SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

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

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Knowsys Method

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

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

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

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

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

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

The correct answer is C.

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