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

Neither the rats nor the bats around the house are much fun to have around, but they are the absolute worst.

Possible Answers:

but they are the absolutely worst.

but they are the absolute worst.

and they are the absolute worst.

but they're the absolute worst.

but the bats are the absolute worst.

Correct answer:

but the bats are the absolute worst.

Explanation:

Whenever you have multiple antecedents in a sentence, you must be extremely clear with pronoun usage in order to avoid any ambiguity. In the sentence above, "they" could refer to either "the rats" or "the bats." The best way to correct the underlined portion of the sentence above is: "but the bats are the absolute worst."

Example Question #32 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The apples and the oranges were both rapidly becoming rotten, but they were in worse shape.

Possible Answers:

but they were in worse shape.

but they're in worse shape.

but they were of worse shape.

but they were in worser shape.

but the apples were in worse shape.

Correct answer:

but the apples were in worse shape.

Explanation:

Whenever you have multiple antecedents in a sentence, you must be extremely clear with pronoun usage in order to avoid any ambiguity. In the sentence above, "they" could refer to either "the apples" or "the oranges." The best way to correct the underlined portion of the sentence above is: "but the apples were in worse shape."

Note that a comma with a coordinating conjunction correctly connects these two independent clauses into one compound sentence.

Example Question #33 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Please take the pencil and the notebook off of my desk, then put it in your backpack.

Possible Answers:

Please take the pencil and the notebook off of my desk, then put its in your backpack.

Please take the pencil and the notebook off of my desk, then put the pencil in your backpack.

Please take the pencil and the notebook off of my desk, then put us in your backpack.

Please take the pencil and the notebook off of my desk, then put they in your backpack.

Please take the pencil and the notebook off of my desk, then put it in your backpack.

Correct answer:

Please take the pencil and the notebook off of my desk, then put the pencil in your backpack.

Explanation:

Whenever you have multiple antecedents in a sentence, you must be extremely clear with pronoun usage in order to avoid any ambiguity. In the sentence above, "it" could refer to either "the pencil" or "the notebook." The best way to correct the underlined portion of the sentence above is, "Please take the pencil and the notebook off of my desk, then put the pencil in your backpack."

Example Question #34 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

I love pork chops and I love steaks, but I prefer to eat them whenever I have a choice between the two.

Possible Answers:

I love pork chops and I love steaks, but I prefer to eat them whenever I have a choice between the two.

I love pork chops and I love steaks, but I prefer to eat it whenever I have a choice between the two.

I love pork chops and I love steaks, but I prefer to eat pork chops whenever I have a choice between the two.

I love pork chops and I love steaks, but I prefer to eat those whenever I have a choice between the two.

I love pork chops and I love steaks, but I prefer to eat him whenever I have a choice between the two.

Correct answer:

I love pork chops and I love steaks, but I prefer to eat pork chops whenever I have a choice between the two.

Explanation:

Whenever you have multiple antecedents in a sentence, you must be extremely clear with pronoun usage in order to avoid any ambiguity. In the sentence above, "them" could refer to either "pork chops" or "steaks." The best way to correct the underlined portion of the sentence above is, "I love pork chops and I love steaks, but I prefer to eat pork chops whenever I have a choice between the two."

Example Question #35 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

I love the Beetles and I love the Rolling Stones, but I much prefer their music.

Possible Answers:

I love the Beetles, and I love the Rolling Stones, but I much prefer the Beetles music.

I love the Beetles and I love the Rolling Stones, but I much prefer The Beetles' music.

I love the Beetles and I love the Rolling Stones, but I greatly prefer those music.

I love the Beetles and I love the Rolling Stones, but I greatly prefer their music.

I love the Beetles and I love the Rolling Stones, but I much prefer their music.

Correct answer:

I love the Beetles and I love the Rolling Stones, but I much prefer The Beetles' music.

Explanation:

Whenever you have multiple antecedents in a sentence, you must be extremely clear with pronoun usage in order to avoid any ambiguity. In the sentence above, "their" could refer to either "The Beetles" or "The Rolling Stones." The best way to correct the underlined portion of the sentence above is, "I love the Beetles and I love the Rolling Stones, but I much prefer The Beetles' music."

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