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SAT Grammar: Improving Sentences


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Basic Approach: 4 key points
1. Do not need to reread A
2. 1/5 Sentences will be correct (4-6 out of 25)
3. The NON-underlined portion of the sentence is always correct
4. Do not try to revise the sentence in your head
Two Good Rules to Live By
1. Look for an answer that preserves the meaning
2. Most concise answer choice
Verbs and subjects
Singular with Singular, Plural with Plural
Ignore the extra stuff!
Collective Nouns with Verbs
Collective nouns are singular, need to be paried with singular verbs
Ex: The Philippines
Nouns Joined by Conjunctions
Two singular nouns jioned by "and" make a plural subject
If 2 or more nouns are joined by "or" or "nor", the verb agrees in number with the last element
Pronoun Agreement
When a pronoun is underlined, dertermine which nouns it's replacing and make sure they agree
Singular with Singular, Plural with Plural
EX: Everyone should mind THEIR OWN business.. should be his or her
Singular Pronouns
anybody, everybody, somebody, nobody, anyone, everyone, someone, no one, anything, everything, something, nothing, either, neither, each, much
Plural Pronouns
few, many, both, several
Singular or Plural Pronouns based on Context
all, most, some, none, more, any, less
Noun Agreement
Singular with Singular
Plural with Plural
Misplaced Modifiers
A modifier should be places as closely as possible to the word it modifies
Ex: While watching tv, the phone rang... the phone was watching tv?
Items in a list should be parallel in form
Comparisons: Apples to Oranges
When you spot a comparison in a sentence, make sure the items are parallel: apples to apples, oranges to oranges
Verb Tense
Present Perfect: events that were completed in the past at an unspecified time- have been, has read
Past Perfect: Events that happen in the past before another past event
had played, had thought
Subjunctive Mood
If clauses?
After verbs that express wish?
1. Do NOT use "would" in an "if" clause. Use either the past tense or "were"
Ex: If politicians would tellt he truth, then voters would... should be If politicans told the truth
2. After verbs that express a wish (insist, recommend, demand, require..) use the base form of the verb, which is the infinitve form without the "to"
Ex: I wish I was back in norwalk.. I wish I was..
I insist that you are careful with.. I insist that you be..
Passive Voice?
look for a form of the verb " to be" folowed by the past participle of another verb, then "by" followed by a person/thing
"Being told by my teacher", "were brought by John" and "was found by Eileen"
Active Voice?
Ichiro hit the ball. He hit the ball.... vs. passive The ball was hit by him.
Would you chose Passive or Active?
"If you have a choice, use the active voice." The passive voice is not grammatically incorrect; it's just not as good as the active voice as far as ETS is concerned
Run-on Sentences?
Two independent clauses together without any punctuation or conjunctions
Comma Splice?
Splicing together two independent clauses with a comma. Look for an answer that fixes the error by replacing the comma with a semicolon or a conjunction.
Continue or reverse the direction of the sentence. Sometimes ETS removes them or sometimes it adds a second conjunction which is one conjunction too many.
Excess Nounification?
Verbs are stronger than nouns, so when you have a choice, use a verb. Active verbs make a sentence shorter. Shorter is better!
EX: The university had given us the preparation to succeed in the world.. The university prepared us..
The witness made the claim that.. The witness claimed
Which prevent them from the consumption of... which prevent them from consuming..
Awkward -ing Constructions?
Keep an eye on verbs with -ing endings. They frequently make a sentence awkward and unnecessarily wordy.
People are afraid to take risks because of knowing..
Andrew was often found at the library, being..
My desiring to ..
Einstein was the first scientist having conceived..

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