The 18 SAT Grammar Rules You Must Know

This cheat sheet summarizes every grammar rule that’s tested, in order of frequency. Each point lists common question variations and it’s your job to know how to correct them. There may be several ways to edit each sentence.

Confused by anything? Ask in the comments or pick up our SAT Writing book, which extensively covers all these rules and a lot more.

1. Subject-Verb Agreement

  1. The diner near the dorms which (houses/house) the students (serves/serve) breakfast all day.
  2. The widely recognized red coloring of stop signs everywhere (alerts/alert) people who can’t even read them to stop.
  3. Each team made up of one girl and one boy (has/have) to reenact a scene from Romeo and Juliet.
  4. Her jewelry, in addition to her pokemon cards, (was/were) stolen by the robber.
  5. Neither the employees nor the owner (cares/care) about the customer.
  6. Beside the bins, where one could smell the stench of rotten eggs, (was/were) a pack of philosophy majors gathering cans for recycling.

2. Pronoun Reference

  1. Whenever Jason and Alexander sit down at a buffet, he eats way more food.
  2. Even if a student gets in early, they still have to maintain good grades during senior year.
  3. At the police station, they found a pile of cash stashed in her bra.
  4. She always takes an hour in the bathroom, and this completely ticks me off!
  5. Although it is small and furry, koalas are able to protect themselves from predators by quickly climbing trees.

3. Run-Ons

  1. He was hungry, he bought a Chipotle burrito.
  2. In New York, the train system is difficult to learn, however, the food is fantastic and diverse.
  3. He believed that a career in nursing would guarantee a stable job, Joseph applied to medical school.

4. Modifiers

  1. The magician dazzled and surprised the audience members wearing a cloak and top hat.
  2. Decorated with colorful ornaments and stars, we took pictures by the Christmas tree.
  3. After missing an easy goal, the crowd booed the soccer player.

5. Parallelism

  1. I respect his eloquence and that he is brave.
  2. In chess, remember these three goals: get your pieces to the center, capture the opposing pieces, and attacking the opposing king.
  3. To learn what it means to love someone is accepting the flaws of others.

6. Tenses

  1. Although the cheetah holds the record for fastest land animal, many other mammals outlasted it.
  2. Whenever we stopped by the market, my mom always tries to negotiate the prices.
  3. Every Sunday, Jane cleans the house and does the laundry at the same time her dad could have mowed the lawn.

7. Sentence Fragments

  1. In the middle of the night, when most people are sleeping while I sneak to the kitchen to eat.
  2. Although pandas are one of the most likable mammals but are one of the most rare.

8. Shift in Point of View

  1. Even when we arrive ahead of time at the doctor's office, he makes you wait at least 15 minutes.
  2. If someone wants to play tennis, you should know how to serve.
  3. If one does not believe, you will not succeed.

9. Idioms

  1. The Olympic athlete was capable in climbing Mt. Everest.
  2. The public was opposed against the war.
  3. The children were prohibited against playing outside at dark.
  4. Unless you comply to those food safety standards, we will shut you down.

10. Redundancy

  1. The reason why red pandas have ringed tails is because they are relatives of both the giant panda and the raccoon.
  2. After hearing the spy's information, the general knew that an attack was imminent in the future.
  3. It's only on the night before the test that I wish my notes had been more clearer.
  4. The legal documents were reviewed in a way that was deemed thorough.
  5. We should evacuate the building immediately in the hypothetical event that a fire occurs.

11. Word Choice

  1. The startup didn’t become financially beneficial until it reached a critical mass of customers using the app on a daily basis.
  2. A recently passed law requires that public transportation meet new safety standards, forcing state governments to foot the bill for the construction of new railroads.
  3. Be careful when driving under averse weather conditions.
  4. It's easy to fool your brain with a few cleverly drawn diagrams called optical allusions.
  5. Please be discrete with what I tell you because you don't want these dark secrets to ever come out.

12. Commas

  1. Because she's been so busy I haven’t seen her in a month.
  2. His hobbies included jumping off planes, crashing helicopters and eating jellyfish.
  3. Great white sharks the most fearsome creatures of the sea are actually less dangerous than they appear.
  4. Stephen King's first novel Carrie was a surprise success.
  5. Crowds stood in line to see author, J.K. Rowling, at the bookstore in London.
  6. Lions are carnivorous or meat-eating mammals.
  7. Penguins unlike most other birds cannot fly.
  8. Most bats are blind. Their sense of hearing however is amazing.

13. Dashes

  1. When my teacher found the cookies I was hiding; all 154 of them; she ate them all herself.
  2. The city is full of people you would never meet in my hometown bums, actors, models, the crazy, the oddly dressed.
  3. I like to walk everyday—not for exercise—but for alone time.

14. Colons

  1. Tokyo is one of the cleanest cities in Asia, the street cleaners sometimes have no work to do.
  2. Cambridge is home to two of the best universities in the world MIT and Harvard.
  3. The dangerous animals you have to watch out for are: lions, tigers, and pythons.
  4. The evidence consists of: emails, text messages, and phone calls.

15. Apostrophes

  1. Tonys hat is on the floor.
  2. Louis' scarf is 3 feet long.
  3. Both players's jerseys were soaked with sweat.
  4. The book has a cool picture on it's cover.
  5. He is the actor whose most known for his role in Batman.
  6. Jake wasn't at the office, so he must of gone to the store.

16. Transitions

  1. Although women in cities from New York to Boston demanded equality in academic opportunities, most East Coast universities did not yield to such demands. In fact, coeducational balance did not become a prominent issue for East Coast admissions officers until the 1960s.

    B) In addition,
    C) For example,
    D) Be that as it may,

  2. As it turned out, Senator Aldrich did not plan his Jekyll Island trip for relaxation purposes. Therefore, he confidentially planned the weeklong affair to confer with Wall Street executives for a specific purpose—to draft a banking reform bill that would create a centralized American banking system.

    B) Nevertheless,
    C) Instead,
    D) Afterwards,

  3. Some conservatives claim that America was founded as a Christian nation by devout men who sought to establish a system of law and governance based on the Bible. More secular voices, in summary, have argued that the "Christian nation" concept is a misnomer.

    B) likewise,
    C) for instance,
    D) on the other hand,

17. Combining Sentences

  1. Since Joan took office as governor, some public issues have been solved in very clever ways. Others have been completely ignored.

    A) ways, whereas others
    B) ways, since others
    C) ways, provided that others
    D) ways, considering that others

  2. Jojoba oil is made from the seeds of jojoba plants. These plants are sometimes mistaken for boxwood shrubs.

    A) plants; these
    B) plants, for they
    C) plants, which
    D) plants as they

  3. Located near the abundant coasts of Maine, the town of Portland is a famous fishing port. That is where lobstermen set their traps in the early morning.

    A) port, which is where
    B) port, the location where
    C) port, a place at which
    D) port where

  4. The online retailer Amazon completely has changed how many consumers purchase goods. They managed to make the whole online buying and selling experience trustworthy and easy.

    A) goods; they made
    B) goods by making
    C) goods to make
    D) goods, and this made

18. Who vs. Whom

  1. Jane is the girl for who I brought these gifts.
  2. The chaperones who the students were assigned to made sure they walked in a single file.
  3. The librarian yelled at the boy whom never returned his books.