SAT Writing : Improving Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #1841 : Improving Sentences

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.

Before the ants arrive we should eat the picnic, that Laura packed.

Possible Answers:

Before the ants arrive; we should eat the picnic that Laura packed.

Before the ants arrive we should eat the picnic that Laura packed.

Before the ants arrive, we should eat the picnic, that Laura packed.

Before the ants arrive we should eat the picnic, that Laura packed.

Before the ants arrive, we should eat the picnic that Laura packed.

Correct answer:

Before the ants arrive, we should eat the picnic that Laura packed.

Explanation:

There is no comma before “that,” since the word “that” usually indicates information that essential to the sense of the clause and therefore is rarely preceded by a comma.

Example Question #4012 : Sat Writing

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.

If you can help me build this lemonade stand. I’ll split the profits fifty-fifty with you.

Possible Answers:

If you can help me build this lemonade stand; I’ll split the profits fifty-fifty with you.

If you can help me build this lemonade stand: I’ll split the profits fifty-fifty with you.

If you can help me build this lemonade stand. I’ll split the profits fifty-fifty with you.

If you can help me build this lemonade stand, I’ll split the profits fifty-fifty with you.

If you can help me build this lemonade stand; I’ll split the profits, fifty-fifty with you.

Correct answer:

If you can help me build this lemonade stand, I’ll split the profits fifty-fifty with you.

Explanation:

“If you can help me build this lemonade stand” is a dependent clause, and “I’ll split the profits fifty-fifty with you” is an independent clause. Dependent clauses must always be separated from independent clauses with commas. "If" is a key word signaling a dependent clause.

Example Question #313 : Comma 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 hardest thing, for most new pianists to learn is the correct hand position.

Possible Answers:

The hardest thing, for most new pianists to learn is the correct hand position.

The hardest thing for most new pianists to learn, is the correct hand position.

The hardest thing, for most new pianists to learn, is the correct hand position.

The hardest thing, for most new pianists, to learn is the correct hand position.

The hardest thing for most new pianists to learn is the correct hand position.

Correct answer:

The hardest thing for most new pianists to learn is the correct hand position.

Explanation:

The comma in the sentence is incorrectly deployed, as it divides a continuous phrase into two parts. The sentence should actually have no commas in it, as the sentence works as a continual phrase. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "The hardest thing for most new pianists to lean is the correct hand position."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Other Commas

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.

"What goes around comes around" is an idiom that often does not make sense outside of a larger context.

Possible Answers:

"What goes around, comes around" is an idiom

"What goes around comes around" are idioms

"What goes around comes around" is an idiom

What goes around comes around is an idiom

"What goes, around, comes around" is an idiom

Correct answer:

"What goes around, comes around" is an idiom

Explanation:

The phrase in quotation marks, "What goes around comes around," is the subject of the sentence, but described as an idiom. This means that it needs to be treated as a full sentence, because it is being referred to as a singular whole. To be a complete sentence, a comma needs to be put between its two parts, making ""What goes around, comes around" is an idiom," the correct answer choice.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Other Commas

 

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.

 

Making a great deal of money, is rarely a path to happiness.

Possible Answers:

Making a great deal of money, rarely a path to happiness.

Making a great deal of money, is rarely a path to happiness.

Making a great deal of money is rarely a path to happiness.

Making, a great deal of money, is rarely a path to happiness.

Making a great deal of money, being rarely a path to happiness.

Correct answer:

Making a great deal of money is rarely a path to happiness.

Explanation:

The use of the comma in the middle of this sentence is completely unnecessary and weirdly divides the sentence into two. No punctuation is needed in this sentence, and the best choice is to remove the comma. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "Making a great deal of money is rarely a path to happiness."

Example Question #1491 : Psat Writing Skills

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.

Many former army commanders came out against the plan, in newspapers as soon as the story was leaked.

Possible Answers:

Many, former army commanders, came out against the plan, in newspapers as soon as the story was leaked.

Many, former army commanders came out against the plan, in newspapers as soon as the story was leaked.

Many former army commanders came out against the plan in newspapers as soon as the story was leaked.

Many former army commanders, came out against the plan, in newspapers as soon as the story was leaked.

Many former army commanders came out against the plan, in newspapers as soon, as the story was leaked.

Correct answer:

Many former army commanders came out against the plan in newspapers as soon as the story was leaked.

Explanation:

The sentence does not need more commas inserted into it, but fewer. The sole usage in the sentence is a comma splice, or a random insertion of a comma where it should not be. The correct answer choice is "Many former army commanders came out against the plan in newspapers as soon as the story was leaked."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Other Commas

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.

Under no circumstances, would he let his child go to the public pool.

Possible Answers:

Under, no circumstances, would he let

Under no circumstances would he let

Under no circumstances, would he leave

Under no circumstances, would he let

Under no circumstances' would he let

Correct answer:

Under no circumstances would he let

Explanation:

The use of the comma after "circumstances" is incorrect, as the verb "would" connects the conditional phrase to the rest of the sentence. This means no punctuation is necessary, so "Under no circumstances would he let" is the correct answer.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Other Commas

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 worst part, about his new job, was working longer hours without overtime.

Possible Answers:

The worst part, about his new job

The worst part about, his new job, 

The worst part about his new job

The worst part, about his new job, 

The worst part about his new job, 

Correct answer:

The worst part about his new job

Explanation:

The phrase "about his new job" is vital to the construction of the sentence, as it provides information about the second part of the sentence; therefore, it should not be set apart by commas. The correct answer is "The worst part about his new job."

Example Question #441 : Punctuation 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.

Meg and her friend Seth, were both fascinated by honeybees, which can distinguish between hundreds of different flowers' scents.

Possible Answers:

Meg and her friend, Seth, were both fascinated by honeybees which

Meg and her friend Seth, were both fascinated by honeybees, which

Meg, and her friend Seth, were both fascinated by honeybees, which

Meg and her friend Seth were both fascinated by honeybees which

Meg and her friend, Seth, were both fascinated by honeybees, which

Correct answer:

Meg and her friend, Seth, were both fascinated by honeybees, which

Explanation:

In this sentence, “Seth” and “which can distinguish between hundreds of different flower scents” are relative clauses. In other words, they’re non-essential information that can be removed and still leave a complete sentence. Therefore, they must be set off from the rest of the sentence with commas.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Other Commas

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.

Einstein, who was born in Ulm, Germany is famous for his theory of relativity, which is important to modern physics.

Possible Answers:

Einstein who was born in Ulm, Germany is famous for his theory of relativity, which is important to modern physics.

Einstein, who was born in Ulm, Germany, is famous for his theory of relativity which is important to modern physics.

Einstein, who was born in Ulm, Germany, is famous for his theory of relativity, which is important to modern physics.

Einstein, who was born in Ulm, Germany is famous for his theory of relativity, which is important to modern physics.

Einstein, who was born in Ulm, Germany is famous for his theory of relativity which is important to modern physics.

Correct answer:

Einstein, who was born in Ulm, Germany, is famous for his theory of relativity, which is important to modern physics.

Explanation:

Here, “who was born in Ulm, Germany,” is a relative clause that modifies or describes “Einstein,” and “which is important to modern physics” is a relative clause that modifies “his theory of relativity.” Because relative clauses contain non-essential information (they can be removed and still leave a complete sentence), they must always be separated from the rest of the sentence by commas. Also, don’t forget that commas are always used between the name of a city and the name of its state or country, as in “Ulm, Germany.”

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