New SAT Writing and Language : Modifiers

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for New SAT Writing and Language

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Example Questions

Example Question #351 : New Sat

The Sagrada Familia has stood, incomplete, as part of the Barcelona skyline since the early phases of its construction in 1882. The project, originally intended to be a cathedral in the gothic style, was begun by the bookseller Joseph Maria Bocabella under the direction of the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. Del Villar and Bocabella imagined a basilica modeled on the Gothic revival churches Bocabella had seen on trips to Italy. However, Bocabella’s ideal basilica never came to be. In 1883 del Villar resigned from the project, and 30-year old Antoni Gaudi, 1 he was a young but already well-known architect from Catalonia, took over as lead architect.

Possible Answers:

Gaudi was

DELETE the underlined portion.

his being

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

DELETE the underlined portion.

Explanation:

Whenever you are asked to join two thoughts with a comma, you should make sure that the sentence that is created is both not a run-on and a complete sentence. In this case, your hint should be the second comma after "Catalonia" later in the sentence. The portion directly after the first comma is meant to be a piece of additional information bracketed within commas. It therefore shouldn't have a verb, since having a verb would create a run-on sentence. That should allow you to eliminate all choices except for "DELETE the underlined portion."

Example Question #1 : Modifiers

The Sagrada Familia has stood, incomplete, as part of the Barcelona skyline since the early phases of its construction in 1882. The project, originally intended to be a cathedral in the gothic style, was begun by the bookseller Joseph Maria Bocabella under the direction of the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. Del Villar and Bocabella imagined a basilica modeled on the Gothic revival churches Bocabella had seen on trips to Italy. However, Bocabella’s ideal basilica never came to be. In 1883 del Villar resigned from the project, and 30-year old Antoni Gaudi, a young but already well known architect from Catalonia, took over as lead architect.

Gaudi decided to depart from del Villar’s original Gothic design in favor of a more modern design. The new design was 1 ambitious, and featuring eighteen tall spires and four different facades on different sides of the basilica. But work on the new building was slow. Decades passed, and the work was still incomplete. In 1915, Gaudi - now 63 years old - abandoned all other work in favor of dedicating himself to the completion of the monumental church, but progress on the building was still slow. When pressured to speed up work on the monumental building, Gaudi was said to have replied, “My client is not in a hurry.”  By the time Gaudi died in 1926, the basilica was only somewhere between 15 and 20 percent complete.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

ambitious; featuring

ambitious, it featured

ambitious, featuring

Correct answer:

ambitious, featuring

Explanation:

This sentence presents you with two major decision points: between the comma and semicolon and between "and featuring" and "featuring". Check the difference between the comma and semicolon first. Remember that a comma cannot be used to link two complete sentences without a conjunction and that a semicolon can only be used to link two complete sentences. "ambitious; featuring"  can be eliminated since what follows the semicolon is not a complete sentence, and "ambitious, it featured" can be eliminated because there is a complete sentence on either side of the comma without a conjunction. Since the sentence is not a list and what follows after the comma isn't a complete sentence, "and featuring" does not make sense. "ambitious, featuring" turns the second part of the sentence into an appositive, allowing you to use the comma.

Example Question #11 : Grammar: Modifiers And Sentence Construction

Astronomers of the late twentieth century discovered several distant, planet-like objects orbiting the sun, which has led to heated debates over which of these objects are deserving of the classification “planet.”​

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

leading to heated debates over which of these objects deserve​

which is now leading to heated debates over which of these objects deserve​

which has led to heated debates over which of these objects deserve

Correct answer:

leading to heated debates over which of these objects deserve​

Explanation:

In this example, we are presented with several modifiers across our answer options. The relative clause introduced by “which” must refer to the noun or noun phrase that comes before the comma. Since it is illogical to say that the sun has lead to heated debates, we can eliminate all answers that lead with the relative clause “, which.” This leaves us with only our correct answer: “leading to heated debates over which of these objects deserve​.” Since this option replaces the relative clause “, which” with a participial phrase beginning with “leading,” we are now able to modify the subject or subject containing clause. In this case, this construction is necessary to modify the fact that astronomers discovered the objects, the logical meaning of this sentence.

Example Question #122 : New Sat Writing And Language

As children, we used to sit in the meadow behind the corner store on top of an old well and eat penny candy and homemade caramels.

Possible Answers:

behind the corner store in the meadow on top of an old well

in the meadow on top of an old well behind the corner store

on top of an old well in the meadow behind the corner store​

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

on top of an old well in the meadow behind the corner store​

Explanation:

In this example, we need to identify the order of modifying phrases that correctly expresses a logical meaning. Here, each of our modifiers should be as close as possible to what they’re trying to modify. The logical meaning, in this case, expresses that we used to sit “on top of an old well,” that the old well is described as “in a meadow,” and that the meadow is “behind the corner store. Thus, “on top of an old well in the meadow behind the corner store​” is the correct and logical answer. All other answer choices seem to incorrectly (and illogically) modify either the meadow or the corner store as “on top of an old well.”

