SAT Writing : Correcting Modifier Placement Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Correcting Modifier Placement 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.

Relieved that the election was finally over, the governor's celebratory dinner was incredibly lavish.

Possible Answers:

Relieved that the election was finally over, the governor's celebratory dinner was incredibly lavish.

Relieved that the election was finally over, the governor held an incredibly lavish celebratory dinner.

Relieved that the election was over; the governor's celebratory dinner was incredibly lavish.

Relieved and celebratory that the election was over, the governor's dinner was incredibly lavish.

Relieved that the election was over, he the governor's celebratory dinner was lavish.

Correct answer:

Relieved that the election was finally over, the governor held an incredibly lavish celebratory dinner.

Explanation:

"Relieved that the election was finally over, the governor's celebratory dinner was incredibly lavish." - This option is incorrect due to a dangling modifier. The first clause, "relieved that the election was finally over," refers to "the governor," therefore "the governor" must be the subject of the second clause, rather than the celebratory dinner (which, since it is not, to our knowledge, sentient cannot feel relief, nor even the stress that would precede such relief). 

"Relieved and celebratory that the election was over, the governor's dinner was incredibly lavish. " - This option includes creates the same dangling modifier as did the previous option, alters the meaning of the sentence, and incorrectly uses "celebratory" as an adjective describing a mood (it would be correct to say "feeling celebratory").

"Relieved that the election was over; the governor's celebratory dinner was incredibly lavish." - This option keeps the same dangling modifier error, while adding a semicolon error. The first clause of this sentence is a dependent clause and therefore cannot be separated from the main clause with a semicolon.

"Relieved that the election was over, he the governor's celebratory dinner was lavish." - While still repeating the dangling modifier error, this opiton also unnecessarily, and confusingly adds the pronoun "he" to the main clause, even thought "the governor" is a clear and obvious label for the subject.

The correct version of this sentence reads: "Relieved that the election was finally over, the governor held an incredibly lavish celebratory dinner." - Making the governor the subject of the main clause is the best way to fix this dangling modifier.

Example Question #12 : Correcting Modifier Placement 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.

Traveling by plane, the roads and highways we saw looked like thin, winding cords.

Possible Answers:

we saw roads and highways that looked like thin, winding cords.

we saw, like thin winding cords, the roads and highways.

the roads and highways looked like thin, winding cords, we saw.

the roads and highways we saw looked like thin, winding cords.

the roads and highways we saw, looked like thin, winding cords.

Correct answer:

we saw roads and highways that looked like thin, winding cords.

Explanation:

The example sentence includes a dangling modifier. The introductory phrase "Traveling by plane," must be immediately followed by the subject that was, in fact, traveling by plane. Only two of the provided options correct this dangling modifier error. Of those two it is more concise, and clear, to say "we saw roads and highways that looked like thin, winding chords," rather than "we saw, like thin winding cords, the roads and highways."

Example Question #13 : Correcting Modifier Placement 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 Bohr model states that electrons travel in fixed paths around the nucleus, unlike the modern model of the atom. 

Possible Answers:

The modern model of the atom is unlike the Bohr model which states that electrons travel in fixed paths around the nucleus. 

Electrons travel in fixed paths around the nucleus, the Bohr model says, unlike the modern model of the atom.

Unlike the modern model of the atom, the Bohr model states that electrons travel in fixed paths around the nucleus. 

The Bohr model states that electrons travel in fixed paths around the nucleus, unlike the modern model of the atom.

The Bohr model states that unlike the modern model of the atom, electrons travel in fixed paths around the nucleus. 

Correct answer:

Unlike the modern model of the atom, the Bohr model states that electrons travel in fixed paths around the nucleus. 

Explanation:

In this sentence, the section that modifies the subject—“unlike the modern model of the atom”—must proceed the main clause, rather than succeed it. "Unlike the modern model of the atom, the Bohr model states that electrons travel in fixed paths around the nucleus," fixes the problem.

 

Example Question #14 : Correcting Modifier Placement 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 he returned from the long walk, the chair on the porch was settled into.

Possible Answers:

on the porch the chair was settled into.

the man settled into the chair on the porch.

on the porch, the chair was settled into.

the chair on the porch was settled into.

the chair on the porch was settled unto.

Correct answer:

the man settled into the chair on the porch.

Explanation:

In the sentence above, as it is written, it is not clear what the modifying phrase "After he returned from the long walk" is referring to. A chair cannot walk. In order to avoid a dangling modifier, a subject which can be appropriately modified by such a phrase must be included. The best way to change the underlined portion of the sentence above is: "the man settled into the chair on the porch."

Example Question #15 : Correcting Modifier Placement 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.

