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Grammar Mistake Petting Zoo

  • The Multiple-Choice Grammar portion of the Writing section tests your understanding of grammar. To do your best, you need to have a good understanding of various grammar mistakes.
  • This is not a complete list! While this covers most of the common mistakes, there are others as well. If you want a more comprehensive list or to explore them in more depth, check out the SAT Writing-specific lessons on
  • Subject-Verb Agreement: The subject and a verb in a sentence must match each other. Ex: "John loves ice cream, but his parents love broccoli."
  • Verb Tense: The actions in a sentence must happen in a consistent time. If something happens in the past, the verb should use past tense. Ex: "Right now I'm at my house. Earlier, I ran home. Later, I will go shopping."
  • Noun-Pronoun Agreement: Pronouns replace nouns in a sentence. But they have to match up with each other! Be especially careful about the difference between singular and plural. Ex: "Each of the dinosaurs we polled supports an anti-meteor system." [Notice: Even though `dinosaurs' is plural, we use `supports' (used for singular subjects). This is correct because `each' uses the singular. Compare to "Dinosaurs support an anti-meteor system."]
  • Pronoun Case: The case (object or subject) must also line up with the pronoun. Is the subject doing the acting? Or is it being acted upon? Ex: "My dog is going to the dance with you and me."
  • Parallel Structure: Once a grammatical pattern becomes established, it needs to be carried through the rest of the sentence. Ex: "Eva likes reading, writing, and painting."
  • Run-On Sentences: Formally, a run-on sentence is a sentence that contains multiple independent clauses without properly joining them together. But on the SAT, you can just think of it as a sentence that tries to say too much or uses too many words to say something. Instead, you want sentences that are not overly confusing and that get to the point. In general, shorter is better.
  • Idioms/Prepositions: The same verb can mean different things depending on the preposition to which it connects. Knowing which preposition means what is mainly a matter of experience, so be prepared to rely on whether or not it "feels" right. Ex: "When I broke up the fight, the two combatants broke down and cried."
  • Read Carefully: Sometimes the error is really simple, but hard to notice if you're hurrying through the text. Be careful and pay attention to what you're reading! The mistake can be obvious, but hard to see at first glance. Incorrect Example: "At the vampire poker game, the steaks were very high."

Grammar Mistake Petting Zoo

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Legal Disclaimer 0:07
  • Introduction 0:16
  • Subject-Verb Agreement 1:32
    • Verb Conjugation
    • Example 1
    • Example 2
  • Verb Tense 5:08
    • Past, Present, Future
    • Example 1
  • Noun-Pronoun Agreement 6:28
    • Pronoun Replaces a Noun
    • Example 1
    • SAT Won't Give an Error That Obvious- Sentences Will Separate the Noun and Pronoun With Other Clauses
    • Singular vs. Plural
    • Intervening Clauses Can make it More Difficult
    • Words Behave Like a Normal Singular Noun Both for Verb Conjugation and for Possession Reference
  • Pronoun Case 14:48
    • Pronouns with Subject or Object Case
    • Example
    • Pay Attention to What Happens in the Sentence
    • Example 1
    • Example 2
  • Parallel Structure 20:21
    • Once a Pattern Becomes Established, It Needs to Be Carried Through the Rest of the Structure
    • Example
  • Run-On Sentences 21:01
    • A Run-On Sentence Contains Multiple Independent Clauses
    • Example
    • On The SAT, the Sentence Just Tries to Say Too Much
  • Idioms/ Prepositions 23:15
    • Idiom = Combination of Words That means Something Different From What the Words Would Literally mean
    • Examples
    • SAT Does Not Use These Kinds of Idiomatic Phrases
    • SAT Tests on the Idiomatic Usage of Prepositions
    • Knowing Which Preposition Means What is Mainly a Matter of Experience
  • Read Carefully 28:40
    • Sometimes the Error is Very Simple, But Hard to notice If You're Rushing Through
    • Example
    • Error Sounds Like What We're Used to Hearing, But Is Incorrect When Written Out