Sunday, November 11, 2012

SAT Question: Appositive Feedback



Shane writes:
Hi Snarky. Yesterday's SAT Question of the Day is my nightmare. I always get this kind of question wrong, because I don't understand why one sentence is better than the others. Please help.
No problem, Shane. Let's break it down. Here's yesterday's question:


Part or all of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.
Clara Barton founded the American branch of the Red Cross, a nurse who was sometimes called the "angel of the battlefield."
A) Clara Barton founded the American branch of the Red Cross,
B) The founder of the American branch of the Red Cross was Clara Barton,
C) It was Clara Barton founding the American branch of the Red Cross,
D) Clara Barton, who founded the American branch of the Red Cross, she was
E) In founding the American branch of the Red Cross, Clara Barton was

To nail down this type of question, you need to understand how the appositive works. An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that re-identifies the noun that comes immediately before or after it. In other words, an appositive clarifies the noun by adding more information.

My mother is talking to our neighbor, a widow who lives two blocks away. The phrase 'a widow who lives two blocks away' is an appositive. It gives extra information about the noun 'our neighbor'.

If the information is not crucial to the meaning of the sentence, it is called a non-restrictive appositive. (If you can remove the appositive and the sentence still makes sense, it's non-restrictive.) My mother is talking to our neighbor. That sentence is perfectly fine without the appositive, so it's non-restrictive.

A non-restrictive appositive is always set off from the noun with a comma, so you often see a structure that looks like (a) noun + comma + appositive or (b) appositive + comma + noun.

Two important things to remember are that (a) the noun must relate to the appositive, and (b) the noun and the appositive must come immediately before and after the comma.

In the SAT question, the appositive is 'a nurse who was sometimes called the "angel of the battlefield."' Whom does the appositive describe? Clara Barton. There's your noun.

So now we can significantly narrow down the options. Only Choice B would put Clara Barton immediately before the comma that's followed by the appositive.

Note that Choice E also uses the appositive. In that sentence, the order is appositive + comma + noun. The sentence is illogical, however, since it implies that Barton's being a nurse was a result of her founding the American Red Cross.

The best answer is Choice B.

6 comments:

  1. how amazing this blog.
    Please also visit my blog at http://grammartoefl.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think I will be visiting here very often guys. I’m sure you had lots of very informative web contents. I will give this blog an A+ rating as your contents are really awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Reading is good "Passive" way of improving vocabulary, but when you are resorting to making lists, that is "Active" method. Problem with active method of learning words is that it is cumbersome and boring, and you doing retain and unless you use it in writing sentences to apply the word, very little chance is that you increase your lexical size.
    Improve Your Vocabulary - VocabMonk is an active learning tool which is personalised and makes sure you grasp the learnt words by applying it. It is lot of fun too as you can play vocab challenges with your friends.
    Give it a shot!

    ReplyDelete
  4. A superb vocabulary is not something that can be easily reached. You must be patient, determined and always ready to learn and grow. Vocabulary is tested not only on the SAT, but in everyday life. Vocabulary is certainly a direct correlation to the overall intelligence.
    To get a taste of superb vocabulary which is gained through practice get connected to https://vocabmonk.com.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's a amazing blog for a good information. It's seem that many people reading your blog because you are sharing a wonderful post on your blog. Thanks for sharing useful information.

    GMAT coaching in Chennai

    GMAT training Chennai

    ReplyDelete