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Grammar help!!

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Replies to: Grammar help!!

  • QuantMechQuantMech Registered User Posts: 7,793 Senior Member
    Take a look at the University of Wisconsin, Madison site with their Writing Center's Style Guide:
    uw-madison writing center writer's handbook
    It's not really a big deal. But Strunk and White's Elements of Style contains sentences starting with "But."
  • crazybanditcrazybandit Registered User Posts: 1,735 Senior Member
    But however they choose to write, people are allowed to make their own decisions; as a result, many people swear by their writing methods.

    You can start a sentence with "but," but the way you used it and the way the sentence in question uses it is not desirable. Why break off the natural flow of the sentence, establish a pause with the semicolon, and continue on with "but" when you can just use a comma?
    Some people write with a word processor, typewriter, or a computer; but others, for different reasons, choose to write with a pen or pencil.

    Like in the above example, you can use "but" with a semicolon, but there's no reason for it. In this sentence, however, it is desirable because the clauses utilize multiple commas.


    Yes, you can start a sentence off with "and" and "but," but only in cases where it is desirable.
  • crazybanditcrazybandit Registered User Posts: 1,735 Senior Member
    Here is my source: Purdue OWL

    None only does this usage conform more with reasoning, but it is also more common.
  • QuantMechQuantMech Registered User Posts: 7,793 Senior Member
    The other issue, though, is whether ending a sentence with "however" is acceptable or not. There seem to be different views on this issue. For example, on the Boston College site "Tips for Writing History Papers," under the heading "III. Formal, Written English," students are advised, "never end a sentence with 'however.'" (This is item 8 on the list under III.)

    Tips For Writing History Papers - Boston College

    Could we agree that a better way to write the original sentence would be:
    Clause A; however, Rest of Clause B?

    I do agree that a comma before "but" would be the preferable usage. It's just a question of which solecism is worse.
  • crazybanditcrazybandit Registered User Posts: 1,735 Senior Member
    Could we agree that a better way to write the original sentence would be:
    Clause A; however, Rest of Clause B?

    I honestly don't know. I guess so. Answering the question is besides the point because the question is faulty to begin with. Examining each individual choice (as we were doing before) is more beneficial in terms of studying.
  • kaitlin01kaitlin01 Registered User Posts: 262 Junior Member
    I got the questions from the internet (some pdf file of SAT grammar questions) and there was no answer key. My source isn't a reliable benchmark for real SAT questions :D I was just curious if there was a "real" answer because like you guys, I was having a hard time deciphering the difference between some choices (the ;however vs. ;but and considering vs. in light of). Thanks for the detailed answer explanations by the way! :)
  • kaitlin01kaitlin01 Registered User Posts: 262 Junior Member
    NEW QUESTIONS!! These are from the blue book:

    1. On a hot day, I like to swim or sit in the shade.
    --> Why is it not "On a hot day, I like to swim or TO sit in the shade"? I thought there was supposed to be parallelism?

    2. Air pollution caused by industrial fumes [has been studied] for years, [but] only recently [has] the harmful effects of noise pollution [become] known.
    --> The error is "has". Why?

    3. The primatologist has argued that sustained observation of a few animals [provides better behavioral data than does intermittent observation of many animals].
    --> One of the choices was "[in contrast to intermittent observation of many animals, provides better behavioral data]" but the original one is correct. Why?

    4. Lions and tigers may be identical in size, but the tiger is the fiercer animal and the lion [the stronger].
    --> You don't need to put "one" to make it [the stronger one]? When do you need to make it clearer for comparison and when can you leave it out?

    5. The shift from traditional to cosmetic dentistry [is because adults are getting fewer cavities and becoming] more vain.
    --> The correct answer is "[is occurring because adults are getting fewer cavities and becoming]". I know it is the better answer, but out of curiosity, what's wrong with the original answer?

    6. In 1972, to reduce pollution in the Great Lakes, [limits were set by the United States and Canada] on the amount of phosphorus that could be discharged into Lakes Erie and Ontario.
    --> Is there something wrong here?

