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Chris Lele

SAT Grammar

A lot can be said about SAT grammar. And I’m certain upon reading the word “grammar” shivers ran down your spine as you remembered that nit picky English teacher from middle school who liked to chide you over what you thought were inconsequential mistakes. Well, SAT grammar is like that nit picky teacher, but one who really knows what she’s talking about. There’s a lot of tricky SAT grammar that you’ll be surprised to know isn’t exactly how you think it is.

1. The ‘Me’

Almost all of us have at some time been chided by a grammarian, “Do not use ‘me’,” he or she intones. “Use ‘I,” he/she adds with supercilious aplomb.

Afterwards, we are scarred and so when we see ‘me’ on the SAT we reflexively think, “It’s wrong! I’m so happy I met that annoying grammarian.”

But don’t be so congratulatory. The rule is this: a preposition is followed by ‘me’ – not ‘I.’



Between you and me, I don’t quite mind all this grammar stuff.


Between you and I, I am an infallible grammarian who should not be challenged.


2. The Comma Splice

Here is the quick and fast rule—when you have two independent clauses (i.e. stand alone sentences) they cannot be joined by only a comma. Only if a comma is joined by a conjunction (for, and, yet, because, etc.) can it connect two independent sentences.



The dog began barking at midnight, and it continued making a ruckus well into dawn.


The dog began barking at midnight, it continued making a ruckus well into dawn.


Notice in the ‘incorrect’ sentence that the comma is alone, naked, pining for a conjunction. Again, when we have two sentences (1st Sent: The dog…, 2nd Sent: It continued), the comma must be accompanied by a preposition. When it is not, we have a comma splice.


3. Neither…nor

‘Neither’ is never used together with ‘or.’ Have a look:



Neither the boy nor the girl knew the answer.


Neither the boy or the girl knew the answer.


But we are not done with the neither…nor construction. There is one more twist that the SAT likes to test: the second subject (the one after ‘nor’) determines the verb. Whenever we use the 3rd person singular (e.g. he, she, it), the verb takes an ‘s.’



Neither the players nor the coach thinks the team will lose the upcoming game.


Neither the coach nor the players thinks the team will lose the upcoming game.


In the ‘incorrect’ example ‘players’ is plural and closest to the verb ‘think.’ Therefore, it should be the players think…



Being on guard against the grammar pitfalls discussed above can make the difference between a 560 and a 600 on the Writing Section. And knowing the above can help you stand up to that sneering grammarian, “No, kind sir…It’s actually ‘me.’”

Sure, this could definitely be a GRE question (though a very high-level one at that). There are so many different spins on probability that it would be difficult to come up with every single question and thus every possible permutation on a probability question. The key to this problem is you build off the formulae you learned from Magoosh to arrive at the answer. For a thorough rundown of all the grammar issues the SAT tests, check out Magoosh’s free SAT study guide!

P.S. Ready to get your highest SAT score? Start here.
About Chris Lele

Chris Lele is the GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh Online Test Prep. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 10 million views. You can read Chris's awesome blog posts on the Magoosh GRE blog and High School blog! You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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