Example Question #361 : New Sat

Alarmed by the recent decline of the stock market, many retirement investments have been switched from stocks to more conservative options, such as money market funds.

Possible Answers:

many retirement investments were switched from stocks

many retirement investors have switched their stocks

NO CHANGE

many retirement investors have been switched from stocks

Correct answer:

many retirement investors have switched their stocks

Explanation:

In this example, we need the introductory, participial modifier “alarmed by the recent decline of the stock market” to logically modify something that has the potential to be “alarmed.” In the original construction, “alarmed by the recent decline of the stock market” seems to modify “many retirement investments.” This is an illogical construction, as investments don’t have the capacity to be alarmed. With this in mind, we can eliminate answers beginning with “many retirement investments” and consider only those that begin “many retirement investors.” From here, we can eliminate the option “many retirement investors have been switched from stocks,” as the investors are not being switched, they are switching stocks. So, we’re left with “many retirement investors have switched their stocks,” the only logical construction out of our options.

Example Question #362 : New Sat

Published since 1851, the founders of the New York Times were George Jones, who had no previous journalism experience, and Henry Jarvis Raymond.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

the founders of the New York Times was

the New York Times was founded by

The New York Times’ founders were

Correct answer:

the New York Times was founded by

Explanation:

In this example, we’re being tested on the use of the participial modifier “published since 1851.” What follows the comma for this introductory modifier should be what the sentence is attempting to describe as “published since 1851.” Since the logical meaning of the sentence should suggest that “the New York Times” was “published since 1851,” not “the founders,” we can eliminate all wrong answers, and we’re left with “the New York Times was founded by,” our correct answer.

Example Question #363 : New Sat

A severe snowstorm struck the town yesterday, which forced the city council to cancel the annual parade.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

which had the effect of forcing

which has forced

forcing

Correct answer:

forcing

Explanation:

In this example, we’re being tested on the modifier type introduced by the underlined portion of the sentence. In the original construction, and in all answer options that begin with “which,” we introduce a relative clause that must logically refer back to the noun or noun phrase directly before. Since “yesterday” did not force the city council to cancel the parade, we can eliminate any option that utilizes the relative modifier “which.” This leaves us with the correct answer, “forcing.” since participial (-ing) modifiers at the end of a sentence can refer back to the subject or subject-containing clause, in this case, “a severe snowstorm.”

Example Question #4 : Modifiers

Performing in front of a crowd for the first time, the audibility of Mike’s voice was difficult over the screeching din of loudspeaker feedback.

Possible Answers:

Mike’s voice was barely audible

NO CHANGE

Mike had difficulty making his voice audible

Mike’s voice barely audible

Correct answer:

Mike had difficulty making his voice audible

Explanation:

In this example, we’re being tested on the use of the introductory participial modifier “performing in front of a crowd for the first time.” To logically complete the sentence, what follows the comma must be something that can be described as “performing in front of a crowd for the first time.” In the original construction, the sentence attempts to modify “the audibility,” making the introductory modifier illogical. In our other incorrect answers, the sentence illogically modifies “Mike’s voice” as “performing in front of a crowd for the first time. This is also an illogical and thus incorrect construction. Our correct answer, “Mike had difficulty making his voice audible,” correctly modifies “Mike” as “performing in front of a crowd for the first time."

Example Question #12 : Grammar: Modifiers And Sentence Construction

With a safe habitat in which to repopulate and thrive, the peregrine falcon has had the ability to recover from endangered status.

Possible Answers:

the endangered status of the peregrine falcon has recovered.

the ability of the peregrine falcon to recover from endangered status has happened.

NO CHANGE

The peregrine falcon have had the ability to recover from endangered status.

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

In this example, we’re being tested on the use of the introductory modifier “with a safe habitat in which to repopulate and thrive.” This modifier must be followed by what the sentence is logically trying to modify. The original construction, “the peregrine falcon has had the ability to recover from endangered status” logically modifies the peregrine falcon as “with a safe habitat in which to repopulate and thrive,” and also maintains subject-verb agreement. All other answer options either illogically modify “the endangered status” or “the ability” as “with a safe habitat in which to repopulate and thrive,” or incorrectly pair the subject “the peregrine falcon” with the plural verb phrase “have had.”

Example Question #125 : New Sat Writing And Language

Astronomers of the late twentieth century discovered several distant, planet-like objects orbiting the sun, which has led to heated debates over which of these objects deserve the classification “planet.”

Possible Answers:

which is leading to

which is now leading to

NO CHANGE

leading to

Correct answer:

leading to

Explanation:

In this example, we’re being testing on the application of different types of modifiers. In the existing structure, the relative clause modifier, “which has led to heated debates” must refer back to the noun or noun phrase that comes before the comma. Since the sentence could not logically be referring to “the sun” with this modifier, any construction with “which” is incorrect. The correct answer replaces the relative clause with the participial modifier “leading to,” which can refer back to the subject or subject-containing clause, the desired structure in this case.

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