    Thanks!
  • kaitlin01kaitlin01 Registered User Posts: 262 Junior Member
    Oh and according to Gruber's, you should never start a sentence with "Due to...." Is that correct? Or a better question would be, is that TESTED? :D
  • porschedudeporschedude Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    1: the first part of the second clause is "I like to" not "I like"

    2: subject is "air pollution"

    3: "in contrast with" and there is nothing wrong with original sentence

    4: not sure, but you don't need one, and you want to keep it concise when possible

    5: there is no verb in the original sentence,

    6: technically nothing wrong, but if there was an answer choice that read "the United States and Canada set limits" I would be inclined pick that
  • crouch88crouch88 . Posts: 348 Member
    ^actually, in no.2 "Air pollution" is the subject for the first clause. In the second clause, "only recently [has] the harmful effects of noise pollution [become] known," "has" disagrees in number with the plural subject "harmful effects of noise pollution." So, "have" should have been used instead of "has." It is much easier to find errors in complex sentences/clauses if you rearrange the words in your mind to make them simpler. For instance, if you had turned the latter clause into "the harmful effects of noise pollution [has] [become] known only recently," you probably would have found it much easier to note the subject-verb disagreement.

    Also, for no. 5, "is" is a verb. I wish I could provide a normative explanation for the problem with the original sentence but I'm afraid don't know enough grammar rules to do so.
  • QuantMechQuantMech Registered User Posts: 7,793 Senior Member
    A few opinions on the sentences, with guidelines that are probably safe:

    5. "is because" is usually wrong. "Is" is a linking verb. The construction "A is B" should mean either that A and B are the same part of speech, being equated with each other, or that B modifies A (generally true, possibly some exceptions). In this sentence, the subject (A) is "shift." The clause starting out "because" states a reason. The shift is not a reason, the shift is happening for a reason.

    This explanation might make you think that "The reason is because . . . " is an acceptable construction, but the SAT writers definitely do not like it either. The correct form is "The reason is that . . ." I suspect that "reason" needs to be equated to a clause that functions as a noun, and "that" clauses do so, while "because" clauses essentially function as as adverbs. But more discussion on this would be welcome.
  • QuantMechQuantMech Registered User Posts: 7,793 Senior Member
    4. General rule, maybe? When two adjectives both modify the same fairly non-specific noun, such as "one," it is safe to elide the "one." The SAT writers are insistent on having parallelism in comparisons where--for example--one might be comparing the paintings of Rembrandt to Van Gogh. This is incorrect, as written. Here, the paintings of Rembrandt are not intended to be compared to Van Gogh himself, but rather to his work. In my opinion, it would be correct to compare the paintings of Rembrandt to Van Gogh's. In this case, you omit repetition of the word "painting," but it is understood, and "Van Gogh's" has the right form to modify it.
  • QuantMechQuantMech Registered User Posts: 7,793 Senior Member
    3. If there's nothing actually wrong with a sentence, and a suggested correction inserts a relatively lengthy element between the subject and the verb, the original sentence is probably preferable.
  • QuantMechQuantMech Registered User Posts: 7,793 Senior Member
    crouch88 handled the second sentence already.

    For the first sentence, your thinking that the constructions should be parallel is correct. I think that a second "to" would be required if "swim" were replaced by a much longer construction, so that it became less clear that "sit" and "swim" were the two options. Since there's nothing else intervening, it's ok to omit the second "to." Or so I surmise, if these came from the Blue Book.
  • QuantMechQuantMech Registered User Posts: 7,793 Senior Member
    6. Two possibilities:

    a) Active voice is preferable to passive voice, if both forms could be used. The original sentence is written in the passive.

    b) "To reduce pollution" states a goal. The U.S. and Canada set limits with the goal of reducing pollution. Reducing pollution is the goal of the people, and not the goal of the limits--the limits are just the means of implementation. So the infinitive phrase stating the goal would ideally be followed immediately by naming the goal-setters.
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