Clear Relationship between Clauses
Another commonly tested grammatical area that you need to look out for in the SAT Improving Sentences section concerns the logical relationship between different parts of a sentence.
2. Logical relationship between parts of a sentence
2a. Run-on sentence
A run-on sentence is one that use comma to connect 2 independent clauses. Since independent clauses are complete on its own, they should not be joined together with a comma. They can be connected in 2 ways:
a) Use a semicolon or a colon.
- A semicolon suggests that the 2 independent clauses are grammatically separate but closely related (This solution is commonly used in the SAT).
- The whole school building was shaking; the students hid under their desks immediately.
- A colon separates an explanation or example from the preceding independent clause.
- Cooking is more than a mechanical mix of ingredients: it is an expression of taste and style.
b) Use a conjunction or a relative pronoun to make their relationship clear
After inserting a conjunction or a relative pronoun, you make the sentence a complex one. The clause which begins with a conjunction or a relative pronoun is no longer independent. It becomes the subordinate clause of the sentence. The other one is the main clause.
Conjunctions are commonly tested in the Improving Sentences section in 3 ways.
a) Use the right conjunction
The right conjunction should be used so that the relationship between the clauses is clear that the meaning of the sentence is expressed accurately. Pay attention if the relationship between the 2 clauses should be contrastive or non-contrastive.
b) Mix up coordination and subordination
A compound sentence has 2 independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction. The conjunction is called “coordinating” since the 2 clauses are equally important. On the other hand, a complex sentence has 1 independent clause (main clause) and 1 dependent clause (subordinate clause) joined together by a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun. These 2 clauses are not equally important. Students need to be able to decide if the 2 clauses in the sentence are equally important. Hence, decide if coordination or subordination should be used.
c) Use a subordinating conjunction in both clauses
When a subordinating conjunction is used in both clauses in a complex sentence, it is unclear which one is the main clause and which one is the subordinate. Only use a subordinating conjunction at the beginning of the dependent clause.
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(Next Tue: Improving Sentences cont’d)