SAT Writing : Correcting Pronoun Errors: Ambiguity

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Pronoun Errors: Ambiguity

The old man was extremely reclusive, never allowing them to see him.

Possible Answers:

never allowed them to see him.

never allowing them to see him.

never allowing people to see him.

never allowing them to be seeing him.

not allowing them to see him.

Correct answer:

never allowing people to see him.

Explanation:

The use of the pronoun "them" in this sentence is confusing, as it is unclear who "them" is referring. "Them" needs to be changed to something more concrete. Only one answer choice, "never allowing people to see him," does this, which makes it the correct answer choice.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Pronoun Errors: Ambiguity

John and Michael both made good points, but in the end, I had to side with him.

Possible Answers:

John and Michael both made good points, but in the end, the one with whom I had to side.

John and Michael both made good points, but in the end, I had to side with John.

(No changes to original.)

John and Michael both made good points, but in the end, the one I had to side with.

John and Michael both made good points, but in the end, I had to side with he.

Correct answer:

John and Michael both made good points, but in the end, I had to side with John.

Explanation:

It is unclear if the “him” refers to John or Michael. The correct answer makes it clear with whom I side.

Example Question #1981 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

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.

He always tried to send a copy of each newsletter to him for his records before he sent it to the rest of his colleagues.

Possible Answers:

He always tried to send a copy of each newsletter to him for his records before sending it to the rest of his colleagues.

He always tried to send a copy of each newsletter to himself for his records before he sent it to the rest of his colleagues.

He always tried to send a copy of each newsletter to him for his records, before he sent it to his rest of the colleagues.

He always tried to send a copy of each newsletter to him for his records before he sent it to the rest of his colleagues.

He always tried to send a copy of each newsletter with him for his records before he sent it to the rest of his colleagues.

Correct answer:

He always tried to send a copy of each newsletter to himself for his records before he sent it to the rest of his colleagues.

Explanation:

The use of the simple objective pronoun "him" in the sentence is odd and confusing, as it is unclear who exactly that usage is referring to. The pronoun should be changed to the reflexive pronoun, "himself." Therefore, the correct answer choice is "He always tried to send a copy of each newsletter to himself for his records before he sent it to the rest of his colleagues."

Example Question #1602 : Sat Writing

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.

Under the influence of the guru, the man began to improve him.

Possible Answers:

began to be improved by him.

began to make improvements for him.

began making improvements to him.

began to improve himself.

began to improve him.

Correct answer:

began to improve himself.

Explanation:

The use of "him" as the object of the sentence is extremely confusing, as it could refer to the subject or the "guru." To clarify this issue, the reflexive pronoun can be used to refer back to the subject of the sentence. The answer choice that appropriately uses the reflexive pronoun is "began to make improvements in himself."

Example Question #1982 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

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.

He was always generous to others, to the point of ignoring him.

Possible Answers:

to the point of ignoring him.

to the point of ignoring himself.

to a point of ignoring him.

to the point of ignore of him.

to the point to ignore him.

Correct answer:

to the point of ignoring himself.

Explanation:

The use of "him" at the end of the sentence is confusing. With the subject of the sentence being the third person pronoun, the object can be the reflexive pronoun and refer back to the subject. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "to the point of ignoring himself."

Example Question #1983 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

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.

The commanding officer frequently made poor decisions, which caught up with the entire unit and him.

Possible Answers:

which caught up with the entire unit and himself.

which had caught up with the entire unit and him.

which caught up with an entire unit and him.

which caught up to the entire unit and him.

which caught up with the entire unit and him.

Correct answer:

which caught up with the entire unit and himself.

Explanation:

The use of "him" in the underlined portion of the sentence is confusing, and needs to more clearly refer to a specific individual. The use of the reflexive pronoun can make it clear that the pronoun refers to the "commanding officer." The only answer choice that uses the reflexive pronoun is "which caught up with the entire unit and himself."

Example Question #731 : Word Usage Errors

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.

The boss always makes sure that there is enough left over so he can pay him.

Possible Answers:

enough left over so he can pay himself.

enough left over so himself can pay him.

enough left over so he can paying him.

enough left over that he can pay him.

enough left over so he can pay him.

Correct answer:

enough left over so he can pay himself.

Explanation:

The use of "him" as the object of the dependent clause in the sentence is confusing, as it is unclear if it refers to the subject of the sentence or to someone else. This confusion can be cleared up by using the reflexive pronoun that can refer back to the subject, "himself." Therefore, the correct answer choice is "enough left over so he can pay himself."

Example Question #732 : Word Usage Errors

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.

He made sure to always make an extra copy of every article for him, to keep in his personal files.

Possible Answers:

an extra copy of every article from him

an extra copy of every article to him

an extra copy of every article for himself

an extra copy for every article for him

an extra copy of every article for him

Correct answer:

an extra copy of every article for himself

Explanation:

The use of "him" as the object of the sentence is confusing, as it is unclear who exactly is being referred to. As the only person mentioned in the sentence is the subject, the final pronoun needs to be the reflexive pronoun, so that it can refer back to the subject. Therefore, the correct answer choice is the only one that uses a reflexive pronoun, "an extra copy of every article for himself."

Example Question #3 : Correcting Word Usage Errors

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.

The employee always added three extra steps to each of his individual projects, making everything more difficult for him.

Possible Answers:

making everything more difficult for himself.

making everything more difficulty for him.

making everything more difficult for him.

make everything more difficult for him.

making everything most difficult for him.

Correct answer:

making everything more difficult for himself.

Explanation:

The use of the simple pronoun "him" at the end of this sentence is confusing, as it is unclear whether this refers to the subject of the sentence or to some other person. This confusion can be cleared up by making the pronoun the reflexive pronoun "himself," which refers back to the subject of the sentence. As the only answer choice to properly use the reflexive pronoun "himself," the correct answer choice is "making everything more difficult for himself."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Pronoun Errors: Ambiguity

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.

He always made sure to do the entire process alone, as he was only confident about the abilities of him.

Possible Answers:

only confidence about the abilities of him.

only confident about the abilities of him.

 only confident about the abilities of himself.

only confident about the ability's of him.

only confident about his own abilities.

Correct answer:

only confident about his own abilities.

Explanation:

The use of "him" at the end of this sentence is confusing and strange, as it does not properly refer back to the subject of the sentence. One might normally replace "him" with "himself," but another option, introducing "his own" as a modifier of abilities, creates a shorter and clearer sentence, so "only confident about his own abilities" is the correct answer.

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