, imitation, and technology.  How could you relate this article about a current event to past SAT essay prompts?

11/13 Identifying Sentence Errors:  Pronouns

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

Read the entire sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then check each underlined portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  If you find an error, mark it and quickly check the remaining underlined words.

Whether the Sumerians were the first people to develop writing is uncertain, but theirs is the oldest known writing system. No error

(A)   Always check to make sure that a verb matches the subject.  The subject, Sumerians, is plural, so “were” is required instead of “was.”  Then check to make sure that the verb is in the correct tense.  This sentence is about the past, so “were” is required instead of “are.”

(B)  It is idiomatically correct to include the preposition “to” before the word “develop.”

(C)  The word “uncertain” denotes that this statement is not definite, clearly conveying the meaning of the sentence.

(D)  When you see a pronoun, you must check to make sure that it refers to a single antecedent and that it agrees with that antecedent.  You already established that the sentence is about certain people, so the pronoun must be plural, and it must show possession.  Think about the “s” on the end of “theirs” as a shorter way to say “their writing system.”  You don’t want to write out “their writing system” because it will make the last portion of the sentence redundant.

(E)  None of the underlined portions of the sentence has an error, so this is the only remaining answer choice.

The correct answer is (E).


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

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

Pronouns

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.  Check the underlined portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find, and look to see which answer choice fixes the problem.

The modern recreational canoe closely resembles the Native American bark canoe in shape, length, weight, and carrying capacity, differing only in the materials of which they are made.

When there is a pronoun in an underlined portion of the sentence, you must check to make sure that it agrees with its antecedent.  Look at the pronoun “they.”  The word “they” is plural, but is there a plural antecedent for this word?  No.  The antecedent for the pronoun is “modern recreational canoe,” which is singular.  Instead of “they” this sentence requires “it.”  Mark that change, then notice that you now have “it are.”  These two words do not match, so change them to “it is.”  You are ready to look down at your answer choices.

(A) they are made
(B) they make them
(C) they made it
(D) it is made
(E) its making

The correct answer is (D).


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

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

Pronouns

Link of the Day

As you look for current events to include as excellent examples on your SAT essay, you will probably come across quite a few controversial subjects.  There are people in situations around the world who need passionate supporters.  However, don’t let your passion for a subject allow you to become sidetracked during the SAT.  Your SAT essay will be read by two people.  Use other forums to make your opinion about current events known.  On the SAT, the current events that you use must support a broader opinion on the prompt, rather than interject a new argument.  Read this article about the plight of refugees from violence in Syria.  Think about the human themes in this story and how it could easily relate to prompts concerned with point of view, change, motivators, adversity, responsibility, knowledge, information, and feelings.  Choose 5 current events that you will be able to relate to a wide variety of themes, and become an expert on those 5 events.  Even if you only use 1 of the events on the SAT, you will be prepared for any question, and you will be a more informed individual.

10/14 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 through the original sentence, listening for errors.  Then quickly check the underlined portions against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Identify and mark any error you find.  There will only be one error, but be sure to check each part of the sentence to make sure that you are not simply revising a portion that is technically correct.
Although it is not a fast runner, wolves can maintain a loping run for many miles, runningthroughout the night if necessaryNo error

(A)  When the word “although” is used at the beginning of the sentence, it signals that a dependent clause is coming.  This means that there should be a comma after the first portion of the sentence.  This comma is present, so there is no error.

(B)  Right after an introductory phrase or a clause that only uses a pronoun, you should find the subject of the sentence.  “Wolves” is the subject of the sentence, but it does not match the pronoun used in the first portion of the sentence.  The word “it” is singular, while the word “wolves” is plural.  Mark this error by changing the word “wolves” to “a wolf,” and quickly check the remaining answer choices.

(C)  When you see “-ing” on the end of a verb, check to make sure that it makes sense in context.  In this case, it does make sense to use “running” rather than another form because it emphasizes the continuous action of the wolf throughout the night.

(D)  Think of the words “if necessary” as modifying the phrase “running throughout the night.”  You could leave them out, but they give us extra information by letting us know that wolves don’t normally run all night.  Remember, you are not looking for things that you could change; you are looking for specific errors.