Young people who don't listen to their elders always wind up in trouble.

Possible Answers:

Young people who don't always listen to their elders wind up in trouble.

Young people who don't listen to their elders often wind up in trouble.

Young people who don't listen to their elders always wind up in trouble.

Young people who don't listen to their always elders wind up in trouble.

Young people who don't always listen to their Elders wind up in trouble.

Correct answer:

Young people who don't always listen to their elders wind up in trouble.

Explanation:

The sentence above contains an example of a squinting modifier. It is not clear if the word "always" is meant to modify how often the young people listen to their elders, or how often they end up in trouble. This error must be corrected by changing the position of the modifier. The best way to correct the underlined portion of the sentence above is: "Young people who don't always listen to their elders wind up in trouble."

Example Question #16 : Correcting Modifier Placement 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.

Thrilled that the storm had finally broken, the campers' boots marched gleefully along the trail.

Possible Answers:

the campers marched gleefully along the trail.

the campers' boots marched gleefully along the trail!

the campers' marched gleefully along the trail.

the campers' boot's marched gleefully along the trail.

the campers' boots marched gleefully along the trail.

Correct answer:

the campers marched gleefully along the trail.

Explanation:

In the example sentence, it is not clear what the modifying phrase "Thrilled that the storm had finally broken" is referring to. Boots cannot be thrilled. In order to avoid a dangling modifier, a subject that can be appropriately modified by such a phrase must be included. The best way to change the underlined portion of the sentence above is: "the campers marched gleefully along the trail."

Example Question #17 : Correcting Modifier Placement 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.

Elderly people who don't keep track of their health vigilantly die from simple health complications.

Possible Answers:

Elderly people who don't vigilantly keep track of their health die from simple health complications.

Elderly people whom don't keep track of their health vigilantly die from simple health complications.

Elderly people who don't keep track of their health die from simple health complications vigilantly.

Elderly people who don't keep track of their health vigiliant die from simple health complications.

Elderly people who don't keep track of their health vigilantly die from simple health complications.

Correct answer:

Elderly people who don't vigilantly keep track of their health die from simple health complications.

Explanation:

The sentence above contains an example of a squinting modifier. It is not clear if the word "vigilantly" is meant to modify how the old folks keep track of their health, or how they die from simple health complications. This error must be corrected by changing the position of the modifier. The best way to correct the underlined portion of the sentence above is: "Elderly people who don't vigilantly keep track of their health die from simple health complications."

Example Question #334 : 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.

Coming back to the farm, the gruesome scene was seen by everyone in the car.

Possible Answers:

the gruesome scene was seen by everyone in the car.

the gruesome scene saw by everyone in the car.

the gruesome scene was seen by everyone at the car.

the gruesome scene being seen by everyone in the car.

everyone in the car saw the gruesome scene.

Correct answer:

everyone in the car saw the gruesome scene.

Explanation:

The sentence is written with a dangling modifier, which makes the sentence read as though the "gruesome scene" was what was "coming back to the farm." The sentence needs to be restructured to clarify this problem. The only answer choice that does this is "everyone in the car saw the gruesome scene."

Example Question #335 : 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.

Waiting for the crucial trial to begin, the anxiety Neil felt was almost overwhelming.

Possible Answers:

the anxiety Neil felt was almost overwhelming.

the anxiety being felt by Neil was almost overwhelming.

Neil's anxiety felt almost overwhelming.

Neil felt almost overwhelmed with anxiety.

the anxiety almost overwhelmed Neil.

Correct answer:

Neil felt almost overwhelmed with anxiety.

Explanation:

When a sentence begins with a dangling participle or descriptive phrase, the person or thing described in that phrase (in this case, "Neil") must immediately follow it. Only one answer choice does this correctly. The answer choice that begins "Neil's anxiety" may appear to do so, but it does not, because the possessive "Neil's" is no longer the subject, but is describing the anxiety.

Example Question #336 : 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.

Coming around the corner, the skyscrapers came clearly into view across the river.

Possible Answers:

Comes around the corner, the skyscrapers came clearly into view across the river.

Coming around the corner, the skyscrapers came clearly into view across the river.

Coming around the corner, the skyscrapers come clearly into view across the river.

Coming around the corner, the people got a view of the skyscrapers across the river.

Coming around the corner, the skyscrapers are viewed clearly across the river.

Correct answer:

Coming around the corner, the people got a view of the skyscrapers across the river.

Explanation:

The sentence as written contains a dangling modifier, as the construction of the sentence implies the skyscrapers are what is "coming around the corner." The word order can be changed to make this much more clear. The correct answer is "Coming around the corner, the people got a view of the skyscrapers across the river." 

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