SAT Writing : Identifying Phrase, Clause, and Sentence Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Identifying Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Ben, Irene, and Lily spent hours debating among themselves who was the best writer. No error

Possible Answers:

themselves

among

who

No error

best

Correct answer:

No error

Explanation:

There is no error in this sentence. Though it may be tempting to think of "amongst" instead of "among," they are (usually) grammatically interchangeable. Because the comparison is between more than two people (three, in this case), the superlative "best" is correct, and the word "who" is the correct pronoun.

Example Question #2 : Identifying Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Intense, obsessive preoccupation with success can seem either unhealthy and unnatural or commendable and prestigious. No error

Possible Answers:

with

can seem either

Intense, obsessive

No error

and unnatural, or commendable

Correct answer:

No error

Explanation:

This sentence is grammatically sound, and thus features no error. "Either" is followed by an "or," as it should be (true also of "neither" and "nor"), and "with" is the right word for success, as opposed to, say, "preoccupation in success" or "preoccupation on success."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

The library, which is made almost entirely of redwood, was built before redwood trees were protected.

Possible Answers:

which

protected

almost entirely

No error

was built

Correct answer:

No error

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

The atonal chords and pounding rhythms of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring provoked riots among the audience the first time the piece was performed.

Possible Answers:

among the audience

and pounding rhythms

was performed

No error

provoked

Correct answer:

No error

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

While she had to admit that swimming across the English Channel would be a worthy achievement, Karen decided that climbing Mount Everest would be a more impressive life goal.

Possible Answers:

No error

had to admit that

would be a

across

more impressive

Correct answer:

No error

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written.

Example Question #21 : Identifying Sentence Errors

The United States has been a country of immigrants since its foundation. This is still true today. The United States allows more people to immigrate to it then any other country. This stream of immigration have resulted in an extremely diverse population with many different cultures and languages. As most public schools in the United States provide a monolingual education, immigrant parents are often unsure of whether or not they should teach their children their heritage language.  

There are many myths surrounding the idea of bilingual education that prevent its widespread implementation in public schools. However, bilingual education has actually been shown to produce higher achievements in both languages. As well as enhance problem solving and critical thinking skills. Because some public school systems have successfully implemented bilingual education, there are still enormous difficulties in terms of resources and support from the U.S. Board of Education.

Which of the underlined words is used incorrectly?

Possible Answers:

surrounding

Because

foundation

All of the underlined words are used correctly.

implementation

Correct answer:

Because

Explanation:

"Because" is used incorrectly in the context of the sentence it appears in. "Because" is used to discuss two ideas that are linked by a relationship of cause and effect. However, in the sentence it appears in, the two ideas ("some public school systems have successfully implemented bilingual education" and "there are still enormous difficulties in terms of resources and support from the U.S. Board of Education") are not related to each other as cause and effect, but rather in despite of the first, the second is still true. So, a word such as "although" should be used in place of "because."

Example Question #21 : Identifying Sentence Errors

The United States has been a country of immigrants since its foundation. This is still true today. The United States allows more people to immigrate to it then any other country. This stream of immigration have resulted in an extremely diverse population with many different cultures and languages. As most public schools in the United States provide a monolingual education, immigrant parents are often unsure of whether or not they should teach their children their heritage language.  

There are many myths surrounding the idea of bilingual education that prevent its widespread implementation in public schools. However, bilingual education has actually been shown to produce higher achievements in both languages. As well as enhance problem solving and critical thinking skills. Because some public school systems have successfully implemented bilingual education, there are still enormous difficulties in terms of resources and support from the U.S. Board of Education.

Which of the underlined words needs to be modified?

Possible Answers:

then

implemented

foundation

diverse

achievements

Correct answer:

then

Explanation:

"Then" is an adverb dealing with time, but "than" is used for comparisons. In this case, "than" should be used, because the amount of imigration allowed by the United States is being compared to that of any other country. So, "then" is the underlined word that needs to be modified.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Swift's style was well suited to his thoughts, which are never subtilised by nice disquisitions, decorated by sparkling conceits, elevated by ambitious sentences, or variegated by far-sought learning. He pays no court to the passions; he excites neither surprise nor admiration; he always understands himself, and his readers always understand him: the pursuer of Swift wants little previous knowledge; it will be sufficient that he is acquainted with common words and common things; he is neither required to mount elevations nor to explore profundities; his passage is always on a level, along solid ground, without asperities, without obstruction.

Which of the underlined words is used incorrectly?

Possible Answers:

profundities

pursuer

ambitious

conceits

Correct answer:

pursuer

Explanation:

It is unlikely that a reader of Swift would be called his "pursuer," but the reader might be called a "peruser."

(Passage adapted from "Swift" in Volume III of Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets by Samuel Johnson, 1781)

Example Question #2 : Identifying Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

In Swift's works, he has given very different specimens both of sentiment and expression. His Tale of a Tub has little resemblance to his other pieces. It executes a vehemence and rapidity of mind, a copiousness of images, and vivacity of diction, such as he afterwards never possessed, or never exerted. It is of a mode so distinct and peculiar, that it must be considered by itself; what is true of that, is not true of any thing else which he has written.

Which of the underlined words is used incorrectly?

Possible Answers:

specimens

exerted

executes

peculiar

Correct answer:

executes

Explanation:

A work would not "execute a vehemence and rapidity of mind," but it might "express" these features.

(Passage adapted from "Swift" in Volume III of Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets by Samuel Johnson, 1781)

Example Question #4 : Identifying Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

In Swift's other works is found an equable tenor of easy language, which rather trickles than flows. His delight was in simplicity. That he has in his works no metaphor, as has been said, is not true; but his few metaphors seem to be received rather by necessity than choice. He studied purity; and though perhaps all his scriptures are not exact, yet it is not often that solecisms can be found; and whoever depends on his authority may generally conclude himself safe. His sentences are never too much dilated or contracted; and it will not be easy to find any embarrassment in the complication of his clauses, any inconsequence in his connections, or abruptness in his transitions.

Which of the underlined words is used incorrectly?

Possible Answers:

scriptures

dilated

abruptness

tenor

Correct answer:

scriptures

Explanation:

The word "scriptures" makes no sense in this context; the writer originally used the similar-sounding word "strictures" here.

(Passage adapted from "Swift" in Volume III of Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets by Samuel Johnson, 1781)

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