SAT Writing : Correcting Single-Word Grammatical Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #233 : Rewriting A Single Word

1 Dream interpretation has a long and storied past. 2 Did you know that the ancient Egyptians were interpreting dreams thousands of years ago? 3 In ancient Greece, prophecies were often based off dreams; and in English literature including Shakespeare dreams have long held a significant role.

4 Common dream symbols include new rooms, which indicate new discoveries about the self, hair, which is purportedly related to sexuality, and forests, which alternately signal loss or variegated opportunities. 5 Books with titles ranging from The Lofty Principles of Dream Interpretation and Dream Alchemy offer advice, and opinions.6 More recently, psychologists have contributed their own analysis to the collaboration of interpretative literature. 7 What did you think your dreams mean?

What word should be changed in Sentence 7?

Possible Answers:

No word should be changed

What

your

did

mean

Correct answer:

did

Explanation:

Most of the passage (everything except the historical summary) is in the present tense, so “did” should be changed to “do.”

Example Question #841 : Improving Paragraphs

1 The job of the cryptozoologist is a taciturn one for sure. 2 Being unlike ordinary zoologists, that study the behaviors and lives of a cathartic variety of animals, cryptozoologists track down mythical animals whose existence has never or rarely been proven.

3 There is the Congolese J'ba FoFi, an enormous spider with legs allegedly over three feet long, the mokèlé-mbèmbé, a deadly African water dinosaur, and the phantom cat, an abnormally large feline found in various improbably places. 4 The origins of the word “cryptozoologist” come from the ancient Greek, crypto meaning “hidden” and “zoo” meaning animal.5 Some of the most famous of these mythical animals or cryptids are Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and Chupacabra. 6 Many denizens consider cryptozoologists to be pseudoscientists; but, they believe that the discipline’s reliance on anecdotal evidence does not exclude it from the world of serious science.

7 Many of these animals seem too incredible to be believed and yes evidence is often flimsy, but the existence of fossil records sometimes provide evidence to the contrary. 8 As such many doubters attempt to machinate the cryptids’ existence, but cryptozoologists aim to abolish their skepticism.

In Sentence 2, what word should replace “that”?

Possible Answers:

those

that (no change)

they

which

who

Correct answer:

who

Explanation:

Because zoologists are people, the proper word to use is “who.”

Example Question #842 : Improving Paragraphs

1 The job of the cryptozoologist is a taciturn one for sure. 2 Being unlike ordinary zoologists, that study the behaviors and lives of a cathartic variety of animals, cryptozoologists track down mythical animals whose existence has never or rarely been proven.

3 There is the Congolese J'ba FoFi, an enormous spider with legs allegedly over three feet long, the mokèlé-mbèmbé, a deadly African water dinosaur, and the phantom cat, an abnormally large feline found in various improbably places. 4 The origins of the word “cryptozoologist” come from the ancient Greek, crypto meaning “hidden” and “zoo” meaning animal.5 Some of the most famous of these mythical animals or cryptids are Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and Chupacabra. 6 Many denizens consider cryptozoologists to be pseudoscientists; but, they believe that the discipline’s reliance on anecdotal evidence does not exclude it from the world of serious science.

7 Many of these animals seem too incredible to be believed and yes evidence is often flimsy, but the existence of fossil records sometimes provide evidence to the contrary. 8 As such many doubters attempt to machinate the cryptids’ existence, but cryptozoologists aim to abolish their skepticism.

In Sentence 3, how should “improbably” be changed?

Possible Answers:

improbableness

improbability

improbably (no change)

improbable

improbabilifed

Correct answer:

improbable

Explanation:

Since the word is modifying a noun, we need its adjective form: “improbable.”

Example Question #843 : Improving Paragraphs

1 Dream interpretation has a long and storied past. 2 Did you know that the ancient Egyptians were interpreting dreams thousands of years ago? 3 In ancient Greece, prophecies were often based off dreams; and in English literature including Shakespeare dreams have long held a significant role.

4 Common dream symbols include new rooms, which indicate new discoveries about the self, hair, which is purportedly related to sexuality, and forests, which alternately signal loss or variegated opportunities. 5 Books with titles ranging from The Lofty Principles of Dream Interpretation and Dream Alchemy offer advice, and opinions.6 More recently, psychologists have contributed their own analysis to the collaboration of interpretative literature. 7 What did you think your dreams mean?

In Sentence 5, what word should be changed?

Possible Answers:

and

opinions

offer

ranging

No word should be changed in this sentence.

Correct answer:

and

Explanation:

To fit the unvarying “from __________ to __________” construction, the “and” in this sentence should be changed to a “to.”

Example Question #844 : Improving Paragraphs

1 By now it’s common knowledge that a food may be considered unctuous in one culture may be gleaned repulsive in another. 2 Octopus is one such food. 3 It valorizes its audiences, with some gourmands claiming its rubbery texture is unpalatable, others enjoying the unusual taste. 4 It’s cousin, squid, is known as “calamari,” and is also popular in many countries.5 Octopus can be fried in batter, roasted with herbs, steamed and sprinkled with paprika, serve it raw in sushi, or even eat it alive. 6 But be careful: The head of the octopus’ can be poisonous!

Which of the following sentences contains an apostrophe error?

