SAT Writing : Improving Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #1401 : 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 want to pay someone a compliment; it's best to be polite and make sure that the timing is appropriate.

Possible Answers:

If you want to pay someone a compliment, its best to be polite and make sure that the timing is appropriate.

If you want to pay someone a compliment; its best to be polite and make sure that the timing is appropriate.

If you want to pay someone a compliment; it's best to be polite and make sure that the timing is appropriate.

If you want to pay someone a compliment its best to be polite and make sure that the timing is appropriate.

If you want to pay someone a compliment, it's best to be polite and make sure that the timing is appropriate.

Correct answer:

If you want to pay someone a compliment, it's best to be polite and make sure that the timing is appropriate.

Explanation:

Semicolons may be used to separate two related, independent clauses. In this case, the first clause is subordinate (the major clue for this being "if"), so the semicolon is erronenous. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is:

Example Question #1402 : 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.

I don't understand why you object to every instruction you receive; for it's your job to take instruction.

Possible Answers:

I don't understand why you object to every instruction you receive; for it's your job to take instruction.

I don't understand why you object to every instruction you receive: while it's your job to take instruction.

I don't understand why you object to every instruction you receive; but it's your job to take instruction.

I don't understand why you object to every instruction you receive; and it's your job to take instruction.

I don't understand why you object to every instruction you receive; it's your job to take instruction.

Correct answer:

I don't understand why you object to every instruction you receive; it's your job to take instruction.

Explanation:

Semicolons may be used to separate two related, independent clauses; however, they must be used alone, and without any accompanying conjunction. In order for this sentence to be correct, either the semicolon must be changed to a comma, or the coordinating conjunction "for" needs to be deleted. The only correct answer option chooses the latter.

Example Question #61 : 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.

I am really frustrated with my girlfriend right now; but I have to admit that I still love her.

Possible Answers:

I am really frustrated with my girlfriend right now; I have to admit that I still love her.

I am really frustrated with my girlfriend right now; and I have to admit that I still love her.

I am really frustrated with my girlfriend right now; but I have to admit that I still love her.

I am really frustrated with my girlfriend right now; while I have to admit that I still love her.

I am really frustrated with my girlfriend right now; or I have to admit that I still love her.

Correct answer:

I am really frustrated with my girlfriend right now; I have to admit that I still love her.

Explanation:

Semicolons may be used to separate two related, independent clauses, but they must be used alone, and without any accompanying conjunction. In the example sentence, a semicolon correctly signals the end of one independent clause and the beginning of another, but it incorrectly places a coordinating conjunction after this semicolon, and is thus incorrect. The correct option simply deletes "but."

Example Question #1403 : 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.

I'm having a really; bad day I need to go home and get some rest.

Possible Answers:

I'm having a really; bad day I need to go home and get some rest.

I'm having a really bad day I need to go; home and get some rest.

I'm having a really bad day; I need to go home and get some rest.

I'm having a really bad day; but I need to go home and get some rest.

I'm having a really bad day; and I need to go home and get some rest.

Correct answer:

I'm having a really bad day; I need to go home and get some rest.

Explanation:

The example sentence commits a simple error of semicolon placement. Semicolons, when used to connect two independent clauses into one compound sentence, must come at the end of the first independent clause and beginning of the next. Semicolons should never be placed in the middle of a clause. The corrected version of the sentence reads, "I'm having a really bad day; I need to go home and get some rest."

Note also that semicolons should never precede coordinating conjunctions.

Example Question #64 : 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.

There's a great deal of work to be done; here I am worried that it won't be finished in time.

Possible Answers:

There's a great deal of work to be done here; while I am worried; that it won't be finished in time.

There's a great deal of work to be done here, I am worried that it won't be finished in time.

There's a great deal of work to be done; here I am worried that it won't be finished in time.

There's a great deal of work to be done here; I am worried that it won't be finished in time.

There's a great deal of work to be done here; but I am worried that it won't be finished in time.

Correct answer:

There's a great deal of work to be done here; I am worried that it won't be finished in time.

Explanation:

The example sentence makes a simple error of semicolon placement. Since they are used to join two independent clauses into a compound sentence, semicolons need to be placed at the end of the first independent clause and at the beginning of the second. The example sentence needs to have the semicolon moved so that it comes at the end of a complete independent clause, after the word "here."

Note also that coordinating conjunctions should not follow semicolons used in this fashion.

Example Question #65 : 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.

There's a lot of great television to watch right now; but there's always more to read.

Possible Answers:

There's a lot of great television to watch right now; or there's always more to read

There's a lot of great television to watch right now; with there's always more to read.

There's a lot of great television to watch right now; there's always more to read.

There's a lot of great television to watch right now; and there's always more to read.

There's a lot of great television to watch right now; but there's always more to read.

Correct answer:

There's a lot of great television to watch right now; there's always more to read.

Explanation:

Semicolons may be used to separate two related, independent clauses, but  they must be used alone, and without any accompanying conjunction. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is, "There's a lot of great television to watch right now; there's always more to read."

Example Question #1404 : 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.

Although I enjoy your company; I really think you need to tone it down a little.

Possible Answers:

Although I enjoy your company, I really think, you need to tone it down a little.

Although I enjoy your company, I really think you need to tone it down a little.

Although I enjoy your company I really think you need to tone it down a little.

Although I enjoy your company; I really think you need to tone it down a little.

Although I enjoy your company: I really think you need to tone it down a little.

Correct answer:

Although I enjoy your company, I really think you need to tone it down a little.

Explanation:

In the example sentence "Although I enjoy your company" is acting as a dependent, introductory clause. We know it cannot be an independent clause because it begins with the coordinating conjunction "although." Semicolons should never be used to connect a dependent clause to a main clause. The only correct option corrects the sentence by simply replacing the semicolon with a comma.

Example Question #61 : Improving Sentences

Select the underlined portion of the sentence below that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

I'm having a hard time understanding the foreign exchange student; and I hope you can help me pick up more of what he is saying. No error

Possible Answers:

can help me pick

student; and

No error

understanding the foreign

I'm having 

Correct answer:

student; and

Explanation:

Semicolons may be used to separate two related, independent clauses; however, they must be used alone, and without any accompanying conjunction, and the clauses must be independent of each other. In this sentence, the coordinating conjunction "and" incorrectly follows the semicolon. The portion of the sentence that needs to be corrected in the sentence above is, "student; and," and this selection can be corrected by replacing the semicolon with a comma.

Example Question #1402 : Sat Writing

Select the underlined portion of the sentence below that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Whenever I eat doughnuts; I try to remind myself to eat healthily for the rest of the day. No error

Possible Answers:

Whenever I eat doughnuts;

to remind

day.

eat healthily

No error

Correct answer:

Whenever I eat doughnuts;

Explanation:

The first clause of this sentence, "whenever I eat doughnuts" is clearly a dependent clause. It is always incorrect to punctuate a dependent clause with a semicolon. In this case, the semicolon should be replaced with a comma.

Example Question #61 : Improving Sentences

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

While I enjoy a good party as much as the next person; I prefer to spend time by myself when possible. No error

 

Possible Answers:

While I enjoy 

when possible

as much as

person;

No error

Correct answer:

person;

Explanation:

Semicolons may be used to separate two related, independent clauses (a comma with an appropriate coordinating conjunction will also do the trick). In this sentence, the subordinate conjunction "while" tells us that the first clause is dependent, and thus cannot be concluded with a semicolon. The portion of the sentence that needs to be corrected in the sentence above is, "person;" and it can be corrected simply by replacing the semicolon with a comma.

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