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Unit 11: Lesson 3

Writing: Grammar

Writing: Logical comparison — Example

Watch David work through an SAT Writing: logical comparison question.

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Video transcript

- [Announcer] "Some prefer Thai-style teas, "with their condensed milk, hint of anise, "and touch of food dye, to getting a conventional "American-style cup of coffee." So let's take a look at what this sentence is trying to do in order to determine what kind of question this is. As with everything, the first thing we can safely do is get rid of all the non-essential information. So we have this little descriptive aside bounded by commas, right? "With their condensed milk, hint of anise, "and touch of food dye," let's just, for our purposes, safely ignore that. So when we think about the sentence, what we're actually going to be perceiving is, "Some prefer Thai-style teas to getting a conventional "American-style cup of coffee." And for me, that helps make it a little clearer, because that shows me that we're looking at a logical comparison question. We're comparing Thai-style teas to, in this answer choice, "getting a conventional "American-style cup of coffee." What we have to do in a logical comparison question is compare like to like, in a phrase, comparing apples to apples. In order to make an effective and logical comparison for one of these questions, you have to be comparing two things that are similar enough to make a sensible comparison. If that makes sense. And it will, because we're gonna go through it. So, right now, option A is to leave it as it is, no change. And that is incorrect and I will tell you why. Because we're going to look at the nature of the comparison. We're comparing Thai-style teas to this whole thing, "getting a conventional American-style cup of coffee." Why do I think this is wrong? Well, Thai-style teas is just a little noun phrase, where as "getting a conventional "American-style cup of coffee" is a gerund phrase. See, this I-N-G verb is a gerund. It's a verb behaving as a noun. And I could see how this would be a tempting choice, right, like a gerund is, in its way, technically a noun, but what we're doing here is illogically comparing the experience of receiving a coffee, right, "getting a conventional "American-style cup of coffee," to the idea of Thai-style teas themselves, or teas as a category. Right? And that's not the same. That's not comparing apples to apples. That's comparing apples to a bowling ball. It's not the same thing. That could also be a coconut, but let's just say it's a bowling ball. It's not a logical comparison, it's two completely separate classes of thing. So what we're gonna wanna do, as we go through these answer choices, is eliminate those options that don't really compare Thai-style teas to an equivalent. Option B, "Some prefer Thai-style teas "to a conventional American-style cup of coffee." This, to me, seems to make sense. I'm gonna say this is my front runner right now, because it's not an experience, it's just another noun, it's an American-style cup of coffee, which contrasts neatly with Thai-style teas. But let's confirm that hunch by going on to option C and D, so option C, "brewing a conventional American-style cup of coffee," well, this repeats the same error as the original choice, "getting a conventional American-style cup of coffee," right, it's comparing the experience of brewing to the idea of teas, or to teas themselves. It's not the same. Option D, "being served a conventional "American-style cup of coffee," is awfully similar to answer A, "getting a conventional "American-style cup of coffee." And again, it's this gerund, this I-N-G word, right, and it's just not the same. We're not comparing an experience to a tea. We're trying to compare one hot beverage to another hot beverage. And ultimately, that's why I wanna go with option B, because it correctly compares a beverage to another beverage. And that's what you wanna do with a logical comparison question, is you want to compare like to like, apples to apples, not apples to bowling balls or coconuts. So you're looking for things within the same category to compare to one another, so that it makes sense.