Possible Answers:

Sentence 4

Sentence 2

Sentence 3

Sentence 1

Sentence 5

Correct answer:

Sentence 4

Explanation:

The correct possessive of the pronoun “it” is “its,” not “it’s.”

Example Question #845 : Improving Paragraphs

1 If you’ve watched any environmental news reports in the last few years, it’s likely you’ve stumbled among the idea of fracking. 2 The word is short for “hydraulic fracturing” and involves injecting liquid into rock to create fractures and fractals, there allowing natural gas to be extracted more querulously.3 Proponents say the method facilitates oil drilling and allows countries, like the United States, to cut back on their foreign oil dependence. 4 Amateurs say that fracking, causes significant and sometimes irresponsible environmental damage.

5 Fracking can require sonorous quantities of water, and leach dangerous carcinogenic chemicals into the groundwater. 6 Some people have even inquired minor earthquakes to fracking: as the process thought to spurn tremors.7 Perhaps most worrisome, fracking allows governments to continue depending on fossil fuel rather than exploring renewable energy. 8 These sources could include wind turbines, solar panels, even hot springs and waterwheels.

In Sentence 7, what should “worrisome” be changed to?

Possible Answers:

worrisome (no change)

of the worries

worrisomely

worried

often worried

Correct answer:

worrisomely

Explanation:

This introductory clause is an adverbial one, meaning that “worrisome” should be changed to its adverb form.

Example Question #846 : Improving Paragraphs

1 Thoreau went to them when he wished to live deliberately, Whitman wrote about them in his book Leaves of Grass. 2 They clean the air, and harbor wildlife. 3 There are nearly 200 million, protected acres of them in the United States. 4 Forests are a national treasure.

5 Since the late 1800s, Congress and Presidents have decorated various areas of the country as national forests, grasslands, and preserves. 6 Some well known National Parks include the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Great Smoky Mountains. 7 Protecting forests helps safeguard native plant and animal species, it honors landscapes complex histories, and preserving the natural beauty for future generations.

In Sentence 5, which word is improperly capitalized?

Possible Answers:

country

national

Presidents

late

Congress

Correct answer:

Presidents

Explanation:

“Congress,” a specific group of people, is a proper noun and must therefore be capitalized. None of the others words in this sentence are proper nouns, so they should all be written in lowercase.

Example Question #8 : New Sat Writing And Language

There are two different ways to consider the so-called “Dark Ages.” On the one hand, you can think of the period directly after the fall of the Roman Empire, when civilization began to collapse throughout the Western Empire. On the other hand, you can consider the period that followed this initial collapse of society. It is a gross simplification too use the adjective dark to describe the civilization of either of these periods.

As regards the first period, it is quite a simplification to consider this period to be a single historical moment. It is not as though the civilization switched off like a lightbulb. At one moment light and then, at the next, dark. Instead, the decline of civilization occurred over a period of numerous decades and was, in fact, already occurring for many years before the so-called period of darkness. Thus, the decline of civilization was not a rapid collapse into barbarism, but instead, was a slow alteration of the cultural milieu of a partition of Europe. Indeed, the Eastern Roman Empire retained much of it’s cultural status during these years of decline!

More importantly, the period following the slow collapse of the Western Empire was much less “dark” than almost every popular telling states. Indeed, even during the period of decline, the seeds for cultural restoration was being sown. A key element of this cultural revival were the formation of monastic communities throughout the countryside of what we now know as Europe. Although these were not the only positive force during these centuries, the monasteries had played an important role in preserving and advancing the cause of culture through at least the thirteenth century and arguably until the Renaissance.

How should the underlined section be corrected?

Possible Answers:

It is a gross simplification to use the adjective

It is a gross simplification, too, use the adjective

NO CHANGE

It was a gross simplification to use the adjective

It was a gross simplification too use the adjective

Correct answer:

It is a gross simplification to use the adjective

Explanation:

As written, the selection misuses the word "too." This means also. What you need is the form "to" in order to complete the infinitive verb form "to use." Note, however, that you should not add "too" in addition to "to." There is no need for expressing "also" in the actual content expressed in this passage. This is the only direct statement made about the simplification in question. Hence, you do not need to say "also" or "too."

Example Question #21 : New Sat Writing And Language

Are you trying to stick to a budget? Using coupons for purchases, also known as “couponing” is a great way to save money on groceries. Coupons are a little piece of paper that can give you a discount on what you buy. You will be amazed at the great bargains and amazing savings you can get!

It’s easy to get started. When you open up your daily newspaper, one might find a glossy insert full of coupons. Some of the coupons will be for things you don’t buy, some will be for things you buy all the time. Go through the coupons and chop out the ones you can use.

The key to successful couponing is getting multiple copies of coupon circulars. Ask your friends, your neighbors, and family if they have any extras. Some coupon users even go through the recycling at their office to find more coupons! Have you ever heard of such a thing in your life! Completely devoted, these circulars help coupon users to get even more savings.

Couponing might sound like hard work, but for many people, it’s also a hobby. Not only does it help them save hundreds of dollars per year, but also it gives them a fun challenge every time they do their shopping. 

How should the underlined section be corrected?

Possible Answers:

key in

key into

key of

NO CHANGE

key for

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

This question asks you about the correct preposition to use with a noun. When the noun "key" is used to describe an important secret or way of mastering something, the preposition that should follow is "to." This rule is idiomatic, which means it must be memorized. 

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