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SAT (Fall 2023)

Course: SAT (Fall 2023) > Unit 11

Lesson 3: Writing: Grammar

Writing: Sentence Boundaries — Example 1

Watch David work through an SAT Writing: Sentence Boundaries question.

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Video transcript

- "Letizia Ortiz, the Queen of Spain, was born into a middle-class Spanish family and worked as a broadcast journalist for many years before meeting Prince Felipe. The couple have two daughters, Leonor and Sofia." Glancing at the underlined section and looking at these answer choices, "no change". "Felipe comma the". "Felipe period the". "Felipe and". I'm feeling like this is a sentence boundaries question. It could be the case that there are, in fact, two sentences hidden within this passage here, and we have to crack them in half, find the best way to do that, to separate them in a legally grammatical way. Or it could be the case that we don't need to make a change, so let's investigate. "No change". I'm going to tell you straight off the bat. This isn't going to work. Let's go through why. What we have here is two independent clauses. Here's the first one, "Letizia Ortiz", and let's cross out all the unnecessary details, so these asides, bounded by commas, "Queen of Spain", right? All we need to determine whether or not it's an independent clause is a subject, right here, and a verb. So, we've got "Letizia Ortiz was born and worked." Right? Then, after that, "before meeting Prince Felipe". That's important to the context of the sentence but it's not actually that important to the structure of the sentence to form an independent clause. So, we've got our clause here. "Letizia Ortiz was born and worked." Check. Now, we're going to have to look for another subject, another verb. And we've got "the couple". That's another subject. And "have". So, we know that we've got two sentences here, two independent clauses. So that means we can't just have nothing between "Prince Felipe" and "the" because this is the start of a new sentence. If we left it alone, it would just be a run-on. And that's not grammatical. Similarly, that means we can also cross off option B, "Felipe comma the", because you can use a comma to unite two independent clauses but only if you also use what's called a fanboy conjunction, or a fanboys conjunction, and that's For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, and So, and these can only be used... These conjunctions can only be used in conjunction with a comma. So, it would be "Felipe comma and the couple". This means that we can't accept option D, because it's just a conjunction and if you're combining two independent clauses, like "Letizia Ortiz was born and worked" and "the couple have", you need to have a comma here. Right? "And" is a fanboys conjunction, so it has to be comma plus fanboys. So this isn't an option either. This leaves us with option C, the correct answer. We know it's the correct answer because it's got a period. This correctly separates the two sentences from one another, starts a new sentence, capitalizes the first letter. That's how we know. So, when you've identified a sentences boundaries question, you can eliminate those answers that create grammatically incorrect sentences. So, for example, option B gives you what's called a comma splice, when you use just a comma to unite two independent clauses. Option A is a run-on sentence, as is option D. Option C is your only option here.