Tips for the SAT Writing: Subject-Object & Ambiguous Pronoun
Being able to identify the subject and the object of a sentence is an essential skill on the SAT. This is simple in some cases:
Brian cooked dinner.
In this example, the subject is Brian because he is the person/thing performing the verb cooked. The object of the sentence is dinner because it is the person/thing that the verb is acting upon.
However this concept becomes more complicated. On the SAT, you will frequently see sentences such as:
The teacher awarded Sarah and I the highest grades in the class.
In this example, I should be changed to me. This is because the subject of the sentence is the teacher and the students being given the highest grades are the objects. We use I in the case of a subject and me in the case of an object. This can be somewhat difficult to grasp because although it is correct, many people do not speak and write this way.
One of the most challenging aspects of succeeding on the SAT Writing section is undoing bad grammatical habits that we have accumulated. A trick that can make this much easier is to take out any second objects that the sentence may have and then re-read it. In the example above, you can take out Sarah. We would never say:
The teacher awarded I the highest grade in the class.
When this technique is used, it is clear that we need to change the sentence to:
The teacher awarded Sarah and me the highest grades in the class.
Simplifying the sentence in this way is a very powerful strategy because it allows you to see how the sentence works more clearly.
An ambiguous pronoun is a pronoun that leaves the reader unsureof what it is referring to. For example,
The waiter offered Michael coffee and tea, but he refused both because it often gives him headaches.
In this sentence, it is unclear whether it is meant to refer to coffee or tea. This problem can be solved by indicating by name (either coffee or tea) which object is being referred to.
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