5 Scary Grammar Rules to Watch Out for on the SAT or ACT
When it comes to editing, taking a moment to reflect on how something sounds can help you troubleshoot some common errors. Unfortunately, not every grammar question can be solved simply by sounding it out; there are some sentences that may sound “right”, but fall short when it comes to proper grammar.
If you are planning on taking the SAT or ACT, it’s important that your understanding of grammar is up to par. Keep reading to learn more about five grammar rules that are so easy to miss, they almost seem scary.
The Dangling Modifier
The dangling modifier is a prime example of a sneaky grammar rule. The phrase refers to a sentence in which a clause meant to modify a person or thing doing the action (the subject) is actually describing something else. The word dangling is used to connote the description’s distance from the subject itself.
Wrong: Despite feeling fine, the nurse insisted that Jane stay in the hospital overnight.
Right: Despite feeling fine, Jane was required to stay in the hospital overnight.
Fewer vs. Less
Determining when to use fewer and when to use less requires a little thinking. For countable nouns, or objects that can be quantified, the correct choice is fewer while less is the go-to option for things that cannot be counted. There are two important exceptions to this rule: time and money. For example, “I have less time for my hobbies now that I’m working full time”, or “I make less money than I used to, but I love my new job”.
Wrong: There are less students in my English class than in my biology class.
Right: There are fewer students in my English class than in my biology class.
Apostrophes may be a small punctuation mark, but they can change the meaning of a sentence in a big way. Remember that they are used to show possession or create a contraction and that they should never be used before an ‘s’ to pluralize a noun. In order to show possession, an apostrophe is placed after a noun to indicate that something belongs to someone or something else. Take extra caution when using apostrophes in two contraction words, “it’s” and “who’s”. Both of these words sound the same as other words (respectively its and whose), but have different meanings.
Wrong: I always have soccer practice on Wednesday’s and Friday’s.
Right: I always have soccer practice on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Affect vs. Effect
The difference between these two words can be confusing to many people, but knowing which one to use is actually simple. Affect is a verb, something that someone does, while effect is a noun, or an actual thing.
Wrong: Caffeine barely effects me. I can drink lots of coffee and not feel any different.
Right: Caffeine barely affects me. I can drink lots of coffee and not feel any different.
Parallelism refers to the idea that all items in a list should be in the same form, such as activities that end in ‘ing’. While there might not be anything technically wrong with sentences without parallel structures, those that follow this rule often sound much better.
Wrong: In the summer, I like hiking, swimming, and to go to the beach.
Right: In the summer, I like hiking, swimming, and going to the beach.
By learning more about these five easy-to-miss rules, answering tricky grammar questions on the ACT or SAT will become manageable, not scary. If you are looking for extra guidance throughout your test preparation process, our team of expert tutors can guide you in the right direction.