The SAT Proofreading and Editing Section: Basic Principles
If you ever studied grammar in school, the topic may bring up nightmare memories of terms like "subjunctive tense" and "past participle" and "periodic sentences." Ugh. I promise not to use any complex terms like these.
We will, however, need certain basic terms to discuss grammar on the SAT. I've pared down the list to ten basic words. You probably learned these terms years ago, which is why we'll quickly review them: you may have forgotten their precise meanings. Again, you don't need to memorize any of the following definitions or examples.
- noun (hat, Canada, beaver, equality, apricot)
A noun is the name of a person, place, object, or concept. The ten most common nouns in the English language are time, year, people, way, man, day, thing, child, government, and work.
verb (run, throw, is, believe, investigated, had forgotten)
Verbs describe actions or states of being. The ten most common verbs are be, have, do, will, say, would, can, get, make, and go. Verbs have different tenses depending on whether the action is taking place (present tense), has taken place (past tense), or will take place (future tense).
adjective (bold, fast, solid, thin, funny)
Adjectives modify or describe nouns or pronouns. The ten most common adjectives are other, good, new, old, great, high, small, different, social, and important.
adverb (very, never, really, too, slowly)
Adverbs primarily modify verbs, but they can also modify adjectives and other adverbs. The ten most common adverbs are so, up, then, out, then, now, only, just, more, and also.
pronoun (it, I, you, them, her, something, himself, anyone, none, everybody)
Pronouns stand in the place of nouns to make our writing smoother and less repetitive. Because pronouns replace other words from which they are usually separated within or between sentences, it's important to verify that the various parts all agree. Pronoun problems account for more grammatical errors on the SAT than do problems with any other part of speech.
The subject of a sentence is what the sentence is about. (The rest of the sentence tells you something about the subject.)
If a noun or a pronoun receives the action of a verb (if something happens to that noun or pronoun), that word is the object of the verb.
- preposition (through, between, before, around, against)
Prepositions usually precede nouns and describe the relationship between things in space or time. The two most common prepositionsof and inappear more frequently on SAT grammar questions than all other prepositions combined. The next ten most-common prepositions are to, for, with, on, by, at, from, as, into, and about.
- phrase (in the middle, at the corner, of geese)
A phrase is a group of related words without a subject or verb. Phrases can act as the equivalent of adjectives, adverbs, and other parts of speech. The most important type of phrase for our purposes is the prepositional phrase, which begins, as you might expect, with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun. Phrases are best understood in relation to their grammatical cousins: clauses.
clause (it was early, because the dog barked)
A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and its verb. A clause can sometimes stand on its own as a complete sentence (as in the first example above) and sometimes not (as in the second example). Don't worry about the distinction between a phrase and a clause, or between different types of clauses. What's important for our purposes is that both phrases and clauses refer to related groups of words.
More on: SATs and Other Tests
From The RocketReview Revolution: The Ultimate Guide to the New SAT and the PSAT by Adam Robinson. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
If you'd like to buy this book, click here.