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SAT – Critical Reading
& Writing Course
Identifying Sentences Errors
Identifying Sentences Errors
• What does it test?
– The identifying sentences errors questions are designed to
test your knowledge of grammar and usage.
• Questions structure:
 Each sentence has four possible errors, underlined and marked a–d. There is also a
choice (e) for “no error."
 No sentence contains more than one error.
 It is your task to find the error, or choose (e) if the sentence is correct.
Identifying sentence error - example
Those old Atari video games in your closet are on the
wish list of the Computer Museum of America,
in San Diego, California, and they hope you will donate
it to their holdings. No error.
Explanation: The plural verb are is correct; it expresses
the action of the plural noun games. There’s also nothing
wrong with San Diego, California and holdings. The plural
pronoun they, however, is incorrect. It replaces the noun
Computer Museum of America, which is singular.
Errors you’re likely to see
■ Agreement
■ Consistency
■ Parallel structure
■ Verb form
■ Pronoun case
■ Idiom
■ Word choice
An agreement error is an awkward
combination of a sentence
elements, such as subjects and
verbs and pronouns and
antecedents. (Recall that an
antecedent is the noun that a
pronoun replaces.)
* To agree, singular subjects
require singular verbs, and plural
subjects require plural verbs.
* Singular nouns can be replaced
only by singular pronouns, and
plural nouns require plural
Agreement - example
Explanation: The phrase like most catchy slogans can mislead you. If you assume slogans is the subject, then the pronoun
they and the verb simplify seem correct—they agree with the plural subject. But subjects are never in prepositional
phrases, so slogans can’t be the subject of the verb simplify. Look again at the sentence. What is simplifying? Not the
slogans, but the label “Eat, drink, and be merry”—a singular noun. Thus, the pronoun must be it and the verb must be
simplifies to agree with the subject, so choice c contains the error and is therefore the correct answer.
As sentences must be balanced,
they must also be consistent. And
like errors in agreement, errors in
consistency involve verb and
pronoun usage.
A shift from the singular I to the
plural we, for example, can leave
the reader wondering just who is
doing what in the sentence.
If a sentence begins in the past
tense, it must stay in the past
tense. Pronouns need to be
consistent in person and number.
Consistency - example
1- The first sentence is in the present tense as
evidenced by the present participles keeping and
putting, and the present make. But it ends with the
past tense belonged. To be consistent, that last verb
needs to be changed to the present tense belong.
2- In the second sentence, the author correctly uses
the singular pronoun he or she to replace the singular
noun recipient. But she then incorrectly uses the plural
pronoun their to refer to the same antecedent. The use
of his or her would correct the error.
Parallel Structure
Parallel structure involves pairs and
lists of words and phrases. Both items
in a pair, and all items in a list need to
follow the same grammatical pattern.
If you’re writing about your friend’s
favorite leisure activities, you wouldn’t
say, “Juan loves skating and to read.” It
sounds awkward because the items in
the pair aren’t the same grammatically.
The first is a participle (skating), and
the second is an infinitive (to read).
In order to maintain parallel structure,
you could change skating to to skate,
or to read to reading. Either way,
you’ll get parallel structure.
Parallel Structure – Example
Explanation: This sentence offers a list of three
things one can do to become an informed citizen:
reading, watching, and you should read. Notice
how the third item does not follow the same
grammatical pattern as the first. It should begin
with a verb in participial form, reading. You should
is unnecessary and should be eliminated.
Verb Form
Verbs are the “meat” of a sentence—they express what the subject is doing, thinking, or feeling. Correct
verb form is essential to sentence clarity, and you can expect to find at least one question with a verb
form issue.
Explanation: Lay and lie are commonly confused. To lay means
to place something down, and to lie means to recline.
Obviously in this sentence, the latter verb is required;
however, to make things even more confusing, the correct
past tense form of to lie is lay.
Verb Form – Missing subjunctive
Missing subjunctive: Most verbs are in the indicative mood, meaning that they simply indicate an action,
thought, or feeling. The subjunctive mood is used to express something that is wished for or that is untrue. It is
formed with the past tense or past perfect tense (using the helping verb were). But we often forget to use it,
both in speech and in writing. When a sentence starts with if, I wish, or It would have been, it’s probably in the
subjunctive mood.
Explanation: The clause it would have been tells us
that the money isn’t there, it’s just wished for, so the
verb needs to be subjunctive: if you had brought.
Pronouns case
Personal pronouns have two main forms: the subjective and objective cases. This simply means that we use on form
when the pronoun is acting as a subject and another form when the pronoun is acting as an object. Expect to see a
couple of sentence errors involving confusion of subjective and objective cases.
Another common sentence error involves a pronoun following the
word than. Because the than + (pro)noun construction requires a verb
(even if that verb is not articulated), you must use the subjective form
of the pronoun: I am taller than he [is]..
Explanation: You and me is not the subject
of the sentence (difference is), but rather
the object of the preposition between. Even
if it might sound wrong, me, the objective
form of I, is correct.
 Idioms are expressions peculiar to a particular language, whose meanings cannot be discerned by
defining them word for word. For example: “falls in love”, “sitting pretty” .
 The two most common errors you’re likely to encounter are those involving prepositional pairs (e.g., take care of,
according to) and the use of infinitives and gerunds (e.g., want to meet, practice swimming).
 Example:
1. This year’s model is different than last year’s.
2. She has difficulty in the Advanced Placement
History class.
3. The color choices are typical for that artist.
 Explanation:
(1) different than should be different from, (2) difficulty in should be difficulty with, (3) typical for should be typical of.
If the subject of prepositions is confusing, you’ll need to do some memorizing. Idioms are idiosyncratic—there are no
easy rules for remembering them!
Common Idioms
 The other type of idiom error you’re likely to see is the improper use of infinitives (to + verb: to
water) and gerunds (verb + ing: watering). Some verbs must take one or the other, and a small
handful take both.
 Example :
 I spend two hours each day practicing to swim.
 We had fun pretending being rock stars.
 My father resents to be asked for money all the time.
 Explanation:
1- practicing to swim should be practicing swimming.
2- pretending being should be pretending to be.
3- resents to be should be resents being.
Word choice
There are two categories of words that are most problematic: confused words (homonyms that sound
the same but have different meanings and spellings) and misused words (pairs so often used incorrectly,
the errors sound acceptable to most people).
Practice Time…..
Practice Time…..
Essay Practice Writing
“No one is contented in this world. I believe. There is always something left to desire, and the last thing
longed for always seems the most necessary to happiness.
- Marie Corelli, A Romance of two Worlds
Assignment: Do you think that people are capable of finding happiness, or are they
always searching for something beyond what they have? Plan and write an essay in
which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with
reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or