SAT: Sentence Correction

In the Sentence Correction section of the SAT, each question is a single complete sentence with four underlined words or phrases lettered A, B, C, and D. A fifth choice, E, is for no error. Parts of the sentence that are not underlined are correct and cannot be changed. No sentence will contain more than one error, so if you find an error, don't keep looking; simply select the letter below the error. If you cannot find a clear error in a sentence, choose E (No Error). Note that you do not have to correct the sentence; simply find the error if there is one.

The following are some common errors you'll find in this section of the SAT.

Subject-verb agreement

An agreement error is the faulty combination of a singular and a plural. For example:

The short stories of J. California Cooper addresses the black experience with colloquial talk, dialect, dots, dashes, and even musical notes. No Error

The subject stories is plural. To agree, the verb should be the plural address. The correct answer is A.

Pronoun agreement errors

Pronouns can be either singular or plural and must agree with the verb and with the noun that they refer to. For example:

The greatest strength of the American political system is each voter's right to determine which way they will vote. No Error

The singular is agrees with the singular strength. The plural they, however, does not agree with the singular each voter. The correct answer is C.

Verb tense errors

The tenses (present, past, future) of the verbs in a sentence must be logical and consistent. For example:

When the bell rang, I grabbed my backpack and run as fast as I could to catch the first bus. No Error

The first two verbs here (rang and grabbed) are in past tense. To be consistent, run should be ran. The correct answer is B.

Case errors

Pronouns in English have three cases: subjective (I, he), possessive (my, his), and objective (me, him). The function of the pronoun in the sentence determines its case. For example:

According to the surgeon, the diagnosis of illness was not likely to alarm either she or her husband. No Error

The object of the infinitive to alarm is she or her husband. The she should be the objective her. The correct answer is C.

Ambiguous pronoun errors

The antecedent of a pronoun (the word the pronoun refers to) should be clear. For example:

Many historians believe the Kennedy-Nixon election was decided by the television debate in which he appeared unshaven and humorless. No Error

A reader has no way of knowing whether the antecedent of the pronoun he is Kennedy or Nixon. The correct answer is D.

Parallel construction errors

Errors of parallelism occur when two or more linked words or phrases are expressed in different grammatical structures. Parallelism errors may include unnecessary shifts in verb tenses (past to present, for example) or voice (active to passive, for example). They may also include shifts in pronouns (you to one, for example). Watch for these errors in lists or series.

Miguel enjoyed swimming, weight lifting, and to run. No Error

To run is incorrect; it should be an "-ing" word (running) like the other items. The correct answer is D.

Comparison errors (illogical comparisons)

When making a comparison, be sure that the two compared elements are similar. Watch carefully for this error when a sentence begins with Like. Note that the omission of necessary words can also make comparisons illogical. Though wordiness is a fault, some constructions require extra words to be clear and logical. A sentence like "I am interested in but uninformed about dinosaurs." would be incorrect without both the in and the about.

Because the volcanoes on the island of Hawaii are more active than other islands, it is the center for geological studies. No Error.

The comparison here is illogical. The sentence compares the more active volcanoes to other islands, not to volcanoes on the other islands. The corrected sentence would read more active than those on other islands. The correct answer is B.