A key to Scoring High on the GMAT
One of the most common errors in Sentence Correction on the GMAT is an incorrect, or dangling, modifier. These modifiers are often hard to detect. However, it is crucial to detect them if you want to score high on the GMAT. This blog attempts to eliminate confusion and frustration of students who are familiar with dangling modifiers.
What are Dangling Modifiers, or "Danglers"?
A dangler is a phrase that is used at the start of a sentence to describe something, but that something is not the subject doing the main action of the sentence. Since dangling modifiers don't attach to what comes right after them, they "dangle." The result is that they can be read as describing the subject of the sentence when they actually don't, which can be funny or just confusing. Let's see some examples.
The Usual Suspect
Watch out for an ing word if it's near the front of a sentence. Most likely, it is a dangling modifier. To find it, ask a whodunit question. Who is doing the talking, reading, singing, walking, etc? You may be surprised by what you find. Often, the danglers are participles.
With Present Participles
With Past Participles
With Prepositional Phrases
Often prepositions, a words that show position or direction, can lead your astray.
Pin the Tail on the Donkey
Often adjectives get pinned to the wrong part of a sentence and become danglers.
Hitch your Wagon
A dangling adverb at the front of a sentence is similar to a horse that's hitched to the wrong wagon. Such adverbs are easy to spot because they often end in 'ly'. When you see one, make sure it is hitched to the right verb.
The Infinitive Trouble
Some of the hardest danglers to see begin with to.A sentence that starts with an infinitive (a verb usually preceded by to, like to say, to laugh) cannot be left to dangle. The opening phrase has to be attached to whoever or whatever is performing the action.
Can't find a dangler? It might hiding as a 'like' or as an 'unlike'. Consider this likely example.
Source: Woe is I, by Patricia T. O'Conner
Image from Pixabay
The SAT Writing and Language section will test you on your knowledge of punctuation. Often students are unprepared especially if grammar has not been emphasized in school. Unfortunately, more and more schools are not teaching grammar. However, it is essential you understand grammar rules if you want to score high on the SAT.
What is a Comma Splice?
When a comma alone is used to separate two independent clauses, the result is known as a comma splice. Comma splices are always incorrect.
Can you detect a Comma Splice?
How to fix a Comma Splice?
Comma splices are often signaled by the construction comma + pronoun. Let's try to fix the above sentences. There are many ways to do it, and the SAT does not prefer any specific method. Some questions will require you to correct them with a period, while others will require you to fix them using a semicolon, a comma with FANBOYs, or even another formulation.
Incorrect: Potatoes are used in many different cuisines, farmers around the world grow many varieties of them.
Incorrect: My family bakes cakes and cookies on weekends, we then sit around and enjoy everything we make together.
Incorrect: I didn't like the movie, it was way too long.
Another option is to turn one of the independent clauses into a dependent clause, often by using a subordinating conjunction like, because, while, or although. We just saw an example above when we used 'because'.
You can also combine sentences with participles (-ing) to create dependent clauses.
Incorrect: Tomatoes were originally small, they became large only recently.
Correct: Tomatoes were originally small, becoming large only recently.
We can fix comma splices by:
Practice Makes Perfect
Here are some sentences you can test your understanding of how to fix comma splices.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.