Think you’ve got better grammar skills than Donald Trump?
The SAT (as well as the ACT) abides by a plethora of grammar rules that even the most upstanding of world leaders would probably have trouble keeping up with. So it’s really no surprise that Mr. Trump’s grammar doesn’t necessarily adhere to all of the SAT grammar rules either– especially in his Tweets.
We’ve taken three of his recent Tweets from March 2016 and broken them down step-by-step to expose his grammatical errors– and to also help you avoid these same mistakes when you take the SAT.
1. Incomplete Comparisons
Here, Trump’s Tweet features an incomplete comparison. When you have the word “like,” you have to compare two things which are of the same form. Here, Trump is attempting to compare “Wisconsin’s economy” and “everywhere else.” However, “Wisconsin’s economy” is not a place — the word “Wisconsin’s” essentially functions as an adjective since it is in the possessive form– so it isn’t parallel in form to the idea of a place. “Everywhere else” is a place. The two different forms cannot be compared with “like.”
Here are some suggestions for how Trump could have rephrased his sentiment a bit more eloquently:
Wisconsin, like everywhere else in the US, is suffering economically: jobs are leaving.
- Place (Wisconsin) and place (everywhere else) are compared to each other with the word “like”
The economy of Wisconsin is doing poorly, and like everywhere else in the US, the state is losing jobs.
- Place (everywhere else) and place (the state) are compared
Like much of the US, Wisconsin is losing jobs; its economy is doing poorly.
- Place (much of the US) and place (Wisconsin) are compared
The bottom line is that you cannot have an incomplete comparison on the SAT– make sure that the forms of the compared things are parallel!
2. Subject-Verb Agreement
Here, Trump’s Tweet demonstrates the classic example of a subject-verb agreement mishap. In his sentence, “statement” is the subject, which is in the singular form. The phrase “on NATO being obsolete and disproportionately too expensive (and unfair) for the U.S.” is a series of phrases, beginning with a prepositional phrase– “being” marks the beginning of a participial phrase, which modifies “on NATO.” Basically, all these words form a modifier and not part of the subject, “statement.”
If we omit all of the modifiers, we are left with “My statement are now, finally, receiving plaudits!” Obviously the subject (singular) and verb (plural) do not agree.
Two options for correct revisions (excluding the modifiers) which are:
- My statement is now, finally, receiving plaudits!
- My statements are now, finally, receiving plaudits!
The important grammatical takeaway from this Tweet is to remember that intervening phrases do not determine the number of the subject — whether it’s singular or plural.
3. Idiomatic Word Choice
This third Tweet shows an example of an idiomatic word choice (AKA diction). Here, Trump says “less delegates” to reference a smaller number of delegates. But “less” should only be used in regards to non-countable words, such as “less popularity” or “less money.”
To make things simpler, count nouns (plural words such as protestors and people) are essentially things that can be counted, and are referenced with “fewer” and “many.” Non-count words (a.k.a. mass nouns) as well as adjectives, on the other hand, should be modified with “less” and “much.” A little phrase that I like to use to remember is, “Less liquid, fewer drops of water.”
The mistake people almost universally make is misusing FEWER — very few people misuse less— so if you think both work, fewer is likely correct.
- Incomplete comparison
- Comparing things that aren’t alike
- Subject-verb agreement
- When the subject and verb forms are parallel (singular singular, plural plural)
- Non-idiomatic word choice
- Having to use the right word at the right time, particularly when it comes to count and non-count words
Hopefully combing through Donald Trump’s Tweets and underscoring his grammatical errors was entertaining yet educational– Perhaps now you can have some fun hunting down erroneous Tweets by other celebrities and fix them using your expansive knowledge of SAT grammar rules. Have fun!
Think your grammar can trump Trump’s? Take our quiz and find out!