SAT Reading & Writing section grammar rules & elimination chart

From A+ Club Lesson Planner & Study Guide

SAT Digital Reading and Writing section quick start rules & elimination chart

  • the answers & eliminations follow set grammar, punctuation, and usage conventions
  • therefore, identify the rules as you practice & apply them in your elimination strategies
  • consider each possible answer and identify the RULES that govern its correctness or error:

* * page under construction **

Item Rule Rule/ Test
independent clause (IC) has a subject and verb and could be a sentence by itself subject and verb cannot be separated by a single comma
IC may contain multiple subjects and/or verbs and/or objects
IC may contain a parenthetical phrase or
multiple ICs are combined using comma + coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS)
main clause (MC) the primary idea of a sentence

must be an IC

if there are two IC, then there is no main clause (MC)
dependent clause (DC) has a subject and verb but cannot be a sentence by itself introduced by subordinating conjunctions, relative pronouns, etc.
dependent clauses modify the IC or add information to it dependent clauses are introduced by a subordinating conjunction or relative pronoun:
  • subordinating conjunction: since,
  • relative pronoun: that, which, who
DC types include subordinate (SC), relative (RC), noun (NC) and adverb clauses identify dependent clauses by the conjunction that introduces the dependent thought ("Since it's raining...")
subordinate clause SC introduced by a subordinating conjunction, such as because, when, which, etc. if following an IC, the subordinating conjunction "which" usually refers to the object of the prior IC
make sure the SC is not next to another SC (i.e, 2 SC's in a row is usually incorrect)
relative clause (RC) introduced by a relative pronoun (that, which, who, whom, which) relative clause has a subject (pronoun) & verb but is not an IC, as it serves to modify the IC
requisite RC = no punctuation if the information is essential (requisite) relative clauses may precede to modify a subject) or follow the verb (as part of the predicate)
non-requisite RC = sparated from other sentence part by a comma (not essential)
noun clause


a clause that acts as a noun
  • = can be a subject, object, subject complement or object of a preposition
NCs are often introduced by "what"
  • "What you think you know is wrong.
adverb clause


a clause that acts as an adverb

AC is a type of subordinate clause (SC)

  • answers "where, when, why and how" of a main clause
  • using SC such as "after, because, wherever, with", etc.
AC answers how, where, when, why

AC describes the action of the IC

  • "He used a credit card because he had no cash"
  • "She ate heartily after she swam"
prepositional phrase prepositional phrases are not subjects of a sentence preposition and noun = preposition phrase = modifies another noun
when identifying the subject of the sentence, ignore the prepositional phrase
introductory phrase gives context to a sentence, usually as a prepositional phrase not always separated from the subject by a comma, so be sure to identify/separate it from the subject
participial phrase

(or participle)

modifying phrase introduced by a verb acting as an adjective (participle) participial phrases
parenthetical phrases sometimes called "interrupters", used to add information outside of sentence flow marked by parentheses ( ... ) commas , ... , or dashes --. .. --
comma: identify if the comma is creating a list or acting parenthetically
dash: identify if the dash is acting as a colon or parentheses
appositive phrase a form of parenthetical phrase that provides additional information sets aside important information

may also conclude a sentence, thereby not technically parenthetical, ex.:

  • The author, an ornithologist, studies birds"
  • "The author specializes in ornithology, the study of birds"
tense subject-verb matching (conjugations) identify the subject and match the verb to the subject (conjugation or singular/plural)
subjects are never the noun in a prepositional phrase (object of the preposition)
conjugate the verb to identify 3rd person singular or plural ("it goes" v. "they go")
participle adjective verb acting as an adjective distinguish the action verb from a participle adjective
linking verbs "is"/ "are" (to be) are often followed by a past participle (subject complement adjective)
present particple adjective = "-ing" form of the verb
past participle adjective = "-ed" or other simple past tense of the verb
gerund noun verb acting as a noun with the -ing form of the verb the gerund noun can be a subject
redundancy repeats words or ideas already stated usually (but not always) the shortest answer is the correct answer if redundancy is the rule
pronoun is redundant or unecessary (note that comparisons and some other contexts require additional words)
punctuation type of clauses created by the sentence combination if two ICs are created, must be combined by a comma and coordinating conjunction (FANBOY)
if an IC and a SC are created, must be combined by a comma only
participial phrase participial phrases convert the verb of one of the sentences into a participle adjective
must be attached to an IC and combined with a comma only
>> TO DO
Transition words
Sentence placement