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

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 57% 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!

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 sentence, listen for errors.  Evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Once you look down at the answer choices, focus on the first error to eliminate wrong answer choices quickly.

In Costa Rica, coffee, from the highlands, and bananas, produced mainly in the Caribbean lowlands, as the most important crops, they account for nearly half the total value of all exports.

This sentence may be hard to follow because it has a lot of commas, but identify the simple subject.  This sentence is about coffee and bananas.  Once you have the simple subject, look for the verb that matches that subject.  You will not find one.  There are verbs in this sentence, but they are in the wrong format to match the subject.  The verb “account” matches the pronoun “they” instead of matching “coffee and bananas.”  In order to fix this, you must add a plural verb as close to your subject as possible.  The sentence describes what coffee and bananas are (important crops), so change the word “as” to “are.”

You have improved the sentence now, but always remember that there might be more than one error in improving sentence questions.   Read the whole sentence with your change and you will see that you still have a problem with sentence structure.  You have two complete sentences with separate subjects and verbs that are only separated by a comma: a comma splice.  An easy way to fix this would be to make the second independent clause dependant.  All you would have to do is eliminate the unnecessary pronoun “they” and change the word “account” to “accounting.”

(A) as the most important crops, they account
(B) as the most important crops, which account
(C) are the most important crops, accounting
(D) are the most important of their crops by accounting
(E) have been the most important crops, which accounts

Even if you did not immediately spot the changes that should be made to this sentence, you can be strategic in how you eliminate answer choices.  You do not need to read choice (A) because you know it contains the original phrasing.  Furthermore, both choice (A) and (B) begin with “as.”  Instead of getting distracted or confused by the rest of their words that follow “as,” eliminate these choices right away.  You know that they will not fix the first problem that you found in the original sentence: the missing verb.  Look at (C). Remember that the Knowsys method tells you to lean towards answers that are concise.  This is the shortest answer, so check quickly to see whether it makes sense when you place it in the blank.  It does!  Quickly look at (D).  Coffee and bananas did not become important “by” accounting for a lot of the exports, so the logic in this choice is skewed.  (E) adds a lot of words and the word “which” does not make sense in context.

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 71% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Structure

Link of the Day

Hawaii has become one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States, but do you know how this cluster of islands became a state?  President Eisenhower signed a proclamation welcoming Hawaii as the 50th state on August 21, 1959.  This action was not without controversy and intrigue.  Do you know the role that sugar played in the story?  What about the conflicting desires of Queen Liliuokalani and Prince Kuhio of Hawaii?  The difficulties that Hawaii faced on its road to statehood would make a great historical example for your SAT essay.  Read some of the facts here and look at some relevant documents here, but also search for some of the current opinions about this historical event.

8/21 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. 

As you read the original sentence to yourself, listen for errors.  Check the underlined portions of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  If you see an error, mark it, but be sure to quickly check the other choices.

The Sun has been shining for nearly five billion years and is thought that it has sufficient thermonuclear fuel in its core to shine for about another five billion. No error

Look first at (A).  The word “nearly” modifies the “five billion years.” It is as close as possible to the words it modifies and it takes the –ly ending that most adverbs take, so there is no error in this underlined portion.  (B) should sound awkward to you.  Take out the words that are underlined and read the sentence.  “The Sun is thought __________ sufficient fuel.” You would not immediately place the word “it” in this blank because you already know that the subject is the Sun.  The word “it” is an unnecessary pronoun.  The correct phrasing is “to have.” Mark this error, but quickly check the other blanks. (C) is idiomatically correct because it uses the word “to;” you have enough fuel to do something.  (D) is idiomatically correct as well because you do something “for” a certain amount of time.   (E) cannot be correct because you already marked an error.

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 59% of the responses were correct.

For more help 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!

Pronouns

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.

This type of question is an Identifying Sentence Errors question.  Read the sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  If you are unable to find an error during your first reading, check each of the underlined portions and ask yourself whether there is any problem in that particular portion. Remember, some sentences will not have an error.

