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23/08/2011

Correct and Effective Standard Written English

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  • Ally

    Ally

    自小熱衷鑽研英語、分享心得,酷愛研究遣詞用字、文法活用,討厭硬記生吞詞彙生字、死記爛背文法規則。自有一套獨特的英語教學方法——「語境技巧」(Context Approach) ,著重語境理解及語文邏輯,達到有效表達和溝通。慨歎學生過於考試主導(exam-oriented)、死操試題、不求甚解,欲藉著學生爭取優異成績的鬥志,驅動學生有效地應付英語公開試,同時提升英語水平,求分數同時求學問。

    大學畢業後即任會考及高考班英文老師,現為資深英文導師及英語專欄作家,熟悉各大英語公開試,例如:SAT, IELTS, TOEFL, HKCEE, HKASLE, HKDSE。

    進攻SAT

Improving Sentences

  Out of the 49 multiple-choice questions in the SAT writing section, there are 25 questions of Improving Sentences. This sub-section is more difficult than Identifying Sentence Errors since it does not only require students to find the correct expression but also the most effective one.


Format


  Below is the instruction given in the Improving Sentences section. Read it carefully, especially the parts highlighted in blue. The instruction is the same as that in the actual SAT, so do not waste time reading it in the exam center.

 

 

Choice A is always the same as the original expression, so you do not need to read choice A. Choose A if you think the sentence is correct. Usually, there are 5 correct sentences.


Requirements

 

From the instruction above, you can see that the task requires you to choose an answer which is both correct and effective:

 

  • Correct


That is grammatically correct. The option you choose need to follow the requirements of standard written English. 

  • Effective


An effective sentence is one that is clear and precise, without awkwardness or ambiguity. It logically and clearly conveys the writer’s intended meaning.


Common problem areas


Remember the writing section is well-structured with inter-related sub-sections. You will need to apply the skills you have learnt in one sub-section to the others. Thus, as you are improving one sub-section, you are improving the others as well. Improving Sentences is crucial for recognizing and developing sophisticated techniques for expressing your ideas effectively in your writing.

 

 

In the Improving Sentences section, you need to look out for the 11 grammatical mistakes I have discussed in the Identifying Sentence Errors section, especially disagreement in number, pronoun without specific referent, wrong choice of relative pronoun, parallelism and dangling participle.

 

Together with the 11 grammatical mistakes, the following list covers almost all the areas tested in this sub-section. Do familiarize with them. When you are on the lookout for these, you can identify the most effective sentence much more quickly. Some of the items below have the same name as the grammatical areas mentioned in Identifying Sentence Errors. It is, however, worth mentioning them again either because their specific areas of concerns are different in this section or they are frequently tested.

 


Logical principles

 

When a sentence is clear and effective, it follows the logical principles below. (I will apply them in my discussion of the 6 areas above in the coming articles.)

  • Principle of consistency


Different parts of a sentence are consistent in number and parallel in forms so that readers can relate the different parts to each other easily and follow the flow of ideas smoothly.

 

  • Principle of proximity


The more closely related the parts, the more closely they should be placed. The reason why we write, for example, “a handsome plant expert” is that “plant” is the objective nature of his expertise while “handsome” is a subjective quality of him. Hence, “plant” should be placed more closely to “expert” than “handsome”.

 

  • Principle of clarity


The relationship between different parts of a sentence is clear and precise when the sentence is not open to more than one interpretation (ambiguity).

 

Approach

 

  • Read the entire sentence quickly to get an idea of what it intends to say.

 

  • First see if the underlined part commits any of the 11 grammatical errors. Determining if the sentence is erroneous is easier than judging if it is effective.

 

  • Eliminate all the choices that have the same errors. (Remember choice A is the same as the original sentence.)

 

  • See if the remaining choices have other grammatical errors. If so, eliminate them.

 

  • Compare the final remaining choices to determine which one is the most effective. Look out for the 6 common problem areas above.

 

  • Read each of the choices along with the entire sentence since this section mainly focuses on effectiveness of the sentence as a whole.


If you have any questions or enquires, feel free to visit my facebook page: www.facebook.com/allylo.english.

(Next Tue: Improving Sentences cont’d)

 

 

 《經濟通》所刊的署名及/或不署名文章,相關內容屬作者個人意見,並不代表《經濟通》立場,《經濟通》所扮演的角色是提供一個自由言論平台。

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