SAT Writing : Avoiding Ambiguity and Redundancy in a Full Sentence

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store varsity tutors amazon store varsity tutors ibooks store

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy In A Full Sentence

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Ella's younger sister was afraid and scared; it was her first time riding a horse.

Possible Answers:

Ella's younger sister was afraid and scared and terrified; it was her first time riding a horse.

Ella's younger sister was afraid and scared; it was their first time riding a horse.

Ella's younger sister was scared; it was her first time riding a horse.

Ella's younger sister was afraid and scared... it was her first time riding a horse.

Ella's younger sister was afraid and scared; it was her first time riding a horse.

Correct answer:

Ella's younger sister was scared; it was her first time riding a horse.

Explanation:

"Afraid and scared" are too similar in meaning to be used together to describe something in a sentence. The correct answer simply removes one of these two words. The rest of the sentence is correct as written.

Example Question #2 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy In A Full Sentence

1 If you’re wearing clothes right now you’re likely wearing something a sewing machine has produced. 2 But what you may not know is the history of the sewing machine that made your clothes. 3 The device was invented in England during the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th-century. 4 Greatly increasing efficiency by mechanizing the process. 5 Early machines were often used for stitching leather and canvas for various purposes including, horse tack, sails, and shoes. 6 Gradually, other machines emerged that were superior in Europe and America. 7 Famous brands today; include those by 19th century inventor Isaac Singer. 8 As the 1800s progressed sewing machines became purchases for not just clothing manufacturers but individuals. 

How should Sentence 2 be rewritten?

Possible Answers:

But what you may not know – the history of the sewing machine – is what made your clothes.

But what you may not know is the history of the sewing machine; it made your clothes.

But what you may not know: is the history of the sewing machine.

But what you may not know is the history of the sewing machine that made your clothes. (no change)

But what you may not know is the history of that machine.

Correct answer:

But what you may not know is the history of that machine.

Explanation:

While Sentence 2 is already grammatically correct, but it is redundant and can be improved. Here, the most concise choice is the right one, and that choice removes the unnecessary addition of the characterization of sewing machines as having made "your clothes" (it also removes an unnecessary and aesthetically unappealing use of the second person, what if, for instance, I made my own clothes? What if I am wearing a knit sweater? This statement is not accurate, since the writer actually has no idea who made every single reader's clothes).

Example Question #3 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy In A Full Sentence

1 One of America’s most inflammatory early disasters, the Johnstown Flood. 2 It was occurring in 1889 after the collapse of the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. 3 Heavy rainfall invigorated a reservoir upriver, causing the dam to burst and more than 20 million tons of water pouring down the Conemaugh River. 4 The Johnstown Flood has been immortalized in poems, novels, songs, and films. 5 The committal flood killed more than 2,000 people and it required the attention of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton, and various lawsuits. 6 Compounding the disaster was the Stone Bridge, causing a fire that killed at least 80 people when burning debris caught fire. 7 Later people would fault the rich business tycoons who had weakened the reservoir for their own leisure, building cottages and a spillway along the dam to create the swarthy South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club.8 Nearly $4 million would be donated to relief funds, for Pennsylvanians the true horror never preceded.

How should Sentence 6 be rewritten? 

Possible Answers:

Compounding the disaster, the Stone Bridge, causing a fire that killed at least 80 people when burning debris caught fire.

Compounding the disaster, burning debris at the Stone Bridge caused a fire that killed at least 80 people.

Compounding the disaster, the Stone Bridge: causing a fire that killed at least 80 people when burning debris caught fire.

Compounding the disaster was the Stone Bridge, causing a fire that killed at least 80 people when burning debris caught fire. (no change)

Causing a fire that killed at least 80 people, burning debris caught fire; compounding the disaster at the Stone Bridge.

Correct answer:

Compounding the disaster, burning debris at the Stone Bridge caused a fire that killed at least 80 people.

Explanation:

A full rewrite is necessary to make this sentence both grammatically correct and logical. As the original sentence is grammatically incorrect and overly wordy, making "compounding the disaster" into a clear dependent clause, then making "burning debris" the subject successfully stops the modifier from dangling, and makes the meaning clear and the writing concise.

Example Question #4 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy In A Full Sentence

1 Leprosy: used to be a dreaded illness both in biblical times as well as more recently. 2 People endured its disfiguring effects until the invention of antibiotics in the 1950s. 3 Also known as Hansen’s disease, antibiotics will fictitiously cure leprosy today. 4 In the old days there exacted leprosy colonies to quarantine infected people, as the disease was then considered highly contagious. 5 Symptoms include skin lesions, nerve damage, numbness, tissue damage, and, in severe cases, deformation of fingers and toes. 6 Thanks to modern medicine, leprosy no longer needs to be a source of social skirmish. 7 In reality, it is transmitted through fluids, usually in the form of airborne particles.

How should Sentence 3 be rewritten?

Possible Answers:

Also known as Hansen’s disease: antibiotics will fictitiously cure leprosy today.

Also known as Hansen’s disease, the fictitious cure of leprosy today is accomplished by antibiotics.

Also known as Hansen’s disease, leprosy can be fictitiously cured by antibiotics today.

Also known as Hansen’s disease, antibiotics will fictitiously cure leprosy today. (no change)

Also known as Hansen’s disease, leprosy will today be cured fictitiously, and antibiotics will do so.