Japanese literature is noted for distinctive forms of drama as well as their poetryNo error

The Big 8 grammar questions from the Knowsys method will help you ask specific questions in order to identify any errors that might be present.  In portion (A) you encounter the first verb so you must check for subject and verb agreement.  “Japanese literature” is singular, so “is” is correct rather than “are.” “For” is also the correct preposition to use after “noted” in order to convey the meaning that the subject is noted for something specific.  (B) is a modifier.  It is placed directly before the phrase it modifies, “forms of drama,” and it agrees with the phrase it modifies. (C) is an idiomatically correct way to link two examples. (D) includes a pronoun, so you must check whether “their” agrees with its antecedent.  This is where you will run into a problem because there is no stated antecedent for “their.” Eliminate “their” and check to see whether the sentence is still complete and logical.  Not only is the sentence still complete, but also the comparison is much clearer without the unnecessary pronoun. Now that you have identified an error, you know the answer cannot be (E).

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 59% of responses were correct. 


Visit www.myknowsys.com for more help with grammar!

Pronouns

Link of the Day

Did you know that pi has the approximate value of 22/7? That's why some people celebrate Pi Day today (many people also celebrate Pi Day on March 14 - 3/14). Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Because it's an irrational number (one that cannot be expressed as an exact ratio) it is impossible to calculate the exact value of pi. As of October 2011, pi has been calculated to 10 trillion digits (although you really only need to know the value to 3 digits for the SAT). You can read more about pi and Pi Day here.

7/22 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.

When you are working an Improving Sentences question, read the question carefully and focus on the underlined portion. If you identify an error, make a prediction about how you could fix the error. The correct answer won't always match your prediction, but making a prediction will help you to identify the underlying grammar concept being tested.

The largest European type of newt grows to about seven inches, while the largest American type, the California newt, it grows to about six inches. No error

Take your time and read the question carefully until you find something that stands out. (A) doesn't have any error. The adjective is correctly used and clearly modifies one noun. (B) also doesn't have an error. The word "type" is correctly used (also, the word "of" is the correct preposition to use here). (C) is part of a clause and it is idiomatically correct. (D) should stand out to you.  It's awkward because there is an unnecessary pronoun that makes the comparison unclear. Without the pronoun "it", the comparison becomes "The largest European newt grows to about seven inches . . ." while the other "grows to be about six inches". Since you have identified an error, (E) cannot be the correct answer.

The correct Answer Choice is (D).

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

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

Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

Link of the Day

Although most people think of the Mayans as a single unified empire, they were actually organized in a similar manner to the Greeks. While they were united by a common culture and religion, their government consisted of a number of politically sovereign states. The Mayan calendar (there are actually 2, one religious and one solar) is perhaps their most famous achievement. Based on a year that has little more than 365 days, it is far more accurate than the Gregorian calendar. This enabled the Mayans to predict things like Solar eclipses and the Spring and Autumn equinoxes. You can learn more about the Mayans here.

7/10 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 portion that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E.

When you are working on an Identifying Sentence Errors questions, start by reading the question carefully. Focus on anything that stands out or sounds wrong. If you don't spot the error right away, work slowly through each underlined portion. Think about all the grammar rules that you know apply. Once you have identified an error, double check that the rest of the sentence is correct as written.

Today more than two million Mayan Indians live in northern Yucatán and highland Guatemala in a manner similar to those of their ancestors. No error


For the sake of practice, let's assume that you didn't spot the error on the first read through. Now, take your time and examine each blank carefully. (A) is correct as it is, since it doesn't say "more then" or something like that. (B) has the correct verb conjugation and uses the correct preposition. (C) is idiomatically correct. It should be "similar to" not "similar as." (D) however, has the pronoun "those." Whenever you see a pronoun, make sure that you check the pronoun-antecedent agreement. In this case "those" refers to the "manner" that the Mayan ancestors lived in. Since "manner" is singular, the word "those" should actually be the word "that." Because you have identified an error, you know (E) is not the correct answer.

The correct answer choice is (D)

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

Want 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.