SAT grammar rules

7 SAT Grammar Rules You Should Know

So, you’re all ready to study for the SAT Writing and Language Test. You grab a cup of tea, sit down at your desk, pull out your book of SAT grammar rules, open it up to the table of contents…and realize there are 984,120,392,382,938 billion rules in the English language!

Okay, so maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. But you get the idea—there are a lot. How are you going to cram all those rules in your SAT Cheat Sheet?

First, don’t worry! It would be unreasonable for Collegeboard to expect you to know them all. The folks that write the SAT pick and choose from only the most basic grammar concepts in the English language, and write questions based on these concepts.

That brings us to the big question: What grammar rules for SAT should you review? When researching how to prepare for the SAT, the amount of information can get overwhelming.

We’ve gone ahead and summarized all of the major SAT grammar rules you’ll be expected to know. Let this blog post be your one-stop shop for all your SAT grammar-related questions!

The verb must agree with the subject in number

The SAT writers love to test students on singular vs. plural form because it is one of the most basic grammar rules. In the sample sentence, “Companies are closing because of the pandemic,” the subject companies is considered plural that’s why the verb used is are.

You might think this is a walk in the park, right? Well, as it turns out, it’s not as easy as it sounds! Another example is the use of the word family. One might think that “family” is plural but it actually refers to a group of people. One group of people, to be exact. We also know that the word “family” is not plural, because the plural form of this word is “families.”

Prepositions

What’s a preposition, you ask? Don’t worry, a lot of people don’t know. Here’s a helpful list of common prepositions to help you out: of, in, to, for, with, on, at, from, by, about

Here are a few tips:

  • Learn each of these prepositions—when to use ’em and when not to use ’em.
  • Never end sentences with a preposition (such as in your essay).
  • Remember that prepositions turn the nouns that follow into objects (e.g. “me” or “him”).

Prepositional phrases do not change the number of the subject

Many test-takers forget one of the basic grammar rules for SAT. If the main subject is followed by a prepositional phrase, the verb will still agree with the subject and you will disregard the phrase after it. Below is an example:

Wrong: The teacher along with his students make interesting art for the upcoming exhibit.

Correct: The teacher along with his students makes interesting art for the upcoming exhibit.

Pronouns must be used properly

In using pronouns, it should agree with the subject in reference and in number. Refer to the sample sentence below:

Sally is a consistent honor student and she was awarded with Latin honors in her graduation.

Notice that the pronoun she agrees with the gender of the subject, Sally

In terms of the number of the subject, look at the sample below:

Michael, Alvin, and Adrian are on their way to their football practice when they coach called and canceled it.

Since there are three subjects, the pronouns used were their and they.

Having good grammar skills isn’t just important for the SAT. Many jobs for high school students require good grammar as well!

Faulty Comparisons

I like McDonald’s’ hamburgers since they’re much better than Burger King.

Whether or not you agree with that statement, you should be able to recognize that something isn’t quite right–since you’re such a fantastic test-taker. This another one of the grammar rules for SAT that you should keep in mind.

And as it turns out, the sentence we have mentioned is an example of faulty comparison.

What is a faulty comparison? It doesn’t mean that Burger King’s burgers are better; it essentially means that the sentence is comparing the wrong nouns. The sentence is supposed to be comparing the burgers of the two restaurants, but instead, it is comparing McDonald’s’  burgers with Burger King itself.

The sentence should read: I like McDonald’s’ hamburgers better than those of Burger King.

Use modifiers appropriately

To avoid dangling and misplaced modifiers, you have to make sure that the modifier you are using appears next to the word it modifies. For example:

Wrong: Being a very studious student, Algebra is very easy for Kim.

Correct: Being a very studious student, Kim finds algebra very easy.

I or Me?

This is one of the easy SAT grammar rules to learn, but you’ve probably heard it incorrectly a lot, so you might have to reprogram your mind. Take a look at the following sentence:

_____ and _____ went to the store.

Just think about the sentence for a second, “Him and me went to the store” might sound fine to you, but when you break apart the sentence and just have “me went to the store,” it starts to sound a little weird.

Or what about “Allow he and I to introduce Chester, the amazing lion”?

That breaks down to “Allow he to introduce,” which sounds weird, and “Allow I to introduce,” which also sounds weird. Instead, try “Allow him and me to introduce Chester, the amazing lion!” Just remember—if “I” or “me” can’t stand alone in the sentence without it sounding weird, then it’s probably wrong.

Are you interested in becoming a freelance writer? Find out how, in our blog article: How to Become a Freelance Writer!

Conclusion

Having proper grammar skills is one of the vital tips to improve your SAT essay!

Here’s a quick recap of the SAT grammar rules you should definitely look over:

  1. The verb must agree with the subject in number
  2. Prepositions
  3. Prepositional phrases do not change the number of the subject
  4. Pronouns must be used properly
  5. Faulty Comparisons
  6. Use modifiers appropriately
  7. I or Me?

For more SAT tips and tricks check out our blog!

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students design the life of their dreams by ensuring college, scholarship, and career success! I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, host of a career exploration podcast for teens, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. I invite you to join my next webinar to learn how to save thousands + set your teenager up for college, scholarship, and career success!
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