SAT Writing : Correcting Pronoun Errors: Inconsistent Usage

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Pronoun Errors: Inconsistent Usage

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.

If one wishes to understand a musical composition fully, we must consider the time period in which it was written.

Possible Answers:

we will have to consider the time period in which it was written.

one must consider the time period in which it was written.

we must consider the time period corresponding to when it was written.

we must consider the time period in which it was written.

we must have considered the time period in which it was written.

Correct answer:

one must consider the time period in which it was written.

Explanation:

The answer choice "one must consider the time period in which it was written" is correct because it contains the word "one," which matches the word "one" used in the first clause of the sentence.

All of the other answer choices are incorrect because they contain the pronoun "we," and therefore lead to pronoun agreement errors.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Pronoun Errors: Inconsistent Usage

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.

If one is to construct a comprehensive model of the global economy, we must first account for alternating periods of expansion and contraction in the business cycle.

Possible Answers:

we must account firstly for

one had first accounted for

one must first account for

one must first account to

we must first account for

Correct answer:

one must first account for

Explanation:

The original text contains a pronoun consistency error. The underlined portion of the sentence contains the pronoun "we," but the sentence uses "one" before that. In order to maintain consistency, the underlined portion should use "one" rather than "we."

The answer choice "one had first accounted for" contains a tense error, even though it correctly uses "one" instead of "we."

The answer choice "one must first account to" is incorrect because the correct idiom is "account for."

Example Question #23 : Other Pronoun 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.

Does one have a responsibility to help others, or do you only have a responsibility to help yourself?

Possible Answers:

Does one have a responsibility to the helping of the others, or does one only have a responsibility to the helping of yourself?

Does one have a responsibility to help others, or does one only have a responsibility to help themselves?

Does one have a responsibility to help others, or do you only have a responsibility to help yourself?

Do ones have a responsibility to help others, or do ones only have a responsibility to help his or herself?

Do you have a responsibility to help others, or do you only have a responsibility to help yourself?

Correct answer:

Do you have a responsibility to help others, or do you only have a responsibility to help yourself?

Explanation:

In the sentence as it is written, "one" and "you" are both used. You should stick to using one of these pronouns or the other, and not switch between them in a sentence.

Example Question #5 : Correcting Pronoun Errors: Inconsistent Usage

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 repeats the underlined portion as it is written.

When you go to a buffet, one should make sure that you do not overeat.

Possible Answers:

be sure of

and make sure

make sure

then make sure

one should make sure

Correct answer:

make sure

Explanation:

The sentence begins by using the pronoun "you," but then switches to using the pronoun "one." These should be kept consistent.

Example Question #1702 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

When one is trying a dangerous sport such as rock-climbing, you should always use the proper safety equipment.

Possible Answers:

one should always use the proper safety equipment.

he or she should always be using the proper safety equipment.

you should always use the proper safety equipment.

they should always use the proper safety equipment.

he should always be using proper safety equipment.

Correct answer:

one should always use the proper safety equipment.

Explanation:

Because “one” is the subject in the relative clause that begins the sentence, “one” must also be the subject of the main independent clause that concludes the sentence. Pronouns and their antecedents must match, and “you,” “they,” and “he” do not match “one.” Also, “use” is more concise than “be using,” which is unnecessarily wordy.

Example Question #1703 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

If a person wants to live fully and reach their potential, he or she must first find a meaningful passion.

Possible Answers:

If a person wants to live fully and reach their potential, he or she must first find a meaningful passion.

If a person wants to live fully and reach its potential, it must first find a meaningful passion.

If a person wants to live fully and reach his potential, he must first find a meaningful passion.

If a person wants to live fully and reach his or her potential, he or she must first find a meaningful passion.

If a person wants to live fully and reach their potential, they must first find a meaningful passion.

Correct answer:

If a person wants to live fully and reach his or her potential, he or she must first find a meaningful passion.

Explanation:

Because the antecedent (“a person”) is singular, “their” and “they” are incorrect pronouns. Because the antecedent doesn’t indicate gender, the male “he” isn’t sufficient and “he or she” must be used. Although “its” and “it” are singular pronouns, they are used to talk about objects and not about people, so they are incorrect.

Example Question #1704 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence. 

If one is to fully reform the nation's educational system, you must first account for the need to provide academic opportunities for students regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds.

Possible Answers:

one must first account for

you must first account for

they must first account for

he must first account for

we must first account for

Correct answer:

one must first account for

Explanation:

The sentence initially uses the pronoun "one," but then switches to "you." These pronouns should be kept consistent. 

Example Question #1705 : 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. One of the underlined choices repeats the answer as it is written. 

In order for one to be prepared for the SATs, you must practice every skill on the test until one is confident in the material. 

Possible Answers:

she must practice every skill 

you must practice every skill

we must practice every skill

he must practice every skill

one must practice every skill

Correct answer:

one must practice every skill

Explanation:

The error in the sentence is in the consistency of pronouns. The sentence begins with "one" and therefore "one" must be used as the pronoun through the remainder of the sentence. 

Example Question #371 : Improving Sentences

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.

If one is planning to argue with Damon about whether cats are better than dogs, you must be prepared to cite many sources to support your argument. 

Possible Answers:

he must be prepared

she must be prepared

one must be prepared

you must be prepared

they must be prepared

Correct answer:

one must be prepared

Explanation:

The error in this sentence stems from the lack of agreement between its pronouns. Since the sentence begins with the pronoun "one," we must change the other pronoun ("you") to "one" in order to make the sentence correct. 

Example Question #372 : Improving Sentences

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all. 

When one prepares for a marathon, it is easy to focus entirely on the exercise regimen and neglect the nutritional aspect that you also need to succeed. No error

Possible Answers:

it is easy

No error

on 

the nutritional aspect

you

Correct answer:

you

Explanation:

Since the pronoun "one" is introduced at the beginning of the sentence, the pronoun at the end of the sentence should also be "one" instead of "you" in order for the sentence to be consistent.

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