SAT Writing : Correcting Conjunction Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The last time it snowed, that was in February, my dad lost control of his car and hit a tree.

Possible Answers:

snows, that was in February,

was snowing, that was in February,

snowed, February was the month,

snowed, which was in February,

snowed, it was in February,

Correct answer:

snowed, which was in February,

Explanation:

This is a case in which we need to decide whether to use the word "which" or "that" to introduce the clause set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. "That" is used to introduce information absolutely necessary to the sentence's meaning, whereas "which" is used to introduce information that would not change the sentence's meaning if it were removed from the sentence. Information that is not crucial to the sentence's meaning is usually set apart by commas.

In this case, the sentence "The last time it snowed, my dad lost control of his car and hit a tree" still makes sense, so we know that the information included between the commas isn't absolutely necessary to the sentence's meaning. Plus, the information in question is being set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. So, we should use "which," and not "that."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Other Conjunction 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 weather forecast predicted snow for today, and it is raining.

Possible Answers:

predicted it to be snowing today, and it is

predicted snow for today, and it is

predicted snow for today, but it is

predicted snow around today, and it is 

predicted snow, for today and it is

Correct answer:

predicted snow for today, but it is

Explanation:

Because the second independent clause contradicts the first in this compound sentence it is more correct to separate the two with the conjunction "but," not "and."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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. One of the answer choices repeats the underlined portion as it is written.

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, but polar bears, iguanas, and toucans.

Possible Answers:

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, and polar bears, iguanas, and toucans.

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, although polar bears, iguanas, and toucans too.

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, also polar bears, iguanas, and toucans.

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, but also polar bears, iguanas, and toucans.

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, but polar bears, iguanas, and toucans.

Correct answer:

When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, but also polar bears, iguanas, and toucans.

Explanation:

In standard English, when you use the phrase "not only" in a sentence, it should be followed by the phrase "but also." So, the correct answer is "When she went to the zoo, Lyndsey got to see not only tigers, but also polar bears, iguanas, and toucans."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Correlative Conjunction 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The remake of the film was neither enjoyable and definitely not faithful to the original film.

Possible Answers:

nor were it faithful to the original film

and definitely not faithful to the original film

nor faithful to the original film

nor was it faithful to the original film

and it wasn't even faithful to the original film

Correct answer:

nor faithful to the original film

Explanation:

When "neither" is used in a sentence, "nor" should follow it, creating the structure "neither X nor Y," where X and Y are items formatted in the same manner. To correct the sentence, we need to change "and definitely not" to "nor." Several answer choices do this: "nor faithful to the original film," "nor were it faithful to the original film," and "nor was it faithful to the original film." "Nor were it faithful to the original film" and "nor was it faithful to the original film" might each look like potentially correct answers, but each introduces a verb that disrupts the parallel structure of "neither X nor Y," in which "nor" should be immediately followed by "faithful to the original film." The correct answer is thus "nor faithful to the original film," making the corrected sentence, "The remake of the film was neither enjoyable nor faithful to the original film."

Example Question #12 : Correlative Conjunction 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

After Jonas graduates from high school, his father hopes that Jonas will either attend college nor join the army to learn a skill.

Possible Answers:

Jonas will neither attend college or join the army to learn a skill

Jonas will either attend college nor join the army to learn a skill

Jonas will either attend college and join the army to learn a skill

Jonas will either attend college or join the army to learn a skill

Jonas will either attend college or joining the army to learn a skill

Correct answer:

Jonas will either attend college or join the army to learn a skill

Explanation:

Correlative conjunctions are used in specific pairs: "either" must be paired with "or" and "neither" must be paired with "nor" when you want to use them as correlative conjunctions. When using these correlative conjunctions, it is also important to remember to use parallel phrasing with each element that is being associated through the use of the conjunction.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The teacher reprimanded his class, saying that he was neither pleased with their poor work nor was he willing to accept their rowdy behavior.

Possible Answers:

saying that neither was he pleased with their poor work nor was willing to accept their rowdy behavior.

saying that he was neither pleased with their poor work or willing to accept their rowdy behavior.

saying that he was neither pleased with their poor work nor was he willing to accept their rowdy behavior.

saying that he was neither pleased with their poor work nor willing to accept their rowdy behavior.

saying that he was pleased neither with their poor work nor willing to accept their rowdy behavior.

Correct answer:

saying that he was neither pleased with their poor work nor willing to accept their rowdy behavior.

Explanation:

The correlative conjunctions “neither” and “nor” belong together. In "neither . . . nor" sentences, the two options (“pleased with their poor work” and “willing to accept their rowdy behavior”) must be presented in a grammatically parallel way so that the words following “neither” and the words following “nor” are parallel phrases.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Conjunction 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

She told her children that she would take them to either the toy store or to the ice cream parlor if they finished all their chores on time.

Possible Answers:

she would either take them to the toy store or to the ice cream parlor

she would take them to either the toy store and the ice cream parlor

she would take them to either the toy store or to the ice cream parlor

she would either take them to the toy store or the ice cream parlor

she would take them either to the toy store or to the ice cream parlor

Correct answer:

she would take them either to the toy store or to the ice cream parlor

Explanation:

The correlative conjunctions “either” and “or” get paired together here. In "either . . . or" sentences, the two options being discussed (in this case, going to the toy store and going to the ice cream parlor) must be presented in a grammatically parallel way so that the words following “either” and the words following “or” are parallel phrases. In this case, “to the toy store” and “to the ice cream parlor” are the only options that are parallel; otherwise, you’re comparing apples and oranges.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Billy and Sarah had a huge fight the other day; Billy wants neither to apologize or to take full responsibility for what he said.

Possible Answers:

nor

or

then

for

and

Correct answer:

nor

Explanation:

Whenever you use the word "neither," the proper conjunction to follow it with is "nor." Therefore, here, you need to use "nor" rather than any of the other choices.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

John not only desired loyalty from his men, but demanded their courage.

Possible Answers:

John not only desired loyalty from his men, also demanded their courage.

John not only desired loyalty from his men, only demanded their courage.

John not only desired loyalty from his men, but demanded their courage.

John only desired loyalty from his men, but demanded their courage.

John not only desired loyalty from his men, but also demanded their courage.

Correct answer:

John not only desired loyalty from his men, but also demanded their courage.

Explanation:

"Not only", when used at the beginning of a sentence, must be followed with the correlative conjunction "but also." Therefore, "John not only desired loyalty from his men, but also demanded their courage" is the best way to write the underlined portion of the sentence.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The fight against the British in the 1770s was likely more significant to American history than the Civil War and World War II. 

Possible Answers:

than both the Civil War or World War II.

than either the Civil War nor World War II.

than either Civil War and World War II were. 

than both the Civil War and World War II.

than both the Civil War plus World War II. 

Correct answer:

than both the Civil War and World War II.

Explanation:

"than both the Civil War plus World War II" - This option contains a major error, in that it connects the Civil War and World War II with an improper conjunction "plus." "Plus" should only be used to discuss mathematical relationships, it is not a suitable replacement for the word "and" (which is the correct correlative conjunction for "both").

"than either the Civil War nor World War II." - This option uses the incorrect correlative conjunction of "nor" with "either." The correct correlative conjunction for "either" is "or."

"than either Civil War and World War II were." - This option again uses an incorrect correlative conjunction, incorrectly pairing "either" with "and." Also, the repetition of the verb "were" is unnecessary.

"than both the Civil War or World War II." - This option uses the incorrect correlative conjunction pairing of "both" with "or."

"than both the Civil War and World War II." - This option is correct, and features no error. It is the only option to feature a correct correlative conjunction pairing.

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