Correct answer:

Also known as Hansen’s disease, leprosy can be fictitiously cured by antibiotics today.

Explanation:

The original sentence contains a misplaced modifier. It’s not the antibiotics that are also known as Hansen’s disease; it’s the leprosy itself. Change the order of the words in the second clause in order to avoid this error.

Example Question #5 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy In A Full Sentence

Are you trying to stick to a budget? Using coupons for purchases, also known as “couponing” is a great way to save money on groceries. Coupons are a little piece of paper that can give you a discount on what you buy. You will be amazed at the great bargains and amazing savings you can get!

It’s easy to get started. When you open up your daily newspaper, one might find a glossy insert full of coupons. Some of the coupons will be for things you don’t buy, some will be for things you buy all the time. Go through the coupons and chop out the ones you can use.

The key to successful couponing is getting multiple copies of coupon circulars. Ask your friends, your neighbors, and family if they have any extras. Some coupon users even go through the recycling at their office to find more coupons! Have you ever heard of such a thing in your life! Completely devoted, these circulars help coupon users to get even more savings.

Couponing might sound like hard work, but for many people, it’s also a hobby. Not only does it help them save hundreds of dollars per year, but also it gives them a fun challenge every time they do their shopping. 

How should the underlined section be corrected?

Possible Answers:

Completely devoted, these circulars help get even more savings for coupon users.

These circulars help completely devoted coupon users get even more savings.

These circulars, completely devoted, help coupon users get even more savings.

These circulars help coupon users get even more savings, completely devoted.

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

These circulars help completely devoted coupon users get even more savings.

Explanation:

This question asks you to correct a misplaced modifier error. The modifying phrase, "completely devoted," should be placed as close as possible to the phrase it modifies, "coupon users." Otherwise, the misplaced modifier confuses the sentence's meaning, making it sound as though the circulars themselves are devoted.

Example Question #6 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy In A Full Sentence

Are you trying to stick to a budget? Using coupons for purchases, also known as “couponing” is a great way to save money on groceries. Coupons are a little piece of paper that can give you a discount on what you buy. You will be amazed at the great bargains and amazing savings you can get!

It’s easy to get started. When you open up your daily newspaper, one might find a glossy insert full of coupons. Some of the coupons will be for things you don’t buy, some will be for things you buy all the time. Go through the coupons and chop out the ones you can use.

The key to successful couponing is getting multiple copies of coupon circulars. Ask your friends, your neighbors, and family if they have any extras. Some coupon users even go through the recycling at their office to find more coupons! Have you ever heard of such a thing in your life! Completely devoted, these circulars help coupon users to get even more savings.

Couponing might sound like hard work, but for many people, it’s also a hobby. Not only does it help them save hundreds of dollars per year, but also it gives them a fun challenge every time they do their shopping.

How should the underlined section be corrected?

Possible Answers:

When you open up your daily newspaper, one finds a glossy insert full of coupons.

When you open up your daily newspaper, you might find a glossy insert full of coupons.

Upon opening up your daily newspaper, one might find a glossy insert full of coupons

NO CHANGE

When they open up your daily newspaper, they find a glossy insert full of coupons.

Correct answer:

When you open up your daily newspaper, you might find a glossy insert full of coupons.

Explanation:

This question asks you to correct ambiguity caused by a subject shift. The first part of the sentence uses the second-person subject, “you,” but the second part of the sentence switches to the third-person neutral subject, “one.” This reduces the clarity and consistency of the text. To correct this error, replace “one” with “you.”

Example Question #7 : Avoiding Ambiguity And Redundancy In A Full Sentence

There once was a shepherd boy whom sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. He was hot and exhausted fanning himself, rapidly in a feeble attempt to cool himself down. On top of that, he had never been so bored before. To amuse himself, he decided to play a joke. He put his hands around his mouth and yelled in a loud voice, "Wolf! Wolf! A wolf is chasing the sheep!”

They came running. They asked the boy, “What’s going on? Did you yell ‘A wolf is chasing the sheep?’”

The boy laughed. “It was just a joke, everyone.”

The people fumed, but they all returned to their homes.

The next day, the boy bored again decided to amuse himself again. He bellowed, “Wolf! Wolf!” Again, the townspeople came running. Once they arrived and witnessed the laughing boy, they realized they’d been tricked a second time. Nonetheless, they returned home and irritated resolved to never fall for the trick again for third time.

The next day, the boy was watching his sheep. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a wolf appeared from behind the bushes. With its teeth bared, the boy cowered as the wolf approached the sheep. Terrified, he called, “Help! A wolf! A wolf is here!” The people ignored his cries. “That mischievous boy,” they all said to one another. “He must think he can fool us again.” But not one of them came running.

No one was there to witness as the wolf ate every last sheep on the hillside, as the boy helplessly cowered behind a bush. As the boy hid, he shook his head. “I shall never fib again,” he resolved to himself.

How should the underlined section be corrected?

Possible Answers:

They all came running.

NO CHANGE

He or she came running.

The townspeople came running.

They came, running.

Correct answer:

The townspeople came running.

Explanation:

The phrase "they" is ambiguous. The replacement of "they" with "the townspeople" clarifies who the pronoun refers to. "They all" does not fix the problem of ambiguity, "he or she" is illogical in this sentence, and the addition of a comma is unnecessary. "The townspeople came running" is the best answer.

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

Please upgrade or download one of the following browsers to use Instant Tutoring: