Hyanas resting at Busch Gardens in Tampa FL

Tampa SAT Writing Tutor: Dangling Participles

Posted on 27th May 2011 in Tampa SAT Preparation, Tampa Writing Tutor

Tampa SAT Writing Tutor Hints: Dangling Participles

To do well on the writing section of the SAT, you need to understand dangling participles.
Dangling participle sounds like a painful medical condition, but it’s really an easily corrected writing error.
A participle is a word made from a verb and used as an adjective.
Because participles are made from verbs, they look like verbs and have verb endings (–ed,-en,-t,-ing).  However, participles modify nouns and pronouns because they’re really adjectives.
If that explanation is clear as mud, maybe a few examples will help make it clearer.
I watched the laughing hyenas. (What kind of hyenas? Laughing is a participle that functions as an adjective.)
Hyenas resting at Busch Gardens in Tampa FL

This image of hyenas at Busch Gardens in Tampa, FL, created by Dr. Neil Turner and licensed under (CC BY-ND 2.0). See more of Dr. T's photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/neillturner/

The collapsed mineshaft was dangerous. (What kind of mineshaft? Collapsed is a participle that functions as an adjective describing bridge.)
The stolen motorcycle was recovered by detectives. (What kind of motorcycle? Stolen is a participle that functions as an adjective describing the motorcycle.)
He ate the burnt hash browns covered in ketchup. (What kind of hash browns? Burnt is a participle that describes the noun hash browns.)
Like adjectives, participles are usually found in front of the nouns they modify. Sometimes, though, a participle can be found after the noun it modifies.
The children smelled the cookies baking. (Which cookies? The cookies baking. In this sentence, baking is a participle that functions as an adjective modifying cookies.)


A participle dangles if it can’t logically modify the noun closest to it.
I saw the house peeking through the trees.
The participle phrase peaking through the trees attaches itself to the nearest noun, house. Because the house can’t possibly peek through the trees, the participle dangles.
This dangling participle can be corrected easily.
Peeking through the trees, I saw the house.
Let’s try another.
Rushing to catch the train, Bo’s wallet fell out of his shirt.
What does the participle Rushing to catch the train modify? Not Bo’s wallet, right? It modifies Bo.
Rushing to catch the train, Bo lost his wallet when it fell from his shirt pocket.
Now Bo, not his wallet, is rushing to catch the train.
Notice that when the sentence starts with a participle phrase, the participle phrase is followed by a comma. After the comma comes the noun or pronoun that does the action described in the participle phrase.

Dangling Participle SAT Writing Question

On the writing part of the SAT, you might see a sentence correction question like this one:
Racing to the airport, Jane’s desire was not to miss her flight to the Galapagos Islands.
a) Racing for the airport, Jane’s desire was not to miss her flight to the Galapagos Islands.
b) The airport being raced for, Jane was not desiring to miss her flight to the Galapagos Islands.
c) Racing to the airport, so Jane would not miss her flight to the Galapagos Islands.
d) Racing to the airport, Jane had no intention of missing her flight to the Galapagos Islands.
e) Being that she raced to the airport, Jane’s desire did not intend to miss her flight to the Galapagos Islands.
The original sentence has a dangling participle because Jane’s desire can’t race to the airport. Only Jane can race to the airport. So the only possible correct answers to this question will have Jane immediately after the comma that follows the participle Racing to the airport.
Only choices b and d correct the dangler, and d is the better of the two.
I help students improve their scores on the reading and writing portions of the SAT. If you or a student in your family needs help, please call me.  I’m Tampa SAT tutor Eric Anderson and can be reached at 813.787.8959.
This post was written by freelance blogger Darnell McCray. If you need help creating posts for your blog, you can reach Darnell by e-mail at dmccray59@yahoo.com.
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2009 German Federal Hortocultural Show

Tampa FL French and German Tutor

Posted on 25th May 2011 in Tampa English Tutor

Every now and then I make a new friend because of my tutoring business.

As you may have guessed already, my new friend tutors French and German.

Here is John Houston’s French and German Tutor bio:

I am a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who spent 20 years in the intelligence business mostly in Washington, DC. During that time, I used my French and German language skills nearly every day since I was working issues related to the NATO Alliance. I lived in Germany for over three years and have traveled extensively throughout Europe.

2009 German Federal Hortocultural Show

This photo taken by Harald Hoyer. http://www.harald-hoyer.de/ Image licensed under CC SA by2.0

After returning to Washington, I made several trips back to Paris, Bonn and Vienna on official government business, meeting with U.S. Defense Attaches at American embassies. The Defense Department sent me to DLI (Defense Language Institute) in Monterrey, California. Foreign languages have always been a favorite subject of mine

I teach both French and German to high school students in Hillsborough County, Florida. I bring not just a thorough understanding of the technical aspects of the language -grammar, verbs, sentence structure- but also a special insight into the history, culture and people of the country.

Having visited France well over a dozen times and lived in Germany, I have experience and perspective that most Americans will never gain. This is how what I bring, what I offer, is so different from the tutoring that you might get from a language teacher who graduated from a U.S. college and went straight into teaching…I’ve been in these countries, I’ve lived there, I’ve spent time among the people…I know these places like most Americans never will.

This makes the quality of the teaching experience different and better because the student does not learn just the language, but he or she learns the country…its place in history, its relations with the United States, its people and its culture.

There is more to learning a language than conjugating verbs and putting sentences together. I offer the whole experience to students…an understanding not just of the language but of the country and of its people as well. Get in touch with Tampa FL French and German Tutor John Houston at jshous@gmail.com.

If you need him, don’t wait because he is only taking a limited number of students this summer.

This post written by Eric Anderson. Eric tutors English, history, SAT Critical Reading and writing, and ACT English. Call him at 813.787.8959.

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White letter M casting shadow

Tampa Writing Tutor: What is an em Dash?

Posted on 19th May 2011 in Tampa Writing Tutor

Rappers know what an Eminem dash is.

Fat kids know what an M&M dash is.

But, what, in God’s green Earth, is an em dash?

An em dash is a dash that is the width of an m.

In informal writing, em dashes may replace commas, semicolons, colons, and parentheses to indicate added emphasis, an interruption, or an abrupt change of thought. Use an em dash sparingly in formal writing, or you’ll seem as breathless as a pre-teen girl backstage at a Justin Beeber concert.

White letter M casting shadow

This image created by Dutch graphic designer marcel van den berg. Licensed under CC by SA 2.0. See more of his work at http://m-space.nl/

Similar to an extended hyphen (-), an em dash is used to show a break in thought or a shift of tone.  It provides more emphasis than a comma, colon, or semicolon.

And it’s way more fun at a party.

Em Dash Examples

1.  I wash the clothes—you wash the car.

2.  Judge Judy, I paid the bills—all of the bills—during the time we were together.

3. The car—a red Porsche Boxster—was double parked for an hour before the police came and towed it. away.

How to Make the Em Dash

Tell it that the N is after it.

Make the em dash in MS Word by holding down the “Ctrl” and “Alt” keys while you push the minus sign (—) on the number pad. The minus sign is in the upper right-hand corner of the number pad.

Incorrect Use of the Em Dash

Review your notes and read Chapters 4—5 for Wednesday’s final.

The em dash should not be used to denote a range of value when referring to dates, times, or numbers. Use the sleeker, sexier en dash instead. The en dash is the width of an n.


This post written by Eric Anderson, The Tampa Writing Tutor. Call Eric at 813.787.8959. M&M is a registered trademark of a large company that in no way endorses this blog or me or any of my friends.


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Fishing boats in Port Jefferson harbor

How two of my childhood friends made perfect SAT scores

Posted on 17th May 2011 in Tampa PSAT Tutoring, Tampa SAT Preparation

I grew up in Port Jefferson, New York. You can’t hear any New York in my spoken English, but I went to grade school and Junior High School in Port Jeff.  A few years later, two of my Junior High classmates made perfect scores on their SATs. In those days, the SAT had only two parts, so a perfect score was 1600: 800 Math and 800 Verbal.

When I first met Andrew and Eddie, I didn’t know them well enough to understand why they were the best students in the school’s they attended.

Once, I became friends with them, I learned exactly how they did it.

Fishing boats in Port Jefferson harbor

This photo taken by John Blyberg and licensed under CC by 2.0. Learn more about Darian Library's SuperGeek at http://www.blyberg.net/

Their father was a professor at SUNY Stoneybrook. When the bell rang on the last day of school in June, I snuck off to play golf, play sandlot baseball, and fish for snapper.

Andy and Eddie reported for a private summer school that covered all of the material they would learn in the coming school year. It was taught by their father and kept them busy until early afternoon every day of the summer.

If you have aspirations for your child to excel on the SAT, I can help you. I’m teaching a private course this summer that will cover the critical reading and writing portions of the SAT.I can refer you to some of Tampa’s most capable SAT math tutors.

The summer before last, I worked with a few students to prepare them for the PSAT. All three of the students who worked with me scored well enough to be considered for National Merit Scholarships (the top half of the 99th percentile). They went on to excel on the SATs last year because of the foundation that they put in place over the summer.

I offer one-on-one, private SAT tutoring in home or at the local library. There is no requirement to prepay or to sign an agreement for a set number of SAT tutoring sessions.

If you would like help preparing your son or daughter to excel, call me at 813.787.8959 or e-mail eanderson@tampabay.rr.com. He I have tutored students from Wharton, Sickles, Berkeley, Jesuit, Academy at the Lakes, and King High School’s International Baccalaureate Program.


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Dorset Tower view of the lake Ontario, Canada

Tampa Tutor ACT Success Story

Posted on 13th May 2011 in Tampa ACT Preparation

I just got some great news from a parent of one of my students. He scored in the 98th percentile on the ACT! He writes well, understands grammar fully, and reads swiftly with high comprehension. I’m elated that his ACT score reflects his ability and his work.

Dorset Tower view of the lake Ontario, CanadaThis post written by Tampa English Tutor Eric Anderson. If your son or daughter needs help preparing for the ACT or SAT this summer, call Eric at 813.787.8959 or e-mail him at Tampatutor (at) Tampabay.rr.com.

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